Initially the racetrack offered comfortable seas and very manageable 16 knot sou’westerlies before the scene turned sour when a pre-frontal rain squall of 28 knots hit and 470s started capsizing. A second much stronger squall came through with gusts up to 35 knots and racing was pulled.
Once the decision was made to send all fleets back to St Kilda sailing precinct, every available coach and official boat assisted the young Opti sailors to shore. Competitors already at St Kilda beach helped those trying to reach it including Australia’s Finn great Oli Tweddell who was in the water with a group sorting out an upturned Viper with a broken mast.
By 14:30 the breeze was back down to 22 knots and a weak sun out but with more bad weather on the way, at 15:00hours World Sailing’s Technical Delegate Antonio González de la Madrid together with local PROs Ross and Kevin Wilson agreed there would be no more racing for the invited and the day’s first session of Olympic class racing.
Then came the news most were expecting, the competition was over for the day with five of the 11 divisions contesting the World Cup having scored one race result.
“It was always our thought for today that the breeze was going to allow us a window to get one race in before all over rover,” Ross said, adding, “That’s almost what happened except that some of the starts were a little bit delayed and that caused a bit of an issue.”
Martin Dolenc enjoying the high winds. Photography- Jeff Crow- Sport the Library
A schedule adjustment means an 11:00hrs start tomorrow, Saturday December 12, the penultimate day of racing out of the World Cup’s new sailing precinct at Melbourne’s busy seaside suburb of St Kilda.
González de la Madrid said, “Having lost a number of races today due to the big breeze we will be looking to catch up on the schedule tomorrow. An additional race for all but the Women’s RS:X has been added and the forecast looks set to improve. We will be starting racing at the earlier time of 11:00 and we will see sailors qualify for Sunday’s Medal Races as well as Paralympic racing coming to a conclusion.”
The top ten finishers in each of the Olympic divisions qualify for Sunday’s gold medal showdown on the stadium course off St Kilda Pier with expert commentary and live vision streamed to a big screen in the precinct. For the Paralympic competitors, Saturday will be the final day of racing with gold medallists crowned at 17:30
Two major sailing events across two states experienced extreme sailing action today, Victoria with the Sailing World Cup and New South Wale’s Sydney Harbour recording 34kts of WNW wind at 14:30 during the Extreme Sailing Series. Find out more on their day of racing here – http://www.extremesailingseries.com/
Sasha Ryan and Aurora Patterson upwind sailing on Port Phillip, St Kilda. Photography by Jeff Crow – Sport the Library
Sasha Ryan and Aurora Patterson (AUS) were awarded the 470 women’s win, moving the new combination closer to the leading duo of Carrie Smith and Jamie Ryan (AUS). “It was pretty hectic out there today, a typical Melbourne blow-out,” said Jamie. “We managed to bend our pole and our mast.”
Smith chimed in: “We decided to do a nice cartwheel downwind when we were winning and beating all the boys, which was a bit disappointing. Overall we are happy that we survived the day and that we could race against the boys and have a bit of fun at the same time. We’re in one piece and that’s the main thing.”
They will try to bend their 470 mast back into shape or otherwise source a spare before tomorrow. Among the 470 women’s teams there was one broken and three bent masts and in the 49erFX fleet two crews finished the day with a busted rig.
The scoresheet for Alex and Patrick Conway (AUS) remains undented, five wins from five starts. Back at St Kilda sailing Precinct skipper Alex said: “When we started race five it was perfectly fine with around 15-16knots. By the second downwind it was starting to get a bit windy and we had a bit on in the last lap and of course after the racing it got even worse. We just managed to win that race; we got a big right-hander and were fourth or fifth at the top mark. The guys in front had a big lead but we managed to pull them back.”
Daniel Fitzgibbon and Liesl Tesch sailing upwind. Photography by Jeff Crow – Sport the Library
The gusty conditions suited the British team of Craig Wood, Liam Cattermole and Steve Palmer. They achieved their first top place of the World Cup series in the Sonar’s only race of the day.
On return to shore it was straight into the protest room for the teams from New Zealand, Norway and Australia. Back out on the dock France’s Bruno Jourden, Eric Flageul and Nicolas Vimont-Vicary are assessing the damage to their boat after a collision at the top mark with Australia’s Colin Harrison, Jonathan Harris and Russell Boaden.
Australia’s Daniel Fitzgibbon and Liesl Tesch were unfazed by the drama of today, taking out the one race and ensuring they sit firmly in the top place on the leaderboard.
Rolf Schrama and Sandra’s Nap’s (NED) conversation last night with their coach after yesterday’s poor race results seems to have worked with the pair grabbing second place today ahead of Alexandra Rickham and Niki Birrell (GBR).
The top three sailors – Megan Pascoe (GBR), Damien Seguin (FRA) and Matthew Bugg (AUS) sit equally on nine points at the end of day three.
The single race today was fraught with problems for three of the crews receiving OCS, including Seguin. With only one day and three races to go, Seguin’s OCS may end up being the one costly mistake he can least afford in this tough competition.
Racing is scheduled to resume tomorrow at 11:00 local time with a packed card of racing on the cards for the Olympic, Paralympic and invited classes.
By Lisa Ratcliff
Sailing World Cup Melbourne Media