Kirklands off to cracking start
Jesse and Zander Kirkland got their final Olympic qualifier at the Seiko 49er World Championships in Croatia off to a flying start yesterday.
After the first three qualifying flights the sailing siblings were third in the overall 25-boat Blue fleet.
The Kirklands are bidding to secure one of the five remaining Olympic slots and they could not have asked for a better start in light air conditions.
The Bermudian pair placed sixth in the first qualifying flight and then gained more momentum after posting a bullet in the second flight. The Olympic hopefuls then ended the day with another strong fourth place finish to bolster their chances of progressing to the business end of the regatta.
Helmsman Jesse was pleased with the promising start to the regatta but wary there is still a long road to travel in terms of Olympic qualification in Croatia.
It was a good start, he said. We stuck to our game plan in the light breeze but there are still many races to go.
We had two good starts to put us in good position. However, in the third race we really had to earn the fourth after a poor start.
The Kirklands will now look to build on yesterdays promising start when racing resumes today with three more qualifying flights off the shores of Sailing Club Uskok.
We have to approach the next couple of days with the exact mindset as today (yesterday), Jesse said. Nothing changes.
The 79-boat 49er fleet in Croatia has been divided into three qualifying groups (Blue, Red and Yellow) that will be further split into the Gold (top 25 teams), Silver (teams placed 26th through 50th) and Bronze (teams 51st through 76th) once the initial qualifying phase is completed.
The Blue, Red and Yellow fleets are to be shuffled after each day of racing based upon team rankings in the regatta.
The eventual top ten boats after completion of the final qualifying series will advance to Saturdays medal race.
Bermuda are currently locked in a battle with Brazil, Japan, Malta, Italy, Russia, Canada, Uruguay, Chile, Belgium, Argentina, Mexico and Greece for the five available Olympic slots up for grabs.
The Kirklands are competing among a star-studded fleet that includes defending world champions Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen of Australia.
Aussie pair Luke Parkinson and Jasper Warren led the Blue fleet after day one, Outteridge and Jensen topped the Red fleet while Argentinas Tomas Wagmaister and Juan Martin Correa Henderson led the Yellow fleet.
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