With the race committee unwilling to fire the start gun in wind speeds exceeding 15 knots, day four of the Yachting New Zealand Olympic Nomination Trials involved much monitoring of the conditions and sitting around waiting for the breeze to stabilise.
The Europe and Lasers were scheduled to begin race six and seven of their eleven race series at 10.00am, and the call was made to proceed with the programme as planned. With conditions of 11 - 18 knot breezes and moderate seas, racing got underway.
As we have now come to expect the Laser fleet were very competitive, with Hamish PEPPER, Rod DAWSON, Nik BURFOOT, Michael BULLOT and Andrew Murdoch rounding the marks in the top spots in race six. Pepper led in the early stages of the race with Dawson and Burfoot vying for second place. Dawson eventually managed to get past Pepper to take the bullet, followed by Bullot in second, Burfoot in third, Pepper in fourth, then Murdoch and Slater. After monitoring the wind speed again, it was decided to proceed with race seven as planned. Rod DAWSON continued on his winning streak to notch up another win, with Andrew MURDOCH taking second place and Dan SLATER coming in third. Hamish PEPPER and Nik BURFOOT were fourth and fifth respectively. The results of day four have not changed the order of the top placed sailors in this fleet, but there have been some significant changes to the point differentials. Twenty-one year old Andrew MURDOCH from Kerikeri has now extended his overall lead to one point ahead of Hamish Pepper, while Rod Dawson's two wins have allowed him to close the seven point gap which separated the pair at the end of day three to just two points.
Europe sailor Sarah MACKY from Kohimarama Yacht Club, added another two wins to her already impressive scorecard today. Having won all seven races sailed to date, she is now looking set to secure the Yachting New Zealand Olympic nomination, which she could do without having to sail in all eleven races. Former crew for Sharon FERRIS' Yngling campaign, Sara WINTHER, scored two seconds today, she now leads third placed Miranda POWRIE by four points.
The start gun was fired at 12.30pm as planned for the 470 fleet's sixth race of the series. Christchurch duo Andrew BROWN and Jamie HUNT notched up their second consecutive win, from Simon COOKE and Alastair GAIR with Stephen and Philip KEEN in third. Shelley HESSON and Linda DICKSON maintain their lead over Melinda HENSHAW and Jan SHEARER. Hesson and Dickson scored a five and six today, while Henshaw and Shearer scored a nine and seven.
The conditions played havoc with the seventh 470 race, which had to be abandoned when the wind radically shifted. The boats were kept out on the course along with the men's Mistral sailors who were out on the water in time for their scheduled 2.30pm start time. Finally the wind settled to a much lighter, 5 - 10 knots and the second 470 race got underway just after 3.00pm followed closely by the sixth men's Mistral race of the regatta. It proved to be Andrew Brown and Jamie Hunt's day today and they notched up another win, which sees them top the leader board one point ahead of Stephen and Philip Keen and four in front of Simon COOKE and Alastair GAIR.
The men's Mistral fleet only managed one race today, with time eventually running out waiting for the breeze to stabilise. Twenty-one year old James Wells from Bucklands Beach scored his third bullet of the series which sees him take the overall lead from Tom ASHLEY. It also proved to be another successful day for 2003 Yachting New Zealand Youth Team member David ROBERTSON, who crossed the mark in second place, in front of Matthew MCCORMICK.
There will now be a break in the programme with no racing tomorrow or Wednesday. The Race Committee are in the process of deciding whether to resume racing on Thursday, a day earlier than scheduled, to avoid having to hold races in the heavier winds forecast for the weekend. This could mean that the eleven races are completed at the end of Friday 23 January. The outcome of this decision will be publicised later in the week.
Full results are available on the event website at the address below.