TWT revelled in the light eight knot southerly of the first race, with a sickening swell rolling through the 1.7 mile race course. The team led by 1 minute 40 seconds at the top mark and extended to a winning margin of 2 minutes 33 seconds by the finish, an enormous lead in such a tightly-fought class as the Farr 40.
Tactician Tiziano NAVA (ITA) explained the winning strategy: 'We sailed up the course before the race and found more wind on the right. I also expected a shift to come from the right, so we started at the committee boat end. All the fleet went to the left hand side of the course, and it felt a little too risky where we were. But when we tacked, we said: 'Believe, believe, come on, come on.' We tacked on 170 degrees but soon we were on 180, 185, so it was good for us.'
Brighton Star put in an excellent performance to finish second, just eleven seconds ahead of fellow Australian boat Team Shockwave. Team Shockwave was skippered by substitute helmsman Mark HEELEY (GBR) for the day while owner Neville CRICHTON (AUS) was ashore on previously scheduled business. Jim RICHARDSON (USA) and Barking Mad put their defense of the world title in severe jeopardy by being the only premature starter in this race. The American boat turned back to restart, and did their usual amazing recovery job to pull back to 14 by the finish, but it is looking increasingly likely that we will see a new winner at the prize giving on Friday evening.
The wind lightened even more for the next race, and it was another Italian team Joe Fly who took up the running in the six to seven knots of shifting southerly breeze that wafted across the course. However, up the second beat, TWT hooked further into a line of breeze towards the Sydney shore and overhauled their compatriots. The final run was a tense affair as the two Italians engaged in a gybing duel that left the result in doubt until the last few metres before the finish. TWT came in to the finish on starboard on a hot angle, and gybed around the mark to take the winner's gun. In the end, Giovanni MASPERO (ITA) was fortunate to get Joe Fly across the line before the rapidly closing Warpath. Barking Mad climbed from 13 at the first mark to come fourth at the finish.
With only one race completed in the tempestuous conditions of the previous day, Principal Race Officer Peter REGGIO was under pressure to get another race underway. He wasn't given much to work with as the wind virtually died to nothing. But gradually the breeze shifted round from the south and started to fill in again as it settled in a north-easterly direction. The fleet got away cleanly in ten knots of wind, although a couple of the front runners made second-row starts and were forced to tack away, looking for clear breeze. Morning Glory and TWT were among these, although worst hit of all was Mascalzone Latino who found herself in last place around the first lap. She recovered to 18, but this result plummeted Vincenzo ONORATO's (ITA) team down from fourth to tenth overall, so tightly bunched are the scores.
At the front of the fleet, 2000 World Champion John CALVERT-JONES (AUS) was showing some of his old form to steer Southern Star unchallenged to a victory of 1 minute 11 seconds in front of fellow Australian boats Emotional Hooligan and Evolution. The local teams had broken the dominance of the Italians, and Richard PERINI's Evolution reclaimed top of the leader board.
Six of the ten scheduled races have now been completed, enough to constitute a championship. REGGIO predicts a good end to the championship tomorrow: 'I've seen everything from north-east to north-west on the forecasts, but we will have wind. I won't be running more than three races tomorrow. That's what we're gunning for, but we won't be starting a race after 4.15pm.'
On paper, it looks like a two-horse race between TWT and Evolution, but a twelve-point gap to the chasing pack can disappear in a single race, such is the depth and quality of this 28-boat fleet. RODOLFI said he would be happy to race in any wind up to 20 knots. PERINI said: '20 knots would suit me just fine too.' Not surprising considering his dominant performance in yesterday's windy race.
Evolution's tactician, Hamish PEPPER (NZL), said he would not be bringing any match race tactics to bear until the final race. 'It would be pretty silly at this stage. We've come in and seen that we're one point ahead. We'll go out tomorrow and it will be a fresh sheet. We've seen that TWT can sail well not just in the light but in all conditions, so they're going to be a tough enemy. I'm going to go out with the same game plan, and that's to do the best we can in each race. Then maybe we'll play the game in the final race. We'll keep an eye out if we need to attack or defend.'
|3||Team Shockwave||AUS||Neville CRICHTON||4||17||2||3||15||6||47|
|4||Emotional Hooligan||AUS||Marcus BLACKMORE||17||4||6||6||13||2||48|
|7||Morning Glory||GER||Hasso PLATTNER||9||6||3||9||10||17||54|
|8||Ichi Ban||AUS||Matt ALLEN||1||1||14||20||5||14||55|
|9||Southern Star||AUS||John CALVERT-JONES||13||10||5||13||14||1||56|
|10||Mascalzone Latino||ITA||Nvincenzo ONARATO||6||11||4||8||9||18||56|