Until today, the top contenders may not have been on the same course as their nearest rivals in the overall standings, but with nine races now in the bag, the fleet will divide permanently into its gold and silver halves for five final races on Thursday and Friday. Light shifty airs and grey, overcast skies on Wednesday morning warned of what is to come, with high pressure and even lighter winds set to dominate the last two days of racing.
The easterly wind never built above ten knots on Dublin Bay, and Hamble sailor Craig Burlton, overall leader going into Wednesday, said that the lighter conditions would make for unpredictable and open racing for the rest of the event.
“We’re okay in the light stuff,” he said. “We’ve mainly sailed in heavier breezes this year as a team, but it will open the field up a lot more being lighter breeze, although the breeze so far has been better than the forecast, so fingers crossed.
Despite posting two fourths today, Burlton cold only hang on to second overall, while Geoff Carveth slipped past into the overall lead.
Mike Budd, in third overall, rounds out the top three, with GBR sail numbers filling four of the top five slots.
Things could change further, however, as protest hearings are scheduled to stretch long into the night. Thirteen disputes, five of those against the race committee, will be heard before results are made final and the gold and silver fleets are split for once and for all.
Burlton and his crew are one of a handful of boats managing to find consistency in very even conditions, with normally steady performers and the bookies’ hot picks posting wildly erratic results.
“It is pretty tough to find lanes and clear breeze,” said Burlton. “We’re trying to play the middle of the course but it is pretty tough. The courses are pretty good, some of the lines are a little more biased than we might like, but it’s very tight racing and the [race] committee are doing it very well.”
Irish boats again failed to make a dent in the top ten results overall, but there was a rare Irish one-two in the Orange fleet, with Cork helms Ronan Collins and Aidan O’Connell coming out on top in second race of the day.
“We managed to sail around the people who were around us at the first mark,” said O’Connell. “I think we would have been four or five around the first mark - and then we were very close to Ronan but he managed to clip us at the end, which was unfortunate, but it was great to see a one-two for the Irish boats in that race.”
They were among the lucky ones, however. Ireland has just one home rep - Peter Kennedy - inside the top ten, and only one more - Olympian Peter O’Leary - inside the top twenty.
Tomorrow’s racing will be scrutinised further, with GPS trackers on the top 20 boats allowing online spectators follow the racing in real time on www.live-regatta.com .
Full results here