Russia edges ahead
Lighter breezes and one of the biggest tides of the year combined to create tricky conditions for the 42 international crews contesting the UON SB20 World Championship, and the race management team who were kept busy setting and re-setting fair courses.
Current SB20 European champions, Russian Oleg Zherebtsov, his helm Rodion Luka and their 470 crew on Raketa are, as anticipated, in menacing form. A bullet and a third on day two has put them comfortably at the top of the Hamilton Island series points score.
This afternoon the Ukrainian-born Luka said, “We are not worried about being first or second, it’s about being in the top three. Today the owner is more happy, this is most important.”
With currents up to five knots in the Whitsundays at this time of year, some crews are finding it hard to fit that piece of the puzzle. Luka’s not concerned, commenting, “I grew up on a river with big tides so I am not worried, but here it’s a more specific tide. You can never get relaxed, you always have to look out of the boat to see what’s going on”.
Not so fortunate was yesterday’s young standout, Ben Saxton, who scored a ninth and an 11th today with Bango Powered by SLAM. Yesterday’s opening volleys gave the young British crew enough of a head start however to be second overall this afternoon and well in the running with four days remaining.
The consistency of Glenn Bourke and his Club Marine crew is paying dividends for the multiple world champion. The Hamilton Island CEO is now third on the pointscore after four races.
The might of two-time SB20 world champion, Geoff Carveth sailing WKD, is also starting to spoil the party for the rest. Carveth collected a second and a first today to be fourth on the pointscore
“Today we had a clearer idea what was going on in the bay, and a bit of a theory,” said Carveth just now. “Yesterday I broke the start and I think I was tired from performing major surgery on the boat the day before after we ripped the side of the keel.
“We had a decent start in race four, we stuck to our guns and we gradually picked off our opposition.”
On the plan for the remainder of the week, Carveth says it’s all about the starts. “All I want is to be on the start line going fast, after that we can do the rest. It’s easier said than done though; you need some luck on your side”.
The Aussies, which make up half the international fleet, fared better in today’s light airs. Sydney’s Ian Brown and his crew of dual Olympic gold medallist Malcolm Page, bowman Klade Hauschildt and 14 year-old Finn Gilbert on One Design Sailing picked up a handy third and fourth respectively to be sixth on the pointscore.
The fleet was recalled at the start of race four but got away cleanly on the second attempt. As the majority converged at the top mark in the best pressure of the day, peaking at 12 knots out of the ENE, there was a boisterous bunch-up and red angry flags were drawn.
The international jury however sat idle as the sun set over Hamilton Island and the sailors gathered on the Hamilton Island Yacht Club boardwalk to quench their thirst and talk over the day’s events like gentlemen.
Andrew Oddie’s GBR entry Harry picked up best result so far, a sixth in race three. Harry has been named after the bowman Freddie Blencke’s son Harry, who was killed in a car accident last year. Blencke has used these worlds to launch fundraising efforts for Taronga Zoo’s new Lemur exhibit, to honour his son’s short life. The online auction has raised an $18,000 with other donations taking the tally to $30,000 so far.
“I’ve been really impressed by the support from around the world,” said a grateful Blencke this morning.
If more than $150,000 is raised, Taronga Zoo will name the Lemur Forest Adventure mascot ‘Harry’, in perpetuity. Donate here
Tomorrow’s forecast is for similar conditions with Monday a planned layday before the final deciding half of the UON SB20 World Championship.