Nick Thompson fights back
Nick Thompson threw caution to the wind in the first of the Gold fleet races in Oman today and landed his second outright win of 2013 Laser Standard World Championships as sailors start to refine tactics for the sharp end of the competition.
Light winds and big shifts once again kept both race officials and sailors on their toes with the forecast of a major storm during the afternoon putting time pressures on the course setters. But after one Gold fleet race and a shortened Silver fleet circuit, the fleet was sent back to shore as lightning started to strike at Musannah beach.
After a morning postponement lasting almost two hours, the Gold fleet were sent off with the wind speed hovering around the six knot mark and the shifts creating uncertainty on the start line.
Thompson made his decision to go right which proved the favoured side and moved into the lead while German sailor Philippe Buhl also plumped for the right and soon became locked in combat with his British rival in a battle that continued all the way round the course.
Choosing the left side proved to be a mistake that leader Robert Scheidt, Pavlos Kontides and Tonci Stipanovic all paid heavily for as a big separation quickly developed.
“It was a bit weird,” said Scheidt whose 12th place was still good enough to keep him at the top of the leaderboard.
“It was not a great day but I’m hanging on in there. In our race, we had the best wind of the day and at the start, I was thinking left but the right paid so I didn’t have a very good first beat. At this level, it is much hard to recover than it was in the qualifying series so getting a good start becomes even more important.
“In around 70% of the races this week, the left side has paid but not today so Jesper and Tonci trusted the left and paid for it while Nick went right. By the top mark there was a big separation and everyone was sailing different races.”
Thompson’s win lifted him seven places in the leaderboard to 15th but served to highlight the price he paid for his errors earlier in the week.
“It was really pleasing to get another win but I’m just a bit frustrated that I’ve been silly in those other races and had those big scores with the DSQ and OCS,” he said.
“But it is good that I am back up there in the Gold fleet. I went out with a nothing to lose attitude and backed myself and that proved to make all the difference. “
“The others are in a different position to me - not so much throwing all the eggs in one basket so they are being more cautious and the conditions we had today did not favour that strategy.”
A delighted Buhl moved two places up in the rankings to fourth place and now lies 15 points behind Scheidt with five scheduled races remaining.
“Finally I was able to pull off a good start and if you have a good start, life gets so much easier in this fleet,” he said
“I really enjoyed the fight with Nick Thompson but didn’t want to risk a yellow flag at the finish so eased off and decided second would be good enough.”
After a series of recalls and 13 disqualifications, Giovanni Coccoluto of Italy won the Silver fleet race, which was shortened when lightning started to strike the perimeters of the course while American Chris Barnard came second. Australian Jeremy O’Connell tops the Silver fleet leaderboard.
The stormy conditions in Musannah were a far cry from the entertainment laid on for the sailors and officials the previous evening by joint hosts Oman Sail and Oman’s Ministry of Sports Affairs. Local musicians, drummers and dancers performed ‘Bu zalaf’ routines steeped in ancient maritime history when communities would turn out to welcome back sailors from their long voyages.
A lavish fare of Omani dishes was also served up to more than 200 guests who received gifts of musar scarves and were given a taste of Omani desert life with camel rides along Musannah beach.