Low clouds hung over the headlands and extended as far as the eye could see over the water. A small swell and 8-10 knots of breeze - that picked up to the point that it whistled through the halyards of some of the spectator boats - prevailed throughout the day. According to Alfonso DOMINGOS (POR), world #8 in the Star and a Cascais native, 'The wind conditions that we saw today were normal given today's cloud conditions.'
The Tornado and the Star (racing in blue and yellow fleets) both completed their opening two races as scheduled. The northwesterly breeze was slight stronger and steadier on race area 5 where the Stars were competing, but more shifty and lighter for the Tornados close to the shore.
The Star racing was dominated by the established names in the class. 2005 World Champions Xavier ROHART and Pascal RAMBEAU (FRA) and 2006 World Champions Hamish PEPPER and Carl WILLIAMS (NZL) share the lead with identical 3,1 score lines. In contrast the Tornado fleet threw out some big surprises, not least the 19,19 score line from reigning World Champions and world #1 crew Darren BUNDOCK and Glenn ASHBY (AUS).
Working with a 30 boat fleet and a shorter course than is usually sailed, PEPPER and WILLIAMS, ROHART and RAMBEAU, and Iain PERCY and Andrew SIMPSON (GBR), were able to pull off impressive starts, round the first weather mark in first place and extend their leads so that they finished with a notable gap behind them. Unlike the high-scoring Tornado fleet, each of the top ten teams in the Star has only single digit finishes.
While many of the teams have been featuring prominently on the ISAF Graded circuit, a number of the crews in Cascais, including the Kiwis and the Brits, are lining up after limited training and racing together because one or the other or both have been involved in America's Cup campaigns. Always trying to perform their best among such talented competition, many skippers and crews dispensed with national alliances and practiced for the Worlds with other Star skippers or crews who were waiting for their team mate's fate to be determined in Valencia.
|Hamish PEPPER and Carl WILLIAMS tie for the lead at the
end of day one
© FRIED ELLIOTT/www.friedbits.com
Left or right? That was the big question of the day for the Tornado fleet, competing in shifty and challenging conditions in race area 4.
The right hand side of the course was favoured in race 1, with German young guns Tino MITTELMEIER and Niko MITTELMEIER maximizing on a good early decision. 'We like the light conditions and didn't make any mistake on the first race despite the very shifty conditions,' explained Tino. However they were less fortunate in race 2, this time choosing the wrong side and finishing back in 22nd.
In a slight stronger breeze around 10 knots for race 2, John LOVELL and Charlie OGLETREE (USA), Olivier BACKES and Paul-Ambroise SEVESTRE (FRA) and Johannes POLGAR and Florian SPALTEHOLZ (GER) were the top three boats from start to finish.
The shifty conditions allowed LANGE to demonstrate the wind spotting ability he has refined at the top of the Victory Challenge mast in Valencia. After minimal racing in the Tornado since Athens, LANGE and ESPINOLA came back in great style to finish in fourth and fifth today.
'It was not an easy day; very shifty and difficult but we got it right. It was a very busy week putting it all together and I am very happy to be sailing back on a Tornado with Carlos,' said LANGE.
BROUWER, delighted to be third overall, summed up the key to a good score today, 'It was important to have sailed consistently today. We did the right calls for the pressures and had good speed.'
Tomorrow, there is more action in the Tornado and Star fleets and the single-handed Laser and Laser Radials also kick off their series.
'I can't wait to get started,' Paul GOODISON (GBR), Laser world #1, enthused. 'This regatta's been a long time coming.'
Over 1,300 sailors from 76 nations are competing at the 2007 ISAF Sailing World Championships, from 28 June-13 July in Cascais, Portugal. 'The Wind Is Calling' is the official motto for the 2007 Worlds. The Championships are the principal qualification regatta for the 2008 Olympic Sailing Competition, with 75% of all national places to be decided.
All Media wishing to attend the Championships will require accreditation. On-site accreditations only will be available after 31 May.
For all the news on the ISAF Sailing World Championships 2007 CLICK HERE.