The stormy conditions experienced in Auckland over the weekend abated and 51 Tornados took to the water under blue sunny skies and a shifty south westerly breeze of around 12 to 18 knots.
Gaebler and Struckman, who were 2nd at the recent Singapore Airlines Sail Auckland Regatta used by 40 Tornado crews to tune-up for this event, were third in both races sailed and lead the fleet at the end of day one with a narrow one point margin.
“We are leading overall after two races, so that is a good start,” said Gunnar Struckman after racing. “We were never in the top three around the top mark, but climbed through the fleet, by getting the shifts right, so we are happy with that.”
Hot on their tail in the standings is John Lovell and Charlie Ogletree representing the USA. The Americans were 2nd in race one behind and then 5th in race two to hold second overall at this early stage in the regatta.
Then equal on nine points in 3rd and 4th are Mitch Booth and Pim Nieuwenhuis of the Netherlands and Brits Andrew Walsh and Edward Barney.
Meanwhile defending world champions Fernando Echavarri and Anton Paz of Spain opened the regatta with a win in race one but weren’t able to follow that up crossing in 14th place in race two.
It was mixed fortunes also for Oskar Johansson and Kevin Stittle of Canada who were 21st in race one and then took the gun in the second race of the day. “The wind strength ranged from 12 - 18 knots, but very shifty,” said Johansson. “Up to 30 degree shifts with holes, so made it difficult.”
“In the 2nd race we managed to pick the first shift, which was the key to winning it. We are trying to win one of the remaining four Olympic spots left and it is a very high standard.”
In what promises to be a hard fought battle Canada, New Zealand, Puerto Rico and the Ukraine are currently the best placed of the nine nations who are on the hunt for one of the four remaining Olympic places to be decided at the this event. This puts the pressure on double Olympic gold medallists and reigning Olympic champions, Roman Hagara and Hans Peter Steinacher of Austria who are also fighting for a spot after failing to qualify the country at the ISAF World Sailing Championships in Portugal last year.
Another surprise at the end of the first day is to see hot favourites Darren Bundock and Glenn Ashby of Australia lying 19th in the overall standings. The pair who has a string of recent wins in the class including Singapore Airlines Sail Auckland sailed on the same waters just a week ago was 14th and 23rd in racing on day one.
The best placed of the local entries is Aaron McIntosh and Mark Kennedy who have started well sitting in 10th place at the end of the first day. If they’re able to continue this early form they’ll be well placed to achieve their target of qualifying an Olympic berth for New Zealand.
Racing resumes Tuesday with a planned start time of 1pm and a further two races scheduled.
Top Ten standings after day one:
1st GER Roland Gaebler & Gunnar Struckman 6 points (3, 3)
2nd USA John Lovell & Charlie Ogletree 7 points (2, 5)
3rd NED Mitch Booth & Pim Nieuwenhuis 9 points (7, 2)
4th GBR Andrew Walsh & Edward Barney 9 points (5, 4)
5th FRA Yann Guichard & Alexandre Guyander 13 points (4, 9)
6th ESP Fernando Echavarri & Anton Paz 15 points (1, 14)
7th ITA Francesco Marcolini & Edoardi Bianchi 18 points (11, 7)
8th CAN Oskar Johansson & Kevin Stittle 22 points (21, 1)
9th BEL Carolijn Brouwer & Sebastian Godefroid 23 points (12, 11)
10th NZL Aaron McIntosh & Mark Kennedy 25 points (17, 8)