With a lay day for the Finn Gold Cup today, the sailors are taking a well earned break, doing some sight seeing around Cadiz, or making last minute preparations for the final five races. It couldn't be tighter at the top. The first six boats are all within 10 points and second to fifth are within two points of each other; the next five places are within six points of each other. There is still everything to play for in these championships.
However, all but one of the sailors in the top 10 has at least one high score so far, so none of them can afford to make any more mistakes. The only sailor within the top 10 with a virtually clean sheet, and all top 10 finishes, is local sailor Rafael TRUJILLO (ESP). With his worst placing so far as 10, he must be hoping some of the other sailors around him slip up one more time.
In spite of this though, the depth of the fleet is as great as always. So far, 22 sailors have achieved a top 10 result this week, and 39 have achieved a top 20 result. This is going to make it extremely difficult to remain consistent in the tricky breezes out in the Bay of Cadiz.
The weather today is very much the same: cloudless skies and good breezes, although there is slightly less wind than yesterday. The conditions look set to continue for the next few days at least.
The scene today though is of a deserted dinghy park. A handful of sailors are making small adjustments or repairs and a couple of boats are going out sailing for some last minute testing. 'It's not like the old days," reminisced veteran Finn sailor Jorgen LINDHARDTSEN (DEN). 'Back then, everyone would be working on the boats and masts, making adjustments, repairs. Today there is much less you can do to the boat.' he says scanning the Finn park, devoid of everything but covered boats and a few sailors.
Jorgen has been sailing in the Finn Gold Cup for 28 years. He picked up a new mast on the way down to Cadiz, borrowed a sail and is currently languishing in 60th place, a situation he is not particularly happy with. 'I have no speed and no pointing,' he commented wryly. While most people his age would be pleased to be still sailing, Jorgen is an icon for the more time-challenged sailor. Still sailing OK Dinghies and Finns, Jorgen still manages to beat the best in the OK Dinghy class, recently finishing in third place in the European Championships this summer.
At the other end of the age spectrum, the Junior Finn Gold Cup is also being sailed here, combined with the senior fleet as has been the tradition for the past few years. Leading Junior at present is Marin MISURA (CRO) in 26th place after a consistent string of results between 17th and 34th. Second placed Junior is Ed GREIG (GBR) in 46th place, and third Junior is Tapi NIRKKO (FIN) in 62nd place. Although they are fairly spread out there is still a long way to go.
Sharing their course with the Finn so far in this regatta, the Ynglings sailed their final day today, so for the next three days the Finns should have Delta course to themselves.
Racing resumes tomorrow with two more races. With points so tight, everything could change.
Double-handed Dinghy Men and Women - 470
Racing Postponed in Final Phase of Qualifiers.
In the early afternoon, the wind turned 180 degrees in direction half the clock and finally left the 470 race courses, Alpha and Bravo.
On the women's course, the Race Committee managed to complete one race for both groups, whilst over with the men only one race was completed for Group A.
The Race Committee decided to postpone the races until further notice for all groups.
So the boats returned to the slipway, and for the last few hours have been waiting for the signal of the Race Committee to call them back onto the water.
This signal was given shortly after 1900 hours, and racing will take place in order of importance of the Groups, Men Groups B-C and both Women groups in an attempt to finalize the Qualifiers.
The only completed race of the 470 Men, was race 4 in group A in which Gabrio ZANDONA and Andrea TRANI (ITA) took the gun, but still sit behind Andreas KOSMATOPOULOS and Kostas TRIGONIS (GRE).
This morning Sofia BEKATOROU and Emilia TSOULFA (GRE) retained their lead with another bullet. Vlada ILIENKO and Natalia GAPONOVICH (RUS) have moved into second overall from Lisa WESTERHOF and Margriet MATHIJSSE (NED).
With one discard now coming into play, the results show a rather different picture. Christina BASSADONE and Katherine HOPSON (GBR) are in third overall, with the Sydney Gold Medallists Jenny ARMSTRONG and Belinda STOWELL (AUS) have moved up to fourth by winning the race today in their group.
Following the completion of more racing late on the 470 courses, The first ladies to come back to the slipway were Therese TORGERSSON and Vendela ZACHRISSON (SWE). They received a second Rule 42 yellow flag from the Jury on their way to the windward mark after the start. Consequently they were required to retire from the race.
The biggest fear of the pair following their penalty was that as a result they would not make it into the Gold Fleet of the Championship and their goal of qualifying Sweden for the Olympic Games would be unsuccessful at this early phase.
As the results came in, they are sure of their place in the Gold Fleet as 19 overall.
