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Courtois Leads Women, Anyone’s Game in Open
Nations Cup: Day 3, Stage 3 Pauline Courtois (FRA) ran a picket fence during Day 3 of racing at World Sailing’s Nations Cup at St. Francis Yacht Club. Nicole Breault (USA), went into the day’s racing undefeated, but suffered a loss to Anna Östling (SWE) in the first match, going on to win against Allie Blecher (USA), Juliana Senfft (BRA) and Clare Costanzo (AUS). The two leaders then faced off in the day’s final flight, with Courtois besting Breault.

Close racing in Open Division, up and down the course. Photo © Amanda Witherell

Pauline Courtois (FRA) ran a picket fence during Day 3 of racing at World Sailing’s Nations Cup at St. Francis Yacht Club. Nicole Breault (USA), went into the day’s racing undefeated, but suffered a loss to Anna Östling (SWE) in the first match, going on to win against Allie Blecher (USA), Juliana Senfft (BRA) and Clare Costanzo (AUS). The two leaders then faced off in the day’s final flight, with Courtois besting Breault. 

In the Open Division, Maxime Mesnil (FRA) and James Hodgson (AUS) each have a 3-1 score line, but it remains anyone’s game as racing continues in the double round robin tomorrow. 

Courtois leads the Women's Division after three days of racing. Photo © Chris Ray

Day 3 dawned with a repechage for four Open Division teams and five Women’s teams, all competing for the chance to continue racing in Stage 3. Those two coveted spots were taken by Costanzo in the Women’s Division and Nick Egnot-Johnson (NZ) in the Open Division.

As a testament to just how close the sailing has been, the Women’s Division teams from Australia, Sweden, Finland, South Africa and Great Britain swapped wins and losses, resulting in an unbreakable three-way tie. Stage 1 standings came into play, allowing Costanzo to advance and leaving Johanna Bergqvist and Marinella Laaksonen on the sidelines for the remainder of racing at St. Francis Yacht Club. 

“It finally feels like we got things under control and now it’s not enough,” said Bergqvist, who lost her first race of the day then had a fantastic comeback in a match against Laaksonen in which they battled tack for tack to the windward mark, rounding and setting in sync. Bergqvist, slightly behind and to port, was able to push Laaksonen off to the north enough to come ahead in the gybe and lay the finish in a beautiful bit of boat handling.

Bergqvist, Costanzo and Laaksonen with three wins each, all went on to win one against each other, creating an unbreakable tie settled in favor of Costanzo due to her higher ranking from Stage 1. 


Costanzo sailing past StFYC and waving to her fellow Australian men's team, cheering her on from the Clubhouse. Photo © Amanda Witherell

Excited to have the opportunity to continue competing, Costanzo called the next stage a “redemption round,” saying that she’d had close races with all the top women she would now face again. 

“This morning, it was everything to lose and now it’s everything to win,” said her sister, Juliet Costanzo, who sails with her. 

The Open Division raced a knock-out round, with Ettore Botticini (ITA) beating Kohei Ichikawa (JPN) 2-1 and Egnot-Johnson beating David Rae (RSA) 2-0, then going on to nab two more bullets against Botticini to advance to Stage 3.

Egnot-Johnson echoed the sentiment that the racing has been incredibly even and close. “Anyone could win this regatta,” he said. With minimal experience racing J/22s in the breeze-on conditions of San Francisco Bay, during Stage 3 he managed to score wins against front-runner Mesnil and Pearson Potts (USA). Potts had a string of losses but scored one against Open Division defending champion Vladimir Lipavsky (RUS), who had a sluggish day on the water with just one win against Henrique Haddad (BRA).   

Day 4 of racing on Saturday, April 13, will see the completion of the double round robin in Stage 3, followed by the semi-finals, which will be raced on one course. 

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