Six races done
Overnight leaders, Tim and Sue Fells, fell from grace today after counting an uncharacteristic 20th to land in third overall, with compatriot Craig Burlton leapfrogging them to take the lead.
Fells said the sunny but tactically testing conditions on the bay meant there was a hair’s breadth of judgement between greatness and the gutter. “It was switching probably 40/50 degrees without any particularly obvious pattern, so it was very easy to get on the wrong side of the track and be totally buried. The real challenge was just consistency today.”
The top three boats all took a race win each in the sunny conditions, and Mark Richards used his to move into the silver medal position, completing a 1-2-3 for team GBR as the event approaches the half-way stage.
As a sea breeze kicked in over the course, sailors had to negotiate wind shifting through 40 degrees and a leftover lumpy swell from yesterday, with an easing breeze offering less power with which to push through it.
The 137-boat was evenly split in two this morning using seeding from overall scores from the night before, putting and end to claims that one fleet may have been stronger than the other.
“There was a bit of talk yesterday that the orange fleet had all the good guys and that we were getting away with a bit of an easier time in our fleet,” said Tim Fells, “but it was just as competitive today. There’s good depth in this fleet and if you make a mistake early on you’re going to be challenged to get back to the front.”
A good starting position and getting in front early was again key, and eagerness saw plenty of boats fall foul of starting penalties, including two of the top three, who now discard an OCS and Z flag penalty apiece.
Another to come a-cropper was former 1720 supremo Mike Budd, whose disqualification in race six dropped him to 12th overall. “We crossed the [finishing] line in the last race in silence, so we were all a bit down about that," explained Budd. "We assume we were OCS’d. If we were over the line today that was careless really, because we were in a good position, and we didn’t’ need to do it, we had good speed.
“Once we’ve got in the lead we haven’t been overtaken all week. We’ve won four races on the water so far this week, and when we get ahead we extend, so we’re a little disappointed.
Of the Irish boats, Beijing Olympians Peter O’Leary and Tim Goodbody overhauled Peter Kennedy, Ireland’s silver medalist from 1988, to claim the honour of first Irish boat and move into tenth position and put them within shooting distance of the top five.
The last day of the qualification series begins tomorrow, after which the fleet is split top-and-bottom into gold and silver for two days of final racing.
Full results here