A day of testing racing on the penultimate day of the racing has determined two of the three medal winners. All that needs to be decided in tomorrow's final race who gets which colour.
As yesterday, Ben AINSLIE (GBR) and Rafael TRUJILLO (ESP) scored a win each, but Ben's tenth compared to Rafa's sixth, narrowed the gap between them to five points. Andrew SIMPSON'S two eighth places dropped him to third overall, but all three are still in with a chance of winning the Championship.
A light northerly wind caused the postponement flag to be flown onshore while waiting for the sea breeze to kick in. Finally the fleets were sent out and the first race got underway at 13.05 in a 10 to 12 knot north westerly, clear blue skies and some nice waves starting to build.
Getting a clean start first time, most of the favourites were just down or near to the committee boat. Matuesz Kusznierewicz (POL) started right next to the boat and tacked off to the right, which had proved heavily favoured yesterday in similar conditions. Ben Ainslie (GBR) tacked to the right as soon as he was clear out of the start and most boats soon followed this well worn track.
Those on the far left including Jonas HOEGH-CHRISTENSEN (DEN) and Emilios PAPATHANASIOU (GRE) started to look good, but a right shift toward the end brought all those boats who had favoured that side back to the front with David BURROWS (IRL) leading round the first mark with a nice lead over Guillaume FLORENT (FRA), Ali Enver ADAKAN (TUR), Mateusz, Sylvain CHTOUNDER (FRA) and Ainslie.
Sailing a triangle course, the reaches were fast and furious with Ainslie taking several boats on the first reach and the rest on the second, to lead round the bottom mark. From then on it was mainly a drag race to the right, and no one could catch Ainslie downwind, so he sailed on to his second win of the event.
Meanwhile, behind him, Michael FELLMANN (GER) was finding some form in the stronger wind and moved into third on the third beat after outpacing Burrows. Kusznierewicz narrowly beat Trujillo into sixth place on the downwind finish.
With an increased wind and larger waves, race ten was a Finn sailor's dream. As the wind was over 15 knots, the flag was up for free pumping downwind.
The start line was biased slightly towards the pin end, but the most thought the favoured side was still right. Mateusz executed another text book committee boat start to lead to the right. However half way there he was not looking too good, so tacked off to dig back into the pack. Emilios went further right and suffered later on.
Meanwhile those who had started nearer the favoured pin end had found a shift on the left. Race winner Rafael commented, 'I started mid left on the line and had really good speed off the line and then I tacked for the right on a 5 degree shift. After a while I saw Karlo and Jonas on the left sailing in much more pressure so I tacked over to get it and found myself leading round the first mark.' He was followed by Karlo KURET (CRO), Jonas HOEGH-CHRISTENSEN (DEN), Marin MISURA (CRO), who was actually OCS - and Anthony Nossiter (AUS). Ben Ainslie, who had started mid line but had got stuck in traffic, and Mateusz and Emilios, who had played the right, rounded someway back and started to play catch up.
By the now the wind was reaching 18 to 20 knots and the fleet really had fun on the triangle, with fantastic waves and great surfing to be had. Positions didn't change much with Rafael just protecting his lead from Karlo at the bottom mark and then extending it on the right hand track of the next beat and never looking back. After the next upwind and downwind he was greeted across the finish line by the usual cheering and applause from the locals. This was his third win of the championship.
Behind him the fleet dutifully followed him to the right on the upwind and generally down the middle on the run. Karlo held on to second for his best result of the week, with Jonas in third, Michael FELLMANN again scored a good result in fourth and David Burrows completed a good day in fifth.
After having a mediocre regatta so far, Class President, Philippe ROGGE, was very pleased with his first race. Sailing a blinder on the first upwind leg, he rounded the top mark in sixth place and held onto a top 12 slot until the final downwind leg, when he slipped back to 17. Still, it was a good result for someone who completed his training programme for this event back at the SPA regatta. The 2002 one that is - and he hasn't sailed since then!
With one more race to sail tomorrow, Ben AINSLIE has a 5 point lead over Rafael Trujillo who has a 10 point lead over Andrew Simpson. Only these three can win the championship tomorrow, but fourth placed Jonas HOEGH-CHRISTENSEN can move into third if he posts a result 16 places better than Simpson.
The next six places are wide open with only 13 points the difference, and with many of those discarding a high score, they all need a good result to keep their position. At the moment, Karlo KURET is leading David Burrows, Sebastien GODEFROID, Guillaume Florent, Mateusz KUSZNIEREWICZ and Anthony NOSSITER.
