20 knots on Sydney Harbour
Moths and 49ers were clocked sailing at more than 20 knots on Sydney Harbour today as a fresh northeasterly filled in early, leading to capsizes in most classes and some early retirements with broken gear.
The 49er contest heated up more today. It has developed into an excellent contest between Peter Burling and Blair Tuke of New Zealand and the Australians, Nathan Outteridge/Iain Jensen. The crews train together and have an excellent off-water relationship, but friendships are forgotten when the gun goes.
Today, the Australians won the first and third races, while the Kiwis won the second, where there was a bottom mark ‘incident’. “It got a bit heated in the second race, but it's all part of racing,” Tuke said.
Following another close encounter, the Australians did a self-imposed one turn penalty when things got a bit close on the start line. “We didn't want to go to the (protest) room, and we weren't sure who was at fault, so we did a turn,” Outteridge told. “We didn't pull it off too well and were seventh at the first gate, but we worked our way back to the front.”
The second Kiwi pair, Marcus Hansen/Aaron Hume-Merry, were also involved in an incident when West Australians Torvar Mirsky/Jasper Warren parked and capsized their boat just short of the top mark.
Unable to avoid the overturned skiff, the Kiwis ploughed straight over the Australians’ sail, tearing it from leech to luff at the second batten. “We Kiwis sail as a team,” joked Tuke, implying that match racing guru Mirsky was mastering the 49er too quickly and remedial action needed to be taken.
Burling and Tuke now lead the series by five points with three races left to sail. “We need three bullets and have to put another boat between the Kiwis and us,” Outteridge said.
World number one Marit Bouwmeester continues to lead the Laser Radial class comfortably, but today she faced stiff competition from Australian Sailing Team member and Olympian Krystal Weir.
Bouwmeester won the first of two races, but was pushed all the way by Weir. In the second race, the placings were reversed, with Weir making an early move on the first windward beat and from there she was never headed. "I've been working on new stuff and it has taken three days to get it all together,” the Victorian sailor said. “Today I sailed my own race and it's all starting to work now.”
Weir also felt that the stronger conditions had worked in her favour. “Maybe a bit of Hollywood hiking was what I needed,” she said with a grin.
The Men's Radial class is headed for an exciting conclusion tomorrow, with just four points separating the top three sailors. Tristan Brown leads on 15 from Luke Elliott (16) and Mark Spearman (18), all from Australia.
Another exciting class is the Women's RS:X, where Australia's triple Olympian Jessica Crisp is coming under pressure from Italian Flavia Tartaglini, who recorded a second and two bullets today to be within two points of Crisp. Another international and Crisp’s training partner, Jannicke Stalstrom of Norway is two points further back.
In the Men's RS:X, Queenslander Luke Baillie again started strongly, winning the first race comfortably. However, he lost his starting watch during that race and was 30 seconds late across the line in race two.
Baillie worked his way back to the front of the fleet, then mistook the number of laps to be sailed and finished fifth. He bounced back to win the final race and is now just four points behind the leader, Marco Baglione of Italy.
Marco has sailed an excellent regatta, never being out of the top three places. He explained the difference between himself and Luke Baillie: “Luke is very fast. He is excellent at planning, but in light wind, at pumping he is not so good. Me, I am okay in all conditions, but I am not excellent in any of them.” The competitors who have seen Marco constantly crossing ahead of them may disagree with this modest assessment of his abilities.
In the 29er, Byron White/Ashlen Rooklyn continued to dominate, with two wins and a second, while in the 29erXX Alex and Sam Moloney went 1,3,1.
Angus Galloway and Alexander Gough had another excellent day in the 420 with three wins and appear unbeatable, while in the 470, Sasha and Will Ryan have cleared away to an eight point lead.
In the Women's 470, it is a 'no contest' with Hannah Nattrass/Chelsea Hall winning all seven races. Nattrass is a bit of an enigma. Prior to now she has skippered a 29er to many regatta wins, including at Sail Sydney last year, but claims to just enjoy the sport without any ambition for Olympic campaigning. The girl with the Midas touch may well change her mind.