Photo: Pavel Nesvadba/Ranchi

Still at sea

Light winds smite 14 hour race at the ORC World Championship

Tuesday August 5th 2014, Author: Dobbs Davis, Location: Germany

The weather predictions of today's first offshore race at the 2014 ORC World Championship have held true, with light 4-8 knot conditions in the Kieler Bucht making it slow going for the fleet of 151 boats from 19 countries. Race managers from Kieler Yacht-Club set a course of 62 miles that traverses the western Baltic in a combination of nine short and long legs oriented more or less in a windward-leeward direction.

But even with a late rain squall that brought 20 knots to the course area, this race had to be shortened for all classes so as to not threaten the 14 hour time limit. The distance shortened for each class has varied depending on how far each class has progressed in the original course.

The start-stop nature of the breeze today and its large swings in direction not only spread out the fleet but has also been testing the crews' sail change and trimming abilities on legs which vary in length from 3 to 12 miles.

On the strength of a great start and by favoring the shoreline on the first 4-mile beat of the race to the first mark, two time ORC World Champion Alberto Rossi and his Italian team on the TP52 Enfant Terrible have been leading the pack in Class A around the course, chased at the first mark by Thomas Nilsson's Norwegian team on their TP52 Wolfpack, last year's ORC European Class A champions.

But at the next mark, a spar buoy located at the Kiel Lighthouse, Ole Martin Vordahl's Cookson 50 Camilla from Norway had passed Wolfpack and was on the chase to try and catch the Italians for the elapsed time lead.

But at an average boat speed of only 6 knots and a weak wind forecast, this average rate of progress may drop even more and thereby prompt the race managers to shorten the course. ORC race guidelines recommend a 10-12 hour duration for the short offshore race, and there is a 14 hour time limit set by the Sailing Instructions, so a shortened course looks likely if the conditions persist, especially for the smaller and slower entries in Classes B and C.

And regardless of the outcome, inshore course racing will resume tomorrow in day Three of the ORC World Championship, with the first start on each course area scheduled for 11:00 local time.

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