Day 4 of the ISAF Match Racing World Championship in Ekaterinburg, RUS on Thursday brought similar conditions to Wednesday. The sky was clear and temperatures were into the high 20's.
The breeze started out from the North for the first two flights, which meant that the race course could be set parallel to the shore giving the tourists on the beach a good view of the racing; though one swimmer had a bit of a surprise when Ian WILLIAMS (GBR) steered his Ricochet 750 between her and the beach. "The pressure on the left was much better and getting to the shore was imperative".
Right at the end of flight two when Ed BAIRD (USA) and Eugeny NEUGODNIKOV (RUS) were within touching distance of the finish line the wind went hard right, collapsing the spinnakers and leaving the crews scrambling for their jibs. Baird held on to win by less than a boat length.
The wind settled (well, loosely settled) out of the east at 6-10 knots but still threw a few curve balls in to keep the PRO on his toes with the occasional 60 degree lefty. Ben (the PRO) did a great job staying on top of the shifts and kept the mark boat crew busy dragging the marks around to keep the beats true.
At 9pm time was called after the completion of flight 10, leaving 7 flights for Friday to finish the second round robin. On Tuesday the wind came in at 7pm and some of the sailors asked "Why are we not racing, there is excellent wind?"
Nobody is likely to ask that question again.
Taranov (RUS) def Presti (FRA)
Hnasen (SWE) def Cian (ITA)
Jablonski (POL) def Lindberg (FIN)
Neugodnikov (RUS) def Williams (GBR)
Hansen (SWE) def Taranov (RUS)
Presti (FRA) def Jablonski (POL). In a close fought battle that included an epic gibing duel down the final run Philippe Presti FRA managed to edge out the No1 Ranked Skipper Jablonski POL to take the win.
Cian (ITA) def Lindberg (FIN)
Baird def Neugonnikov: Baird led off the line and held control on the first beat holding his nerve as Neugodnikov led them both into a patch of lighter breeze, but Neugodnikov RUS was not going to be held and wriggled past Baird USA to hold a firm lead by mark 2.
Baird bounced back up the final beat and led around mark 3 only just holding off Neugodnikov as the wind swung right at the finish.
Cian (ITA) def Presti (FRA).
Hansen (SWE) def Lindberg (FIN)
Arbozov (RUS) def Berntsson (SWE)
Williams (GBR) def Richard (FRA)
Taranov (RUS) def Cian (ITA). Cian received a pre-start penalty but led off the line and held one up the first beat then managed to hold Taranov out whilst he shook of the penalty, the dream move turned bad as Taranov just slipped past and held a slender lead to the finish.
Berntsson (SWE) def Williams (GBR)
Neugodnikov (RUS) def Richard (FRA).
Baird (USA) def Arbuzonv (RUS). Arbuzov blasted out of the start line and held the lead till past Mark 2. A neater and faster rounding by Baird helped him carry speed in the light conditions and after a short tacking duel Baird took control of the favoured side and edged past Arbuzov.
Taranov (RUS) def Jablonski (POL).
Richard (FRA) def Berntsson (SWE). Richard split right and came out ahead, never looking back till the finish.
Arbuzov (RUS) def Neugodnikov (RUS).
Baird (USA) def Williams (GBR).
A big wind shift on the first beat saw flight 6 pulled back for a re-start.
Berntsson (SWE) def Neugodnikov (RUS). After leading the race before it was abandoned Neugodnikov cannot have believed his luck could get worse but snagging the pin end at the re-start and tearing off the ground weights left him with a penalty and postponement for the rest of the flight whilst the pin was re-laid.
Williams (GBR) def Arbozov (RUS).
Rishard (FRA) def Baird (USA. Handing Baird his only loss of the day must have put a small smile on Richards face but 7-17 won't leave you smiling for long.
Jablonski (POL) def Hansen (SWE). A pre-start penalty didn't damped Bjorn Hansen's spirits as he led Jablonski away from the line, a lead he held till just before mark 3 when the last laugh went to Jablonski as he sailed round Hansen leaving him astern with a penalty flag still waving from the Umpire boat.
Richard (FRA) def Arbuzov (RUS)
Lindberg (FIN) def Taranov (RUS)
Cian (ITA) def Jablonski (POL)
Presti (FRA) def Hansen (SWE). After the most aggressive pre-start seen so far, Bjorn HANSEN on Starboard entry drew Presti into a series of dial ups and then circles with the first one drawing a twin penalty, the second drawing a penalty to Hansen, the third a second penalty for Hansen and the fourth a penalty for Presti.
Everyone was amazed that Hansen managed to escape the black flag, you could see him in the cockpit whacking the nails into his own coffin. The drama didn't end there with Hansen leading off the line and Presti shouting something at the Umpires, I think about the number and colour of the flags displayed. Hansen settled quickly and strode away throwing off his outstanding penalty on the first beat. Presti somehow managed to edge round mark 1 ahead but Hansen set himself up to windward and rolled over Presti to regain the lead. With all the action happening around him it looked like Hansen missed the course change boat at mark 2. As the boats rounded a huge right shift came through and whilst Hansen tacked off Presti held on starboard heading for the new mark. Presti rounded the new mark whilst Hansen headed off and rounded the old windward mark. Presti took the win on the water and Hansen finished with his red flag flying. The resulting hearing saw Hansen withdraw his protest when he heard the evidence from the Race Committee and Umpires.
Baird (USA) def Berntsson (SWE)
Jablonski (POL) def Neugodnikov (RUS)
Cian (ITA) def Richard (FRA)
Presti (ITA) def Lindberg (FIN)
Arbuzov (RUS) def Hansen (SWE). After a close tussle all the way round the course Arbuzov led Hansen till the last 4 boat lengths when Hansen rolled over the top of Arbuzov on Port tack and went straight for the gybe on to starboard, heading directly at the committee boat three boat lengths away, Arbozov put his helm over but the boats smacked together amidships. Hansen continued to luff and both teams waved their Y flags furiously. A red penalty was handed out to Hansen because he took the advantage through nefarious means. Hansen dropped his kite quickly and threw off the penalty before Arbuzov could blink. Hansen dipped for the line and crossed first only to hear the long whistle blast from the Umpires handing him a second penalty and the victory to Arbuzov.
Williams (GBR) def Cian (ITA)
Lindberg (FIN) def Berntsson (SWE)
Baird (USA) def Presti (FRA). A pre-start penalty did no favours for Philippe Presti as Ed Baird continued to knock in the wins.
Willaims (GBR) def Lindberg (FIN)
Jablonski (POL) def Berntsson (SWE)
Arbuzov (RUS) def CIAN (ITA)
Full results from the World Championship will be published following the completion of Round Robin 2.