Speaking before today's race Rafael said, "I am happiest in the boat when it is blowing 10 to 15 knots. I am much faster then. I have been training here for the past year and it is a really nice place to sail in Summer. The weather today will be good for me a sea breeze will come in for the racing and we will have good winds." Rafael's analysis proved correct and now he is delighted at having made sure of a medal. He later commented, 'I have won individual races before, but never finished in the top three. I am now really tired as this has been a tough championship but am so pleased to have won a medal. It is incredible for me to finish on the podium. I am very happy about that. The 11th race will decide the colour of that medal.
Double-handed Dinghy - 470
Big Waves - Big Competition
In a glorious westerly sea breeze, the Poniente, which steadily built as the day progressed, the 470 men and women sailed the first two races of their five race final today off the venue at Rota, in the Bay of Cadiz.
Following the expected calmer breezes yesterday, in conditions that are consistent with the switch from the easterly Levante to the westerly Poniente, athletes on both courses enjoyed the Atlantic swell that the wind brought. Having said that conditions were still tough, not so much due to the shifting wind, as the short chop that sat on top of the longer waves.
Split into Gold and silver for these last three days, the World Championship, as well as Olympic Qualification slots open to those who have not previously qualified, will be decided by the end of Wednesday. Following yesterday's expected exodus of the Levante, and the 24-hour light period of breeze before the emergence of the Poniente today, it was clear that every athlete has their preferred conditions.
On course Alpha, where the gold fleet men and women are racing, Surfing conditions downwind, but difficult and technical upwind. British number one Nick ROGERS, currently ranked fifth in the ISAF World Sailing Rankings, summed up the conditions. "The shifts today were very unpredictable, it was a bit of a struggle, especially in the first race. We had to learn what it was doing"
Getting a good start was of vital importance in both races today. With the Atlantic driven waves and a more stable breeze, the Alpha course resembled the Monaco Grand Prix circuit, with little or no overtaking options. People who got a bad start found it difficult to claw back, with the results in both races reflecting this. The fleet separated into small bunches in both races, with every place being fought over.
Gildas PHILIPPE and Nicolas LE BERRE (FRA) mastered the tricky conditions well in the first race of the day, taking first place and scoring their best result of the regatta so far. That result coupled with a ninth place in the second race of the day has improved their position and they now sit a mere one point behind Alvaro MARINHO and Miguel NUNES (POR), who as well as a third place finish, also scored a disappointing 18, which they currently discard.
Gabrio ZANDONA and Andrea TRANI (ITA) have let slip their dominant early event performance of firsts and seconds and were less than impressed with a 20 place finish yesterday. Picking up slightly in the windier conditions today they finished eighth in the first race and seventh in the second, and still maintain a nine-point advantage over second place. That spot is still held by Spanish sailors Gustavo MARTINEZ DORESTE and Dimas WOOD, despite struggling to get to grips with today, finishing 11 and 14.
Nathan WILMOT and Malcolm PAGE are in the process of staging an impressive comeback after having dropped a couple of results out of the top ten in the groups stages of the regatta. They followed up solid sixth in the first race of the day by doing a horizon job on the fleet in race two, eventually winning by over a minute as they found race winning form once again. On coming ashore the duo felt they were "like a fish in water" in the newer, wavier conditions.
Three races are left in the regatta, with two to be sailed tomorrow when the Gold fleet again share the Alpha course with the women's gold fleet.
Sofia BEKATOROU and Emilia TSOULFA (GRE) are well on their way to claiming a record fourth World Championship title here in Cadiz. With no result lower than fourth, and counting five race wins and two seconds, they look set to add this title to an already impressive list of accolades that include more recently a victory at the Athens Regatta 2003, winning the 2002 ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Award, and just last month, nomination for the 2003 Sportswomen of the year Award. They got to grips with the change in conditions today quickly, winning the first race and finishing fourth in the second.
All in all, they now have a staggering 22 point lead over second placed Lisa WESTERHOF and Margriet MATTHIJSSE (NED) and Jenny ARMSTRONG and Belinda STOWELL (AUS), who are both on 31 points and can only be split on a third place countback, very close. Lisa and Margriet in fact replicated the Greek girls' scoreline, just to let them know that the pack is chasing hard.
Racing all day was again close, Jenny ARMSTRONG highlighted why this is, " all top teams are very consistent players. Playing on these waves is great. You can gain or lose in one wave which means you have to keep your eyes on them just because you can catch a wave and surf down it, that's what makes the sailing so good here.
