The first day of racing at the Tokyo 2020 venue started on Sunday (26 July) and will run right through to 30 July. Enoshima is a small island connected to the city of Fujisawa by a bridge.
This was also the sailing venue for the Tokyo Olympics in the 1960’s. The sailors compete in two races each day for 5 days with each race taking up to 50 minutes to be completed.
Papua New Guinea’s sailing siblings struggled to match the class of the sailing field during the first three and four heats respectively held at Enoshima over Sunday and Monday.
Teariki Numa sailed valiantly over the three races held against a top class field of 35 and brought up the rear of the fleet. Teariki was second to race among the siblings with his first race getting away in a light Southerly breeze.
Samoan sailor, Eroni Leilua had a brilliant first leg rounding the top mark in fourth position, amongst the favourites, but fell away to finish back in 31st in the first race and continued his good form in the following races, starting strong but fading towards the back end of each race.
Teariki’s sister, Rose-Lee had similar results placing 44th, 42nd, 40th and 44th in the four heats and is currently being pipped by rival, Fijian sailor Sophia Morgan in all heats.
Rose-Lee competed first with her first race starting at 12pm in a light North East breeze. The second race was delayed as the wind dropped and shifted to the south.
Conditions have been tough out on the water with considerable water chop and consistent strong breezes as a result of the Typhoon Nepartak that is sitting off the Japanese coast.
Top positions are being shared across the field in what will become a very close battle for the medals.
Coach Danny Fuller was positive with both sailors “Rose-Lee should be proud of both of her starts today (Sunday). This is the most difficult part of sailing and Rose had two strong starts. She also made good decisions to keep her boat in good wind around the course. Rose improved her boat speed in the second race and sailed with the main bunch all the way around the course”.
Coach Fuller added that Teariki was a little nervous, and did not get the start he would have liked. “In the 2nd lap he loosened up and made up a lot of ground on his competitors to finish very strongly. The 2nd race of the day was abandoned soon after the start as the wind faded”.
The strong conditions during the Men’s race 2, on Monday morning, saw a sea of trouble as the dinghies battled the conditions and were swept into the race marks resulting in numerous penalties.
The laser sailing competition is very competitive with the world’s top sailors who are all professional sailors racing for the gold.
Coach Danny added, “The goal today was to get a good start and Teariki achieved that with a solid start in both races. He found the course tough going with a big messy swell, big tide and the fluctuating breeze coming off the land”.
“Rose-Lee improved on her sailing from yesterday with two good starts finding good breeze to complete two good races. Rose was having her best race in the second heat today until a big shift of the breeze caught her out on the wrong side of the course,” said Fuller.
The weather forecast is for stronger winds tomorrow, which will also create big waves. Rose-Lee has two races and Teariki has three races scheduled to catch up for the race that was cancelled yesterday. The Typhoon off the coast has weakened but a thunderstorm is predicted for Enoshima tomorrow evening.
Chef de Mission, Tamzin Wardley confirmed that these results are not unexpected given the high quality of the field that our two sailors are racing against.
“The world’s top sailors compete regularly on the international circuit, travelling the world from event to event and our sailors get to attend very few such regattas.
“It will take a massive commitment of time and money to match these top guys out on the water. “Most of them would have been competing in weekly races since they were children.”
“PNG’s team goal is to try to beat the other Pacific countries racing in the event also”.
The regatta will be held over 10 races subject to the weather conditions expected, as the typhoon gets closer.