A weak high pressure today over the eastern Baltic brought cool sunny skies, but little wind on Day Four of the Audi ORCi Offshore World Championship
After a long mid-day delay, race managers from the Yacht Club Merenkävijät were finally able to set one windward-leeward course in a fitfully weak 5-6 knot seabreeze, allowing both course areas to get one more inshore race on the scoreboard.
While in contrast to Tuesday's blustery breeze and yesterday's moderate air, today's light winds were an appropriate test to help determine ISAF's two new offshore World Champions by week's end. Winners on both courses were those adept at avoiding traffic and finding the best patches of pressure on an otherwise flat, glassy sea.
In their best showing yet in the series, Thomas Blixt's TP52 Blixt Pro Sailing from Sweden did just that, just nudging series leader Alberto Rossi and his Italian Farr 40 Enfant Terrible out of their first win by a mere 7 seconds in corrected time. This is ironic, since the larger boat trailed the smaller for nearly the entire first half of the 5.6-mile course. Rossi does, however, retain his lead which has now stretched to 6.5 points over Peter Schmidt's Evento 42 Silva Hispaniola.
As might be expected, the light conditions of the day favored the faster, lighter boats, so Thomas Nilsson's TP52 Wolfpack also showed well, finishing the course first on elapsed time as always but also earning their best corrected time finish yet in third place. Roberto Monti's GP42 Airis also placed a respectable 5th in this race, putting them in a third-place podium position for the first time in the series.
In Class B action, the newly-formed Gold and Silver fleets met for the first time, and it was Erik Van Vuuren's Dutch Salona 37 Lenco taking the day's win in convincing form, nearly two and a half minutes ahead of the runner-up, Mats Vicotrin's Swedish X-332 Sport Boxer. This first win in the Gold Fleet was not good enough, however, to overcome the points gap with Patrik Forsgren's Swedish First 36.7 Team Arken Zoo, who remain in the lead with a mere 1 point margin over Lenco.
And after an impressive string of four consecutive wins in the qualifying series, Mihkel Kosk's Estonian NM38S Sugar 2 could only manage an 11th today to drop into third place, while Juergen Klinghardt's German X-332 patent3 lurks only two points back.
In the Class B Silver Fleet the action at the top of the class standings was a little tighter, as Mart Tamm's Estonian First 34.7 Katarina Lee beat Joakim Majander's local-based Bavaria 35 Match Troy by a mere 16 seconds to take an early lead in this series.
Tomorrow morning the final offshore race of the week is scheduled, and if completed will allow one discard for each team, thus re-shuffling the results before the final day of racing on Saturday.
More information, links, results when available, videos, and photos from Max Ranchi Photography are available on the event homepage at www.orciworlds2012.com.