The opening three days of racing have provided plenty of tough and competitive racing at the Laser SB3 World Championship in Cascais, Portugal.
Craig Burlton maintains his lead tonight, and has reinstated his margin of four points over Roger Hudson and the Spirit of Cape Town crew.
Race winners today included Roger Hudson and Taariq Jacobs, Rob Gullan and David Hudson. Catching up with them as they came ashore, they all had plenty to report after what has clearly been a really challenging day in terms of the competitive fleet and shifting wind.
Roger Hudson (son of David Hudson) is trimming main and calling tactics for Taariq Jacobs on board Spirit of Cape Town. "Race one today was full of wind shifts and we spent the whole of the first beat reading them and tacking accordingly." It was an extremely tactical race that Roger described on the dock this evening. Having rounded the windward mark in first position, they didn't look back and managed to extend their lead on the first downwind leg and managed to seal a victory with a comfortable lead, "Although we were only too aware that Craig [Burlton] was chasing us and catching up fast; he has an amazing ability to work his way through a fleet of boats without careless errors." Spirit of Cape Town are aiming for consistent results in the remaining five races and will be looking to improve their tactics to maintain their dominance at the top of the fleet.
Race two saw Robert Gullan back on form. Having won race five in the Championship, Gullan worked his way to the front of the fleet again today. Sun Microsystems have not been a regular feature on the SB3 circuit for some time but with a newly formed team, Pieter Heyn's boat (a previous Cowes Week winner) is clearly stacked with talent. Ben Ainsworth and Maria Stanley are working the bow, Pieter trimming the main and Robert helming, is proving to be a lightening combination. It would not be unfair to say that this team comes without SB3 pedigree making their overall position of fifth extremely impressive. Having won the pin in the start of the second race they were the first boat to tack onto port and spent the race working the shifts in the breeze upwind and holding onto their position in the downwind legs. Gullan added, "We've sailed a conservative Championship, but now we are going to change mode and start attacking the leaders".
David Hudson (father of Roger Hudson) added a 3, 9, 1 to his results tally today. Race one saw a photo finish with Craig Burlton, which Craig won, "We had to ask the race committee for confirmation of our finishing order we had been so close, there can't have been more than one metre in it. It really shows how tight the racing is at the top of the fleet." Race two City of Cape Town started well, but by the first windward mark were well down the pack and did well to recover to ninth position. By all accounts, race three was text book perfect and after establishing a reasonable lead, City of Cape Town lead the fleet over the finish line and home. A great day's racing for David.
Chatting to Craig Burlton as he came ashore, I quizzed him on the spectacularly consistent performance that the team has put in over the first three days of this Championship. "After all these years of sailing, we still can't start" joked Burlton on the dock, "On a more serious note, today really has been the toughest day's sailing of my life." Burlton leads the Championship by four points, but with five races still to be sailed, there is still a lot of pressure on Gill Race Team who are sailing well as a crew although Craig added that "Adam [Heeley] has been sat on the naughty step this afternoon!" Steve 'AB' White has been calling tactics and reading the wind shifts, of which there are plenty, with great skill. All in all Gill Race Team are thoroughly enjoying their Championship; they are well aware that Roger Hudson and Taariq Jacobs are hot on their heels and are yet to post a first to the results sheet.
The top Italian boat is helmed by Roberto Caresani and crewed by Pietro Negri and Giulia Conti who recently returns for an extremely successful performance at the 470 World Championships in Denmark. Roberto and Pietro claim that they sail faster when they have a woman onboard, it's their Italian blood you know! Ferdinand Ziegelmayer who is racing with brother Maximillian and father Sebastien are the only all family crew. They are the leading German boat and are enjoying the tight racing for their first time at an international SB3 event and first time racing together as a crew. Ferdinand added, "Today we were fast, unfortunately too fast at the start of the final race as we over the line! Our crew work is improving and we are delighted with the way that the Laser SB3 is performing in these fantastic conditions." Currently in 13th position overall, they are hoping to move into the top 10.
The quality of the racing in Cascais is fantastic. The good teams have adapted quickly to the conditions and there are so many boats pushing really hard for the top 10 and higher. The key appears to be working the shits upwind and plenty of gybes downwind to stay in the breeze, which is quite a different approach to stand Solent downwind sailing.
Three more races are scheduled for Thursday when the second discard will come into action. Watch this space!
Results - click here