A stunning days racing on day two of the International Fireball Worlds sailed in Comet Bay, Mandurah under clear blue skies with just a hint of wispy alto cirrus and gusty south-easterly offshore winds.
Some tired sailors came ashore with big smiles on their faces after ideal Fireball sailing conditions including some exhilarating reaches. A number of competitors remarked that this was the fastest speeds they had achieved in their boats.
With a bullet and a second, South Australians, Robin Inns and Joel Coultas take a two point lead in the regatta over Brits, Tom Gillard and Sam Brearey with two more Adelaide teams just five points adrift.
The opening race of the day was delayed a short time whilst the breeze settled. The average wind speed was not too strong but it was shifting by up to 30 degrees, making the PRO's job quite demanding. One false start as the majority of the pack ganged up on the pin end of the line which was a shame for current 470 Olympic Gold medallist local, Tessa Parkinson as she flew out of the starting blocks on port tack.
The second start was clean under black flag and the fleet of 65 Fireballs headed upwind deep into Comet Bay towards the beach. First round the windward mark was Western Australian, Americas Cup and past Fireball master, Gordon Lucas and his crew Jake Flintoff, closely followed by the Brit pack including regatta leader Tom Gillard and Sam Brearey. But after the wing mark gybe, two South Australian boats, Robin Inns and Joel Coultas and Greg Allison and Richard Watson, absolutely flew downwind to power into the lead.
Inns and Coultas and Allison and Watson got engaged in a dogfight up the next beat but it was Inns and Coultas who rounded clear ahead with the British pair, Gillard and Brearey in close pursuit. John Heywood and Brett Littledike had also worked up through the fleet to get in sight of a podium finish. The final reach got quite fresh, providing a few spills but Inns steered 'Dreadlock Holiday' to take the gun ahead of Gillard and Brearey in 'North Meets South' and 'Renegade' of Heywood and Littledike third.
Robin Inns said modestly in the bar later, "We got a bit lucky, we read the shifts well but they were big! The guys in front of us got caught by a big gust which backed their jib and dropped them in the drink."
There was a short delay to adjust the course but the conditions remained similar apart from the gusts just got stronger! The second race of the day was a clean start with a new leader at the top mark. British boat 'Southpaws' sailed by Derian and Andy Scott sailed a solid first beat to round just ahead of fellow Brits, Martin Lewis and Richard Byrne.
Two ultra fast reaches later and the flying Brits Lewis and Byrne has stormed into a good lead followed by the consistent Aussies, Inns and Coultas. By the last windward mark rounding Lewis and Byrne sailing 'Mutleys Revenge' were lapping back markers and opening up a 100m lead. Good boat handling downwind secured them a deserved victory over the new regatta leaders Inns and Coultas. Multiple Fireball World champions Chips Howard and Vyv Townend finished their day with the final step on the podium for race four.
The Fireball class awards handicap prizes each day and today's winners were: Race 3, Jim Hughes and James Belton from South Australia, and Race 4, Derian and Andy Scott of Great Britain.
Surprisingly more of the fleet finished both races today proving that lessons are learnt at all levels which is a great sign for a healthy class like the Fireball. The fleet came ashore to more free beer and 'snags in buns' supplied by the host club Mandurah Offshore Fishing and Sailing Club.
Forecast for tomorrow: Slightly less breeze, 12 - 15 knots from the East and a chance of a thunderstorm.
Provisional Results after 4 races:
1. Robin Inns and Joel Coultas (AUS) 5,3,1,2 11pts
2. Tom Gillard and Sam Coultas (GBR) 1,4,2,6 13pts
3. John Heywood and Brett Littledike (AUS) 7,1,3,7 18pts
For full results visit: www.fireballaustralia.org