After strong winds caused racing to be cancelled yesterday, it was action packed day three in Yeppoon, with four races squeezed in to bring the series total to five. After a bullet on the opening day, and two more wins and two second places today, Australian Tornado world #1 crew BUNDOCK and ASHBY hold a four point overall lead.
After fifth followed by two bullets and a second place puts BOOTH and NIEUWENHIS second overall. The Australia and Dutch teams have already opened a massive 20 point gap on their rivals, with the early indicators pointing to a two-horse race for the World title.
BOOTH said, 'We had some problems in the first race today. We broke a line and we could not pull any downhaul, then we had some traveller dramas.
'No problems in next three races, two wins and a second. We enjoy these conditions. We are heavier than Darren and Glenn, so we can drive through the seastate. If it lightens off they will have more of an advantage.'
At the start of race 2 of the series today, being sailed in the waters off Rydges Capricorn Resort in Yeppoon Queensland, the wind was blowing at 16 knots.
BUNDOCK and ASHBY led from the start and continued to hold the lead, rounding the top mark in first from Mischa HEEMSKERK and Cristopher RASLEY (NED) with BREWIN and WILLIAMS in third. Fernando ECHAVARRI and Anton PAZ (ESP) were in fourth, followed by the French pairing of Billy BESSON and Arnaud JARLEGAN.
At the bottom mark, BUNDOCK and ASHBY went right and most of the fleet followed. Around the mark the Spanish team had crept up to third, with the Carolijn BROUWER and Jeroen VAN LEEUWEN (BEL) in fourth. BOOTH and NIEUWENHIS were fifth, and it looked like they had suffered some gear failure.
Race 3 got underway shortly after the finish of race 2, organisers opting for 'back to back races'. BOOTH and NIEUWENHIS led into the first mark, from Jean-Christophe MOURNIAC and Franck CITEAU (FRA) with BUNDOCK and ASHBY third. Then came ECHAVARRI and PAZ, with Matthieu SOUBEN and Gurvan BONTEMPS (FRA) fifth.
BOOTH and NIEUWENHIS held onto their lead to finish first, followed by BUNDOCK and ASHBY, then HEEMSKERK and RASLEY with Hugh STYLES and Tom PEEL (GBR) fourth. ECHAVARRI and PAZ were fifth, with BROUWER and VAN LEEUWEN sixth.
Racing was certainly fast and furious with a collision 400 metres from the first top mark, between Luke YEATES and Mark ANGELL, (GBR) who came ashore and Natalie and Grant ROGERS (AUS) who sank and then dragged the boat along the seabed and back to the beach. There will be a protest hearing later today.
Race 4 began and at the second mark, BOOTH and NIEUWENHIS led from ECHAVARRI and PAZ with BUNDOCK and ASHBY third. MOURNIAC and CITEAU were fourth with BESSON and JARLEGAN fifth. HEEMSKERK and RASLEY were sixth and BREWIN and WILLIAMS seventh.
At the third mark, it was BOOTH and NIEUWENHIS showing their preference for heavy weather sailing, from BUNDOCK and ASHBY, followed by MOURNIAC and CITEAU, ECHAVARRI and PAZ, BESSON and JARLEGAN, then HEEMSKERK and RASLEY.
The fleet was finally away for the fourth race of the day. Three-quarters of the fleet went left, in 18-22 knots.
At the top mark for the first time, Mark LARUFFA with crew Ricky HEASMAN (AUS) was leading, with Greg and Brett GOODALL (AUS) second, ahead of BOOTH and NIEUWENHIS. The pack was close with the red and white Nissan hull of the series leaders BUNDOCK and ASHBY behind a tight pack.
At the bottom mark the first time, the fleet was already stringing out. BUNDOCK and ASHBY were just ahead of STYLES and PEEL, with BESSON and JARLEGAN third ahead of BOOTH, followed by BREWIN and then LARUFFA. ECHAVARRI was back in tenth place.
BUNDOCK and ASHBY took the race from BOOTH and NIEUWENHIS, ten seconds back. Then came BROUWER and VAN LEEUWEN in third, a further three seconds back. Then Brewin and Williams, Besson and Arnaud with Styles and Peel next.