She went on to explain that their return to form today had much to do with their legacy"today's conditions are more like what we're used to at home"
In third place going into today's racing, Christina BASSADONE and Katherine HOPSON (GBR) didn't have a day to remember today, and drop to fifth overall having to count a 21 in the first race due to scoring an OCS earlier in the regatta. " We didn't have a very good start and had some problems to get acquainted with the conditions. Normally we're strong downwind, but today we couldn't manage to catch up with the fleet. The second race was a reflection of the experiences we had in the first race, giving us a lot better race to end up 5th.
Racing continues tomorrow, a day that could well see another World Championship decided with a race to spare.
Multihull Open - Tornado
© Event MediaWith eight races now completed in the multihull open event, it is the British pairing of Leigh MCMILLAN (GBR) and Mark BULKELEY who continue to dominate the Tornado fleet, with a six point margin over the defending World Champions, Darren BUNDOCK (AUS) and John FORBES.
Nice north westerly wind conditions were waiting for the Tornado fleet today, with race 7 enjoying 14 knots. The British led off the start, but but Bundock and Forbes took the front position on the second downwind leg and won the race followed by the British. The Spanish team of Fernando ECHAVARRI and Anton PAZ had their first good race since winning the Spanish Championship and finished third.
Today's conditions showed the Tornado at is best, absolutely powering through the course at speed. Sailing a windward/leeward course, the distance between the marks is approximately 1.7 miles, a distance these speed machines were covering on the downwind leg in about seven minutes.
Conditions which tested the sailors to the limit with good winds and a swell, leading to eleven crews preferring not to sail.
In third place are two Olympians, who have been enticed to the Tornado from other classes. Santiago LANGE (ARG) was at the 1996 and 2000 Olympics in the single-handed dinghy open, whilst his crew Carlos ESPINOLA has come from the windsurfing event in which he won a Silver medal in each of the 1996 and 2000 Olympics.
Whilst the end of the regatta is another three races down the line, the current performance of Leigh and Mark ranks amongst one of the top British performances in the Tornado class. However, as we all know too well anything can happen, and this pairing commented, "We take each race as it comes. We try not to think about it too much in advance and just get on with the racing." It is surprising to note that Great Britain hasn't yet qualified for the 2004 Olympic Regatta, so perhaps Wednesday will see a double - qualification and a World title.
Behind the top three, the chasing fleet is very much grouped on points. In places four, five and six, there is only a 2 point margin, then a further two boats, and then the next four. At this stage, the medal game is really over for those in positions from ninth onwards, and for those countries not yet qualified, their sailors will be hoping to maintain a performance to claim one of seven Olympic qualification slots.
The wind increased to 15-17 knots for race 8 and the French team of Yann GUICHARD and Christophe ESPAGNON were back at the top after a couple of difficult races and not so good results. They took the gun, followed by Martin STRANDBERG (SWE) and Kristian MATTSSON who whilst second on the water had been over the line at the start so scored OCS points. This saw Argentineans Santiago LANGE and Carlos ESPINOLA take the second place.
Interestingly in both races today, the leading British and Australian crews finished one place apart in each race. ' The close finish positions were a complete coincidence. We didn't even cross each other during the race ', said Leigh Mcmillan.
The top performance that Leigh and Bulkeley are having is a result of hard work, as confirmed by Bulkely, "'We knew that this event was not going to be an easy one and so we practiced a lot to be ready for it. We are happy with the results of our commitment."
Tomorrow a further two races are scheduled, with the final on Wednesday.
© Event MediaHigh-performance Dinghy Open - 49er
Great Britain's Chris DRAPER and Simon HISCOCKS have thrown down the gauntlet to the other teams gathered for the 49er World Championships in Cadiz, after another superb performance equally superb conditions.
Asked how he did today, Draper replied in his usual modest and understated way: ""We did alright." It took another Brit, Pete GREENHALGH, to put Draper and Hiscocks' dominance into perspective. "They were just smoking," he said. For those not familiar with skiffy parlance, 'smoking' refers to their awesome speed through the water, nothing to do with cigarettes.
If a score of 2,6,1 on the first day of Gold Fleet finals was just "alright", heaven help the other crews if they have a good day. They now hold a lead of 24 points over the Norwegians Christoffer SUNDBY and Frode BOVIM, who got back into second place overall despite a capsize today. Marcus BAUR (GER) and Max GROY lie just two points further adrift in third, meaning that the trio of British, Norwegian and German training partners now dominate the podium positions once more.
