Ashby surges ahead
Races five and six of the A-Class Catamaran Worlds were sailed today off Takapuna in the heaviest conditions of the regatta thus far. The wind prior to the first race was gusting to 18.3 so the race committee waited for several big puffs to pass through before starting.
The fleet got away into relatively steady breeze in the 15 to 17 knot range. The Emirates Team New Zealand crews immediately broke free from the fleet, favouring the left hand side of the course. At the first rounding of the bottom mark there were two distinct fleets, the ETNZ crews...and the rest.
Peter Burling led and dominated the first race, finally leading his teammates Glenn Ashby and Blair Tuke across the line.
'When the going gets tough, the tough get going,’ is probably the only saying that fits the conditions that the competitors raced in today.
Spectators who were able to view the race were treated to a masterclass of control and speed displayed by the frontrunners.
Race Two started in more consistent breeze which built close to the wind limit of twenty two knots towards the end of the race.
The boats got off to a clean start with most of the fleet again favouring the left hand side of the course. Peter Burling rounded the bottom mark first followed closely by Ashby and Tuke. Tuke took the right hand side of the course hoping for a shift which could allow him to pass the leaders on the beat.
By the second rounding of the bottom mark the race was clearly split in to two groups once more; the ETNZ peloton some minutes ahead of the chasing pack.
Artemis Racing helmsman Nathan Outteridge had another shocker today with a sixth and a 48th, due to a broken rudder bungee, resulting in a drop to ninth place overall. Many sailors would have given up, but not Nathan. He sailed the entire second race with only his starboard rudder functional. He simply never gives up.
There was carnage across the fleet with damage hitting many crews. For Alexis Reeves it was armageddon when a gybe went badly wrong resulting in a broken forward beam which saw the boat split in two. The three major components of the boat were eventually rounded up, rescued and brought back to the beach. The clear consensus of the many experts gathered on the beach was that Alexis’s regatta was over.
Again the ETNZ crew dominated, with Glenn Ashby crossing first ahead of Blair Tuke and Ray Davies.
"The last race was one of those races where the finish couldn’t come quick enough," commented Ashby.
Peter Burling ended up 15th after suffering a broken starboard foil on the run to the finish.
Andrew Landenberger and Mischa Heemskerk continued to impress with rock steady performances coming in fourth and fifth.
The overall results leave Ashby (AUS) leading on 7 ahead of Tuke (NZL) on 21 and Peter Burling third on 22. Andrew Landenberger (AUS) finished on 22 with Ray Davies (NZL) on 30.
Davies commented: "It’s great to see the young guys going so well, I’m pleased to be within striking distance going into the final races.
Full results here