30 knots on Port Phillip Bay
Heavy winds have brought day three of Sail Melbourne, the opening round of the ISAF Sailing World Cup, to a premature end, with gusts above 30 knots recorded on Port Phillip Bay.
After light winds kept sailors on shore for much of Tuesday it was the complete opposite on Wednesday, with the conditions testing those crews that did go racing.
The 470 classes, along with the Paralympic crews managed to complete one race while the RS:X got in two before the breeze picked up.
In the RS:X men’s only four races have been completed in the 11 race series and it’s very tight at the top of the table. Canadian Zach Plavsic leads on eight points, one ahead of Dorien van Rissjelberge of the Netherlands, with a further point back to JP Tobin of New Zealand.
In the women's division, Bryony Shaw of Great Britain won both races today, to take the lead by two points from overnight leader, Jessica Crisp of Australia. Crisp recorded two fourth place finishes today.
There were further dramas for 470 world champions Mat Belcher and Malcolm Page of Australia, who were adjudged OCS in the only race sailed. This leaves another Australian crew, Sam Kivell and Will Ryan, with a three-point lead over first-day leaders, Stuart McNay and Graham Biehl of the USA. Belcher and Page are a further point back.
"We were right on the pin and didn't think we were over," said Page. "We knew the South Africans were, so when we saw the individual recall we kept going." With five fleet races and the medal race still to be sailed, the pair has plenty of time to make up the deficit.
Leading women’s crew, Elise Rechichi and Belinda Stowell, finished in sixth place to see their lead cut to a single point over the Japanese pairing, Ai Kondo and Wakako Tabata of Japan. The Japanese women won the Olympic test event in Weymouth in August and finished third in today's strong winds. Amanda Clark and Sarah Lihan of the USA won the race to move into equal third overall, tied with Kathrin Kadelbach and Rike Belcher of Germany on 13 points.
Sail Melbourne is becoming much more than just a sailing regatta, with corporate activities, an event dinner and various social occasions such as fashion parades during the course of the event. The sailors are to be commended for giving so willingly of their time to create a positive impression of the sport.
Racing is set to resume on Thursday morning and the race committee will be keen to get racing back on schedule.