Outteridge and Jensen in front
After heavy winds and storm warnings kept the majority of sailors on shore on Wednesday, more manageable conditions allowed for a full compliment of racing on day four of Sail Melbourne, the opening round of the ISAF Sailing World Cup.
The 49ers, who didn’t complete a race on day three, got four in today, with New Zealander’s Peter Burling and Blair Tuke beginning the day in the lead, ahead of Australians Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen.
The Australians started the day with a fourth, but improved dramatically as the pair rounded the day out with a first, second and a first to end up two points clear of their rivals, Burling and Tuke, who had a capsize in the third race while in second.
"We just pushed a bit hard trying to get ahead of the Phillips brothers, and lost it," Tuke said.
Local sailors Will and Sam Phillips also had a good day, recording a third, two seconds and a first to finish a single point behind the Kiwis. These three crews will fight out the series over the next two days.
In most classes, the leaders had consolidated their positions by the end of the long day of intense racing. The women's RS:X windsurfer class has become a three-way battle between Grteat Britain’s Bryony Shaw, Italy’s Flavia Tartaglini and Australian Jessica Crisp.
Shaw was originally scored OCS in the first race, which she won, but had the decision overturned. Her places of first and third in the remaining races sees her at the top of the table six points clear of Tartaglini. Tartaglini also showed great consistency to finish with three seconds and leads Crisp by two points.
Shaw said that the breeze had been "interesting" today. "I was on the dagger (board) and others were on the fin, so I was able to point higher. I was slower, but a lot higher."
The men's division is also down to three, with Zach Plavsic of Canada and JP Tobin of New Zealand tied on 11 points and Dutch sailor Dorien van Rijsselberge on 12. Their nearest competitor is a distant 15 points further back.
In the Finn class there was no change in the order, with Ukrainian Oleksiy Borysov sharing the honours with Oliver Tweddell today to hold a two point lead. Veteran Rob McMillan is in third.
In the women's 470, the early leaders Elise Rechichi and Belinda Stowell won the first race before a "stumble" to fourth and a rebound for another win in the final race of the day. They lead the class by three points from the Japanese pair of Ai Kondo and Wakak Tabata.
In the men's 470, overnight leaders Sam Kivell and Will Ryan had slipped to third place after scores of five, five, two. The American pairing of Stuart McNay and Graham Biehl have regained the lead after two wins, but are only two points clear of world champions Mat Belcher and Malcolm Page.
The large Laser class was split into gold and silver fleets today, and Australian Ashley Brunning excelled in the lively conditions to win two races. However, world champion Tom Slingsby remained consistent despite the totally changed conditions and leads the class comfortably by 11 points over Great Britain’s Nick Thompson.
Slingsby made it hard for himself in the second race of the day after being caught on the wrong side of a wind shift. "A big right came through and I was back in the 20s at the top mark," he said. Using all his considerable skills, he worked back to 12th at the bottom mark, then to 8th at the second top mark. "The guys were bunched up in front of me and I took a bit of a risk but it paid off and I got up to third at the finish," he explained.
Combined with 2nd in the first race and a win in the third, this was more than enough to increase his lead with three heats and the medal race to sail.
The Laser Radial also sees a dominating performance, where Lijia Xu of China has an eight point lead over Tuula Tenkanen of Finland. Xu recorded 2,3,1 today. Alison Young of Great Britain holds third position.
In the Skud 18 class Great Britain’s reigning World Champions Alex Rickham and Niki Birrell lead the way, ahead of Australia’s Daniel Fitzgibbon and Liesl Tesch, with Jamie Dunross and Rachael Cox third.
Tasmanian Matt Bugg leads the 2.4mR following three race wins on Thursday, ahead of New Zealand’s Brett Willcock with New South Welshman Greg Hyde third.
Racing continues in Melbourne on Friday with the final fleet races before Saturday’s medal races.