Christophe, brother of the Europe Gold Medallist Siren SUNDBY (NOR), is delighted with their performance, and admitted, "Yes, Siren's gold does give me an incentive."
While the wind blew into the bay at no more than 16 or 17 knots, the size and power of the waves that accompanied the sea breeze was simply awesome. The long wave length meant that the crews could keep their gennakers filling most of the time, although the odd rogue wave did catch some crews out, sending them pitchpoling head over heels into the warm Spanish waters. But a more perfect day for 49er racing it would be hard to imagine.
The birth of his son Kiril two days ago seems to have spurred the Ukraine's Rodion LUKA on with a new resolve, as he and crew George LEONCHUK scored a 5,10,2 to match Baur's overall score of 47 points. The USA's Tim WADLOW and Pete SPAULDING lie fifth after today, despite a capsize in the first race. "It wasn't that hard out there if you had space around you, but when you're in a tight fleet and you have to tack or gybe right away without choice, then it gets hard," explained Wadlow.
Chris NICHOLSON usually loves the rough stuff, but he and crew Gary Boyd were another top team to capsize today. "Messy, very messy," Nicholson smiled wryly as he came ashore. The Aussies dropped seven places to 13th overall. Paul BROTHERTON (GBR) and Mark ASQUITH got involved in a collision with the Italian Sibello brothers at the leeward gate, resulting in Brotherton's carbon tiller extension breaking and forcing him out of the race. He is protesting the Italians in the hope of seeking redress. The incident marred what was otherwise a good day out for Brotherton, who climbed from 11 to 6, but he will have to do something really special in the remaining five races, if he is to reel in Draper in his bid to win British selection for the Olympics.
Four British teams in the top nine places reflects a dominant performance for Team GBR across all the classes at this multiple World Championship. But with only one crew per country admitted to Athens next August, there will be some serious sailing talent that will have to console themselves with watching the Olympics on television next summer..
Draper and Hiscocks © Event MediaSingle-handed Dinghy Open - Laser
For the first time in the regatta the sailors left shore with a 10 knot sea breeze. The gold fleet, which comprised the top 44 sailors after the qualifying series, were scheduled to be first fleet to start. After a postponement and relaying of the start line they didn't start until 12.30 by which time the breeze had filled in to the predicted 15 knots.
In the first gold fleet race a distinct split occurred in the fleet on the first windward leg with two of the top four sailing in either direction. Series leader Gustavo Lima (POR) and Andrew Murdoch (NZL) were in the group favouring the left hand side of the beat while six times world champion, Robert Scheidt (BRA), and Michael Blackburn (AUS) sailed to the right.
At the first mark the right hand side prevailed with Blackburn rounding in first position closely followed by Ed Wright (GBR) and Gareth Blanckenberg (RSA). With the high standard of the fleet the entire pack rounded within 40 seconds of each other after a 1 mile leg taking 19 minutes.
Racing a single loop course Blanckenberg and Blackburn rounded the gate simultaneously with Blanckenberg rounding the starboard mark and Blackburn the port. Although racing remained close the South African held a narrow lead at the top of the beat. On the downwind legs Blanckenberg extended his lead to eventually cross the line 38sec ahead of Blackburn with James Howard (GBR) finishing third. Defending champion Robert Scheidt finished sixth and series leader Gustavo Lima eighth.
Race winner Blanckenberg, when asked where he thought he won the race, said 'With the building seas and breeze there were big gains to be made if you got a couple of waves right.'
The second race again saw a difference of opinion about which was the right side of the course to sail with the fleet spread all the way across the course. However in the end clean air and boat speed was the key as leaders at the top mark were Mark Mendelblatt (USA) who had worked the left side and Gustav Carlsson (SWE) who had been on the right side.
On the down wind Carlsson showed good speed to take over the lead. Lima had worked his way through to second whilst Mendelblatt had dropped back to 10th. On the second beat positions remained fairly static with the exception of Scheidt and Blanckenberg (RSA) who moved through the fleet to gain third and fourth places respectively.
Carlsson rounded the second windward mark with a 20 second lead over Lima. However this was to prove not enough as Lima passed him on the downwind leg as they approached the bottom mark. On the short reach to the finish Lima held his lead for a narrow victory.
After the first two races of the finals Lima has extended his lead to 6 points over Scheidt because Lima discards his eighth place today. The bronze medallist from Sydney, Blackburn, who was placed third overnight lost some points ground to the leaders after only managing a tenth in the second race to score 12 points for the day, but remains in third overall. He was quite relieved at his finishing position, as he had rounded the first mark well into the twenties.