No significant changes appear after the completion of race 6, and final qualification race of the women.
In the light sea breezes, which are prevalent but have not materialised so far here in the Bay of Cadiz, the men in Group A sailed only one race, and stayed ashore while Group B and C went on the water to catch up in the number of races with Group A.
Tomorrow, all the men's groups will have two more races to the qualifying round of the championship, a day that was due to be their lay-day, they will start the finals on Monday.
High-performance Dinghy Open - 49er
Action from the 49er © Event MediaGreat Britain's Chris DRAPER and Simon HISCOCKS pulled out a useful 8-point lead at the end of qualifying in the 49er World Championship in Cadiz. A change of conditions did little to slow their progress as they notched up two second places in medium airs during the early session. Others would have to wait for hours on the water as the strong offshore Levante breeze finally gave way to the first sea breezes that this competition has seen.
The Norwegian team that had held joint first place with the Brits dropped to fifth overall after an 8,11 score in the lighter breezes, making way for the surprise package of this event, the Brazilian team of Andre Otto FONSECA and Rodrigo Linck DUARTE, to move into second ahead of European Champions from Germany, Marcus BAUR and Max GROY.
Other British teams excelled in the medium airs, with Alister RICHARDSON and Pete GREENHALGH taking a 2,1 score through some well-timed corner banging. Asked what their secret was, training partner Stevie Morrison answered for them: "Ring the bell." That's the slang used for sailing into a corner, an extreme move where you can win big or lose big. Paul BROTHERTON and Mark ASQUITH are on the edge of the top 10 after taking a 1,4 score through to the Gold Fleet finals which begin on Monday.
End of qualification is always a tense time, as many competitors' whole livelihoods depend on their performance at this, the most important regatta of the year. Vincent JOYEUX and Frederic MOREAU looked glum at the thought of just having missed the Gold Fleet, although provisional results indicate that they have just scraped into the all-crucial 25 place by a point and a bit.
There are always some high-profile casualties who fail to make it through to the Big Boys' final, and amongst them are Michael HESTBAEK, a Danish two-time winner of the Europeans and 8th in last year's Worlds, who finished 29th. The Polish team of Pawel Kacprowski and Pawel KUZMICKI came frustratingly close in 27 place, but the Netherlands team of Pieter LANTEMANS and Pim NIEUWENHUIS came nowhere close, rounding up qualification in 34th.
The irony for them is that having finished ninth at the Hawaii Worlds in 2002, they have already qualified the Netherlands for a place in the Olympics next August. And yet if they fail to finish in the top 15 of the Worlds, their national sailing authority will not send them. They have one last chance to book their ticket at the World Championships being held close to the Olympic venue next April. But there is a danger that they will lose their funding and support from the Dutch Sailing Federation between now and then. They face a long, hard road to Athens, but that is what Olympic sailing is all about.
Tonight, sailors will be relaxing at the 49er party for different reasons, either to celebrate or to commiserate. With a lay day tomorrow, the sailors get a chance to steel themselves for the final three days of racing, whether it be in the Gold, Silver or Bronze Fleets.
Multihull Open - Tornado
Inaction from the Tornado © Event MediaThe 'Levante', easterly wind, has not yet left the Bay of Cadiz although it has been moderating on the Tornado Race Course. Race 4 started at 12:28 this afternoon, with 8-12 kt but had to be cancelled due to the shifting conditions and decreasing wind strength.
After a long wait a timid SW wind came in with 7-8 kt and a new start for race 4 was given at 16:51 after 3 General Recalls. The wind changes brought different teams to the the forefront of finishing today: Argentineans Santiago LANGE and Carlos ESPINOLA finished first, Dutch Sven KARSENBARG and Mischa HEEMSKERK second and Puerto Ricans Enrique FIGUEROA and Jorge HERNANDEZ third.
The three teams agreed in what was a very long day,' We waited for 8 hours on the water to sail only 1 race. But we are very pleased with our third position' says Enrique FIGUEROA.
Mitch BOOTH and Herbie DERCKSEN, excellent strong wind sailors, nevertheless had a great race in such light conditions and finished fourth.
After 4 races Darren BUNDOCK and John FORBES are still the overall leaders followed 2 points behind by the British duo of Leigh MCMILLAN and Mark BULKELEY. Third place is now currently occupied by Dutch supremo Mitch BOOTH and Herbert DERCKSEN and Gold Medallists Roman HAGARA/Hans-Peter STEINACHER are fourth overall.
With only four races out of a six required to complete the qualification series, the Tornado's will race tomorrow, their scheduled lay-day.