Kirilyuk surges ahead
The Weymouth wind god is definitely determined to make life difficult for the competitors and the race committee at the Gazprom International Dragon World Championship. Day four brought yet more super shifty winds from the north western quadrant and although there was always sufficient wind strength to sail two races, ultimately it was only possible to run one because the wind simply would not stabilise sufficiently for a second.
It took several attempts to get the fleet underway for race four. Race Officer Tim Hancock was forced to abandon his first start attempt because of a big shift and then had to recall the second because the fleet misjudged the tide and got carried over the line. Eventually at the third time of asking they got away all clear although there was a fair bit of mayhem at the very popular starboard end of the line. Amongst those who came out of that mayhem badly was overnight leader Poul Richard Hoj-Jensen who got severely buried and despite his best efforts was only able to climb back up to 34th place.
At the first mark it was overnight second placed Andrey Kirilyuk of Russia who led the fleet from Germany's Tommy Mueller with Mark Dicker from the UK and Markus Wieser, also from Germany, in hot pursuit. Kirilyuk just held off Mueller on the run, but on the second beat he snuck through leaving Kirilyuk to trail him around the mark with Wieser now up to third and Portugal's Diogo Barros fourth. Having rounded the first mark in ninth Denmark's Lars Hendriksen had pulled up into fifth with Dicker down to sixth.
On the second run Hendriksen showed why he is revered as one of the Dragon greats by battering through the leader's defenses and sailing himself into first place in one leg. At the gate Hendriksen just had the edge with Kirilyuk second, Wieser third and Mueller fourth. Meanwhile Klaus Diederichs and Michael Schmidt were making inroads on the leading group and as they headed of up the beat it was anyone's guess who would come out on top. On the line Hendriksen just had the advantage with Kirilyuk second, Wieser third, Diederichs fourth, Schmidt fifth and Mueller sixth.
The race committee attempted to start race five multiple times but the wind was shifting all over the show and eventually the had no option but to admit defeat.
In the overall standings one more race is required to validate the championship and two to bring the discard into play. Tonight Andrey Kirilyuk has moved into the overall lead with 14 points, Klaus Diederichs is second with 35, Hendrik Witzmann is third and Poul Richard Hoj-Jensen has dropped down into fourth. In the Corinthian Division Hoj-Jensen continues to lead from Mark Wade with Peter Froeschl in third, Simon Barter fourth and Rob Campbell fifth.
Speaking after racing the ever self effacing Lars Hendriksen played down his achievements. When asked what his decision making process in choosing where to start was he simply replied "Well I never have a plan. I just play the shifts and see what happens." Talking about the conditions he added. "There were some funny puffs coming down in both directions but they were really short, maybe just for a minute or two, so we did a lot of tacks, maybe 20 or more up that first beat." Click here for full interview.
This evening the competitors and their guests are enjoying the Championship Dinner in the Regatta Village at Weymouth & Portland National Sailing Academy. From the Hendrick's Gin & Tonics reception to a menu the features the very best of local produce it promises to be a delightful evening with great friends, great food and great fun.
Tomorrow's race schedule has been revised to allow for two races instead of one, however, the forecast is for light winds and so the pressure is on to get at least one more race complete to secure the championship.
Full results below