Kiwis lead the 49ers
Racing at the first round of the ISAF World Cup in Melbourne got off to a late start today, as light winds bedeviled the race committee's best efforts. Eventually a full program was possible for the 49er, 470, Laser and Finn classes, but there was no action for the RS:X windsurfers or the paralympic classes.
When the 49ers got underway at 3.50pm, it appeared that a repeat of yesterday was on the cards - win the start and win the race. However, different areas of the course delivered different results each leg and ultimately racing became a lottery.
It could have been a great day for the young Australian combination of Steve Thomas and Jasper Warren, who showed their more favoured rivals a clean pair of heels in races one and three. Unfortunately, they were judged OCS in the second race, which ruined an otherwise excellent performance.
After six races with one drop, the leaderboard remains the same as yesterday. Kiwis Peter Burling and Blair Tuke lead by one point from Australians Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen, with the other Australian pairing of Will and Sam Phillips two points further back in third.
Outteridge commented wryly that he "won't be winning on a countback" after failing to record a race win so far in the series.
The 470 class was sent to the southern course where conditions were particularly shifty. The newly-formed Australian pairing of Elise Rechichi and Belinda Stowell maintained their overall lead after four races, recording a 4th and a 2nd to go with their two bullets from yesterday. The winners of the test event at the Weymouth Olympic course, the Japanese duo of Ai Kondo and Wakato Tobata, recorded a third and a first to hold second overall, two points behind the Australians.
The men's event also saw the favoured crews having their ups and downs. Overnight leaders Stuart McNay and Graham Biehl of the USA scored two 4th places to drop to equal second with last year's World Cup champions, Mat Belcher and Malcolm Page, who chased home their younger training partners Sam Kivill and Will Ryan. Kivill and Ryan recorded two bullets to go to the top of the leaderboard, four points clear of second place.
In the small Finn fleet, Ukrainian Oleksiy Borysov maintained his overnight lead, winning the first race and placing second in the next. He leads two Australians, Oliver Tweddell and Rob McMillan.
The last fleet to complete their races, the Lasers, were still on the course at 7pm. World Champion Tom Slingsby, who is usually more comfortable in heavier airs, showed his dominance again with comfortable wins in both yellow fleet races. Overall, Slingsby leads Nick Thompson of Great Britain by 7 points, with Jeeman Ha of Korea in third.
Chinese sailor Lijia Xu increased her lead in the Laser Radial with a 4th and a 2nd. She leads Marit Bouwmeester of the Netherlands and Tuula Tenkanen of Finland by seven points.
The general consensus among the leading sailors was that "no damage was done". At this early stage of the regatta, all the favoured crews are within striking distance of the lead. But that could all change tomorrow if the threatened thunderstorms and 20 to 30 knot winds eventuate.