Black flags, abandonment and redemption

Commanding lead for Healey at the J/24 Worlds

Wednesday August 18th 2010, Author: Chris McLaughlin, Location: Sweden

Another strange day in Malmo, which called on the experience of international Race Officer Peter Reggio.

The morning race began in around 6 knots of breeze after a one hour shoreside postponement. The fleet found itself working toward a weather mark often disappearing in grey mist and close into the shoreline. First around was the USA's Tim Healey in Sailors for the Sea, back from his Black flag disqualification then reinstatement yesterday, followed by GBs Nathan Batchelor in SERCO, USA's Tony Parker in Bangor Packet and Ian Southworth in Inmarsat Il Riccio.

The course offered little opportunity for place changing, althopugh a battle developed between Parker and Southworth, each crossing tacks up the second beat, with Southworth getting into 3rd place at the final weather mark.

As they both hoisted spinnakers, Southworths spinnaker pole lift jammed and Parker was able to pull level. For the next mile, the two boats matched each other downwind to the finish line and as they crossed neither was certain who won. The race officer gave it to Parker by a few inches.

After a short delay, Race three and a half began...

Moving the weather mark, Reggio sent the fleet back towards the shore, Parker, Casale and Southworth led the way in, but as they made the final approach, the mark was pulled up and a moved mark flag flown on a RIB further upwind. More boats headed for the RIB, but in the uncertainty, Casale, Perreira and Southworth gybed around onto a tight reach straight to the leeward mark. The fleet went into procession to the leeward mark, the three leaders within a few boatlengths of each other.

As they took down their spinnakers to head up wind they realised the race had been abandoned - a fortunate result for Healey, who was buried back in the fleet and for triple world Champion Santa Cruz, who was Black-flagged as over the start line...

A reset of the course and the fleet lined -up for Race 4. Same mark visibility issues and a freshening wind to around 14 knots. Tactically the decision was shoreside in less current, or right-hand side in more wind.

Santa Cruz led inshore and held first from start to finish. Parker, Southworth and Karsunke of Germany took a balanced mid course to round behind him. With Healey back in the mid-teens, the series seemed to be opening up again.

Wind followed under dark clouds to left and then right of the course. Southworth moved to third place by taking the left leeward mark and pushing to the right. He then crossed to cover the left of the course. As cloud darkened to the right, Healey back in the teens, but still with a discard, rolled the dice and went hard right under the dark cloud. He was rewarded with a move up to second place. behind Santa Cruz and in front of Southworth. working the shifts right, the three positions remained unchanged to the line.

Healey has a commanding lead, no discard and an 11 point gap from Tony Parker, holding second, five points clear of Casale and six points ahead of Southworth and Carsunke.

There are four races left in the series, which finishes on Friday.

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