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13 December 2005, 11:04 am
Weather Plays Havoc With Leaders
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Sail Brisbane 2005
Brisbane, Australia

It is a well know fact that no one can really place a definite fix on what to expect in the Brisbane weather pattern when the summer heats up. The general storm season adds to this confusion and when a strong wind warning was issued for Moreton Bay waters today every one was expecting some real grunt in the breeze.
But not unlike many similar forecasts before the breeze never reached the forecast velocity in fact it was a soft, fluffy and unstable offering fluky wind for what was promising to be a great day of tactical racing in a moderate to fresh breeze for the class Championships.

In fact winds from the north west at 30 knots became a pipe dream as a stronger influence from the south produced a late afternoon thunder storm with tennis ball size hail leaving a soft win void on Waterloo Bay.

Unfortunately what was promised as a great sailing breeze turned into a lottery with some big names who take pride in their tactical ability having to face the torment of being dumped on the wrong side of the unpredictable wind direction changes?

The former 420 World Champion Mathew BELCHER and crew mate Nick BEHRENS (AUS) were the only class leaders to weather the fickle wind with their reputations unscathed.

Both BELCHER and Behrens enter the final day of the regatta with a commanding 16 point lead in the 470, while Brendan CASEY (AUS) may have to rely on the result of a protest to win the highly competitive Laser title ahead of Tom SLINGSBY (AUS) and the talented New Zealander Michael BULLOT.

CASEY was in command with a three point lead at the end of day two, but the never say die SLINGSBY has bridged the gap to set up a match race for the prestigious Ronstan trophy on the final day.

Perhaps the most significant personal tactical performance rests with the teenage Noosa River skipper Klade HAUSCHILDT who is in a strong position to win his first major championship medal as the best Laser 4.7 skipper.

In other classes Nathan OUTTERIDGE continued his charge to winning gold in the 49er while the Gold Coast father and son 29er racing combination of Phil and James KELLOND KNIGHT are poised to win their class with a perfect score.

Hopefully the electrical storm which inflicted heavy damage to property to the south of the race course is a clear sign that the fleet could experience a true 15-18 knot south east breeze which would be an ideal wind to sort the players from the stayers as they duel for the Ronstan Sail Brisbane class championship honours on Waterloo Bay tomorrow.

Ian Grant (As Amended By ISAF)
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