7 hours spent on the water was worth it for both competitors and race committee in the Harken Laser World Championship, the championship finally got underway.
With two races completed after a delayed start and one race having to be abandoned and resailed for one of the 2 fleets conditions were still tough. In 8 to 9 knots the yellow fleet were recalled on their first start and then started under a black flag. Michail ARISTEIDIS from Greece led at the first mark from Maciej GRABOWSKI (POL) and Michael BULLOT (NZL).
Aristeidis extended his lead throughout most of the race. Bullot passed Grabowski on the loop and closed Aristedis for a short period on the last reach of the trapezoid course but this was not enough to threaten the Greek. The blue fleet race was abandoned after the wind shifted 40 degrees on one side of the first downwind causing chaos at the downwind gate.
Hamish PEPPER from New Zealand was first to show at mark one on a re-set course in winds of 13 to 15 knots. By the end of the first downwind leg, defending champion, Gustavo LIMA from Portugal had caught Pepper and they both rounded opposite marks of the gate at the same time with Michael BLACKBURN just behind.
At the reach mark Pepper looked comfortable and Blackburn had edged ahead of Lima. Lima had a powerful downwind leg to overtake Blackburn and close on Pepper but it was not enough to dislodge Pepper.
The second yellow fleet race, in similar winds, saw Matias del SOLAR from Chile leading at the first mark from Mathieu MURATI from France. Murati found a shift on the left halfway up the second windward leg to pass the Chilean and then lead for to the finish after a 39 in his first race.
Mathias RIECK from Germany led the second race from start to finish which together with his ninth in the first race places him third overall, a good start to his chances of achieving his national Olympic committee's tough qualification criteria.
In a day of mixed fortunes several top sailors scored a bad result. Lima was one of these who scored a bad race, getting trapped on the left hand side of the course in his second race and finding himself well back in the fleet which even a defending champion could not recover from. However,in this highly competitive fleet with 9 nations from 5 continents in the top ten, there is a long way to go. A mixed forecast for the remainder of the championship will most likely see a few more stars have at least one bad race.
Full results are available on the event website at the address below.
Overall Top Ten
1 NZL PEPPER Hamish 9,0
2 AUS BLACKBURN Michael 9,0
3 GER RIECK Mathias 10,0
4 BRA SCHEIDT Robert 11,0
5 RSA BLANCKENBERG Gareth 12,0
6 FRA LE BRETON Thomas 15,0
7 AUT GERITZER Andreas 16,0
8 GBR HOWARD Mark James 17,0
9 NZL BULLOT Michael 18,0
10 CRO VUJASINOVIC Milan 21,0