The Australian Youth Championship continued today from McCrae Yacht Club, on the waters of Port Phillip Bay. After a false start three back to back races were held, bringing the race committee back up to schedule for the regatta.
The day started with the committee postponing the racing, as there was little wind on the course. At 10:30 though, the breeze started to fill in and the AP was lowered and competitors headed out to the race-course. This was only to find that the wind had again died out, forcing the committee to postpone until 12:30. After a lot of waiting around, the overcast skies cleared to a bright sunny day, and a nice breeze filled in from the west, and the AP was lowered and competitors headed out to the racecourse for a second time.
The start line was set, and just as the starting sequence began the wind changed over 30 degrees, forcing the course to be moved. After a lot of waiting, the start sequences began, with no general recalls in the first race. The wind was about 12 knots from the west, with gusts coming in at about 14 knots.
In the first race, the Laser division was dominated by Simon MORGAN, who is pulling further and further ahead of the fleet in overall points. The Radial girls race was won by strong contender Samantha BOYD, with Steven TODD winning the boys division. The on water jury made their presence known when issuing Rule 42 penalties to a full rig and a radial during the race.
The 420 fleet was lead around the track by Elise RECHICHI and Tessa PARKINSON, their finely tuned techniques and finesse leaving the boys in their wake. Finishing almost a minute behind the girls were the first boys Mathieu HIGGINS and Tim LYNCH. A collision between two boats at the gybe mark on the last lap resulted in a protest that will be heard tonight.
The 29ers were spread far apart, with Evan WALKER and Matt HODGE bringing the fleet home, whilst the Hobies sailed a close race, won by Michael PFEFFER and Kirralee HOULAHAN.
The second race was got underway quickly, with the wind freshening and swinging to bias the pin end of the line. The 420s crowded at the favoured end, with some boats being squeezed out and only a few able to get out of there cleanly. Many of the Laser fleet swam on the run, as the shifty conditions caught sailors off guard. A pile up at the gybe mark left a bunch of Lasers on top of one another, with again more protests resulting. The Hobie fleet were again competitive, seeing some new faces at the front of the fleet - David ANDERSON and Stephen BRAYSHAW, who missed the first 4 races due to a broken mast on the first day. The 29ers enjoyed the fresh conditions, having some huge rides on the downwind legs.
The third race saw the 420 fleet spread far apart, and although the girls (Rechichi and Parkinson) had a poor start they regained their form to finish third, behind Nathan OUTTERIDGE & Iain JENSEN and Will PHILLIPS and Jono NETTLE. The 29ers had an exciting first work, the jury issuing a penalty to one of the leading boats for pumping. Phil MURDOCH and Richard DANIELL from Townsville had a fantastic race, finishing fourth, their best result of the series, whilst top place was held again by Walker and Hodge in Rhodes Waterside.
Morgan, Todd and Boyd again dominated the Laser full rig, Radial boys and Radial girls divisions, extending their lead and almost looking unbeatable for the regatta. Pfeffer and Houlahan brought the Hobies home yet again, and are now sitting above Taylor BOOTH (current Hobie Tiger World champion) and crew Murray WRIGHT on the scoreboard.
Tomorrow is the last day of the regatta, and with seven races being held so far, sailors need to finish one more race in order to have their maximum of two drops for the series. With the forecast expecting 15-20knots tomorrow afternoon, the racing should be as exhilarating and exciting as today. The Presentation will be held at 1830hrs tomorrow night.
The Australian Youth Championship is being held in conjunction with the 2004 Sail Melbourne International Regatta.