Pile up

Top players get squeeze during gate start in 505 Worlds report class president Ali Meller

Tuesday December 10th 2002, Author: Ali Meller, Location: Australasia

Only one race was scheduled for today, but we nearly sailed two. After a postponement, we went with a gate start in very light air. A number of teams were trying to gate early and several of these were caught a little high as the pathfinder started its run.

Pip and I were still going backwards as the pathfinder sailed by and were rolled by a number of boats that squeezed through. It turns out we did rather better than some, as something like six teams were disqualified for hitting the gate launch or the pathfinder. Incredibly these teams include:

1st race winners Dave Smithwhite/Neal Fulcher
Event leaders after three races, Ian Barker/Dan Cripps
1999 World Champions Howard Hamlin/Mike Martin

several others.

The Doctor was tardy

This race was in a mostly easterly breeze, with wind ranging from near zero to 16 knots, and puffs filling in from one side and nearly inverting the fleet. On the third beat, after the two reaching legs, the easterly died out, leaving most of the fleet barely moving, and the Fremantle Doctor breeze filled in from the opposite direction. At this point the Race Committee abandoned the race, and moved into position for another start, setting the course for the new wind direction.

Since it was late in the afternoon for The Doctor, it did not fill in all that strongly, perhaps to 14 knots, though there were some higher puffs. Again there were a number of teams trying to gate early. The fleet went off planing fast upwind. The leaders all chose to do bear-away sets at the windward mark, while a few teams that rounded well back jibed at the offset mark and hoisted spinnakers on port. The gybe set group had good breeze right to the corner, and when they gybed back to starboard to lay the leeward mark, received the strongest puff of the day.

Large gains were made by these teams, Pip and I may have passed 30 boats and rounded the leeward mark 10th. The breeze backed as the leaders started down the first reach, with a number of teams forced to douse their kites to make the mark. The shift was large enough that not jibing at the jibe mark and continuing on starboard wire-running was the better move to get down the second reach, which had now turned into a run. There were lots of place changes on these two legs. After a fast beat upwind the leaders split down the run to the finish, and then converged on the narrow finish line.

First finishers

Andy Beeckman/Ben Benjamin (USA-Team Tuesday) won the race. Krister Bergstrom Thomas Moss would have crossed second, but capsized on the last gybe before the finish and fell to fourth.

What with Bergstrom/Moss swimming Simon Payne/Bill Masterman dueled with Tim Collins/Drew Buttner for second, with Collins/Buttner (USA) taking second and Payne/Masterman (GBR) third. Bergstrom/Moss (SWE) were 4th, Les Nathanson/Richard Machin (AUS) 5th, Luke Molloy/Lucas Prescott (AUS) 6th, Henry Amthor/Steve Sparkman (USA) 7th, Brett Van Munster/Andrew Petch (AUS) 8th, Doug Hagan/Stuart Park (USA) 9th, Ian Pinnell/Steve Hunt (GBR) 10th.

Overall standings very close.

Danny Thompson/Andy Zinn were in the teens at the last windard mark but put their kite under the bow on the hoist and dropped some places. If we start figuring in a throw out, Barker/Cripps throw out their DSQ and count ten points overall, Bergstrom/Moss drop a 7th and have 12 points, Andy Beeckman/Ben Benjamin throw out a 14th and have 12 points. Thompson/Zinn throw out today's race and have 13..

The Jury is still out

This morning, like most other mornings, I woke up around 5:00 or 5:30AM as the "anti Doctor", the night-and-early-morning offshore breeze, was roaring through the trees and buildings. Having had two races yesterday, I went back to sleep for awhile.

It is 11:00AM as I write this. only one race today with a warning signal at 13:00, so the frantic rigging and launching has not started yet. The jury did not come to a decision last night on the requests for redress from the gate start incident in race 3, but they are deliberating now.

The jury decision is up

The race stands, without anyone getting redress. The decision carefully explains why, but it is nearly a full page of writing, so I will not try to reproduce it here. The essence is that the jury had no way of giving redress that was fair to everyone. If you are interested, check the ISAF rules for what a jury or protest committee is required to consider when considering requests for redress.

The forecast is for no Fremantle Doctor today. Some speculation is for a day of shifty puffy easterlies like yesterday but with stronger winds.

For full results see page 2...

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