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Down Under Finishes on Top of Stage 2 Nations Cup
Nations Cup: Day 3, Stage 2 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 the World Sailing’s Nations Cup Grand Final. Those two coveted spots were taken by Clare Costanzo (AUS) in the Women’s Division and Nick Egnot-Johnson (NZ) in the Open Division.

Costanzo's sailing in Stage 1 made all the difference in Stage 2. Photo © Amanda Witherell

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 the World Sailing’s Nations Cup Grand Final. Those two coveted spots were taken by Clare Costanzo (AUS) 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 jibe and lay the finish in a beautiful bit of boat handling.

Bergqvist leading Laaksonen to the windward mark. Photo © Amanda Witherell

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.

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.

Nick Egnot-Johnson Photo © Gerard Sheridan

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 breeze-on conditions, which are expected for the afternoon’s Stage 3, he’s hoping to “just try and use what we learned this morning and take it into racing this arvo.”

Stage 3 commences Friday afternoon with the top six competitors in each division competing in the first of two round robins.

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