Three different race winners and a new leader are the result of racing today. Following on from yesterday's layday, the 37 crews sailed out in to the bay of Santander and were greeted by a gentle 5-7 knot breeze and clear blue skies.
With the Dutch team of Annelies THIES
(NED), Annemieke BES and Petronella de JONG and the Danish team of Dorte JENSEN tied for the championships on 26 points each, today's three races proved that the title was far from settled!
Race 7 in the series of ten started with an individual recall. Paula LEWIN (BER) and Shirley ROBERTSON
(GBR), Sarah AYTON, and Sarah WEBB (GBR) both returned to re-start but the crews of Loreana JACOB (COL) and Lena CARLSSON (SWE 51) didn't and were scored OCS for the race.
Up the first beat the majority of the fleet headed inshore to the left had side of the course. It was noted that the few boats that headed to the right hand side were sailing in a different wind to the others and benefited greatly. At the top mark it was the local boat Mar CASTANEDO, Sheila MEDIAVILLA and Laura CHINCHURRETA (ESP 2), who showed good upwind speed, that held a minute lead over the American boat of Carol CRONIN.
(USA). As CASTANEDO hoisted around the top mark, a twenty degree right hand shift came in, allowing the following fleet to gybe set at the mark and sail directly for the bottom mark. CASTANEDO had sailed beyond the shift and had to gybe late to sail back to the rest of the fleet. However they had retained enough of their lead to round the bottom mark at the same time as CRONIN. These two leading boats were soon followed by Coraline JONET (FRA 5), Katerine GIAKOUMIDOU (GRE 1) and Kristin WAGNER (GER 268).
CASTANEDO again showed good upwind speed and tactics to lead again around the top mark for the second time with a healthy 30 second margin over CRONIN. Behind it was Yumiko SHIGE (JPN 1) who also had a good beat to round in fourth place behind BARKOW (USA 337). The run saw CRONIN again chase down CASTANEDO, who just managed to hold on for the race win with CRONIN only a boat length behind. The Japanese crew of Yumiko SHIGE, Ako NAKURO and Mitsue HIROTSU did very well to take third place, followed by the next American crew of Sally BARKOW in fourth.
Race eight of the series was sailed in a slightly more wind averaging around 8-10 knots. This time the fleet got away cleanly and with the wind settled at 300, the beat was a more even affair. As the boats reconverged at the top mark it was the French crew of Anne LE HELLEY, Elodie LESAFFRE and Marion DEPLANQUE (FRA) who rounded first, coming in from the right hand side of the course. She was closely followed by the Norwegian boat of Karianne EIKELAND (NOR) and Betsy ALLISON (USA) who came in from the left hand side. As with the beat, the run was tactically open and the fleet were undecided as to which was the best route to the bottom mark. LE HELLEY managed to pick the best course and rounded clear ahead of the fleet and would continue to stay ahead to take the race win. Behind it was the Ukranian crew Ruslana TARAN who was showing good speed again to take third place behind EIKELAND (NOR 406) and just ahead ALLISON (USA). CRONIN continued her run of good form to take fifth place.
Race 9 again started in the 8-10 knot breeze. This time it was Dorte JENSEN'S turn to shine as she led the up the beat to round first. Having scored a 31 and 17 in the first two races of the day, the World number 1 started to show some of her previous form. Again it was CRONIN who was doing the chasing as she rounded in second place. Ekaterina SKUDINA (RUS) rounded in third place followed by WAGNER (GER), PALLUDAN (DEN), Karianne EIKELAND (NOR) and FERRIS (NZL).
JENSEN and CRONIN extended from the rest of the fleet whilst having a battle between themselves for the lead. CRONIN, who had showed good downwind speed all day, edged out JENSEN at the gate to lead up the second beat. SKUDINA rounded in third with EIKELAND in fourth, WAGNER having lost two places on the run.
JENSEN and CRONIN continued the battle up the beat and it was CRONIN who just managed to sneek around the top mark before JENSEN. CRONIN extended on the run for the race win and to finish the day with an impressive scoreline of 2, 5, 1 for the day.
Overall, JENSEN has moved up into first place but with CRONIN having a very consistent day, she has jumped from 15th to 2nd overall, just one point behind CRONIN. The Dutch team of THIES, who were leading before today's racing, dropped down to third with a not so impressive scoreline of 9, 30, 16.
When asked about today's racing THIES commented, "With the calibre of the fleet here, the start and first beat is so important for a good result. You have to round in the top five otherwise you are sucked into the fleet and are struggling the whole time."
As THIES looks set to qualify the Netherlands for Athens, she now has to concentrate on beating the second Dutch boat of Janneke HIN, who is lying in seventh. "We are not really concentrating for a win here as we really just need to beat the other Dutch crew, though it would be a bonus if we did get a medal here!", said THIES of the importance of tomorrow's race.
The second Danish boat of PALLUDAN (DEN) and second American boat of BARKLOW (USA) rounded out the top five with fourth and fifth respectively.
Tonight as the boats are being packed away, evidence of the intense rivalry of some of the crews is shown as the two Russian boats vying for selection have both filed protests against each other. These will be heard later this evening and could change the top ten score board.
Tomorrow's race will be vital with only sixteen points separating the top eight crews. Where all of the top boats have been struggling at some point during the regatta, it is still very open and no one is willing to say who will become the Yngling World Champion.
With Holland looking almost definite to qualify, the next three qualification spots look likely to go to New Zealand, Norway and Canada.
Full results are available on the event website at the address below.