A cold front barrelled in to Qingdao at 08:15 this morning and brought a little rain and wind, but the rain didn't last for long. The wind held for the 49ers that started an hour earlier than the rest of the classes resulting in an express elevator ride up the weather legs with the current pushing the competitors up the beat.
Once they turned the corner to head downwind it looked as if they were stopped between two floors. Anyone good at painting downwind scenes would have had plenty of time to finish canvases for each class.
Nathan OUTTERIDGE and Ben AUSTIN's (AUS) black spinnaker coasted to the finish line of the first race with a 200 yard lead over Morgan LARSON and Pete SPAULDING (USA). Portugal's Francisco ANDRADE stayed seated in the bow while Jorge LIMA steered their boat to a third place finish.
The 49ers were on the Course A, the course closest to the venue, and sailed within close viewing range of the spectators on the breakwater during their upwind legs. The regatta leaders going into the day, Iker MARTINEZ and Xabier FERNANDEZ (ESP) did a horizon job on the rest of the fleet during the second race. Their eight place finish in the third race of the day was enough to keep them in a comfortable lead over the US team. LARSON and SPAULDING sailed a very consistent 2,5,3 today and sailed into second place for the regatta.
The US team seemed to have good data points and had analyzed today's wind and water conditions better than most before heading out to the water. In the Laser Radial class, Anna TUNNICLIFFE (USA) posted a 1,3 for the day and move within two points of Tania ELIAS CALLES (MEX). Jo ALEH (NZL) sailed a 3,1 in today's races to pull ahead of Evi VAN ACKER (BEL) whose two eighth place finishes turned out to be enough to keep her firmly in second place, nine points in front of ELIAS CALLES.
After a brilliant start to the regatta on Thursday, VAN ACKER was less than impressed with her day's performance, 'I had two very average starts, so I'm not very happy,' she said. 'I lost a lot of places on the downwind today, which should be my strongest point, so I feel very bad. I am very disappointed to lose my yellow dot, so I will focus more for tomorrow's game. I will concentrate on my start and be good on the top mark to get an advantage.'
Eager to start and with help from the current, the Lasers had a general recall or two. Paul GOODISON (GBR) stayed on top of the leaderboard by sailing a 1,10. Andrew MURDOCH (NZL) was close on GOODISON's tail throughout the first race and was fourth in a close finish among a small pack of boats in the second race. Rasmus MYRGREN (SWE), Evangelos CHIMONAS (GRE) and Brad FUNK (USA) and Andrew LEWIS (TRI) sailed a good race and a mid-fleet race, proving how challenging these conditions are.
Out on Course E, the Stars and the Tornados waited for racing conditions for longer than the other classes and only sailed one race. Roman HAGARA and Hans Peter STEINACHER (AUT), the pride of their country, got the bullet in the Tornado race. HAGARA had a substantial lead on the Aussies, Darren BUNDOCK and Glenn ASHBY (AUS). The two boats had quite a jump on the rest of the fleet in heading home for the day after one race.
Despite building an impressive lead early on, HAGARA was not playing down the difficulty of the conditions today. 'It was hard at the starting line because the wave was shifty and we had to wait for the race committee's permission. At the beginning, I went to left, kept the lead and went all the way,' he said.
If he qualifies for the Olympic Games, Flavio MARAZZI (SUI) may have the secrete weapon that everybody else will envy. In his Star keelboat, designed just for these conditions, MARAZZI and his crew, Christen CHRISTOPH have won two races in this regatta. While he beat 2006 Star World Champions Hamish PEPPER and Carl WILLIAMS (NZL) by less than a minute, and there was a huge gap between them and a close pack of three boats from Germany, France and Ireland. Switzerland now has a one point lead over the ever consistent French.
It's turning into a three-boat regatta in the Women's RS:X with an occasional guest appearance by others into the top three. Bryony SHAW (GBR) and Faustine MERRET (FRA) traded firsts and third place finishes today and are now in first and second with seven and nine points respectively. Jian YIN (CHN) is three points behind MERRET, but a comfortable distance ahead of Alessandra SENSINI (ITA).
China's 1.3 billion citizens will sound a collective cheer that will travel across oceans and continents because ZHOU was able to seize the lead near the leeward mark of the trapezoid course and hold onto it to get the gun in both Men's RS:X races. Tom ASHLEY (NZL) and Piotr MYSZKA (POL) pressed hard and challenged him and each posted a second place finish to their scores for the series. ASHLEY is only one point behind ZHOU and the two are sailing a regatta of their own at this point.
ASHLEY was surprisingly off the pace at the recent ISAF Sailing World Championships in Cascais, although his training schedule has been focussed on preparing for Qingdao, 'For the past year I've been trying to specialize in these conditions,' revealed ASHLEY. 'I found close conditions like these but nothing's exactly like the conditions here in Qingdao.'
It's very tight at the 470 fleets, with the leaders in both holding just a single-point in advantage. Nathan WILMOT and Malcolm PAGE's (AUS) two bullets and strong finishes place them in the lead with 21 points. Gidi KLIGER and Udi GAL (ISR) are in second and Nick ROGERS and Joe GLANFIELD (GBR) are in third. During the second race, WILMOT and PAGE made their move on the reach and kept it during the remaining legs of the course. The Luck of the Irish shone down on Gerald OWENS and Philip LAWTON (IRL). They got off the line well and extended their lead to more than a minute toward the end of the race.
In the women's fleet, Ruslana TARAN and Olena PAKHOLCHYK (UKR) worked hard to maintain their narrow lead on the run and overcame some confusion at the end of the first race to narrowly beat Christina BASSADONE and Saskia CLARK (GBR) in the first race. Elsie RECHICHI and Tessa PARKINSON (AUS) had another stellar day. Their 3,1 was the best two-race score for the day, but Ai KONDO and Naoko KAMATA (JPN) moved ahead of them in the regatta because they are able to discard a ninth place finish compared to the Aussie's worst race, an eighth.
Ben AINSLIE (GBR) dominated today's Finn racing and had the largest horizon job of the day. He did just what every sailor is supposed to do. He led off the start and extended his lead. He was refuelled and ready to go in the 3:27 seconds it took for Zach RAILEY (USA) to cross the line in second place. The second race was a lot closer with the top four boats finishing within 30 seconds of one another; this time Peer MOBERG (NOR) took the gun with AINSLIE in second place. Ivan KLJAKOVIC GASPIC (CRO) sits ten points behind AINSLIE and Jonas HOEGH-CHRISTENSEN (DEN) is in third with 21 points.
Great Britain also hold the lead in the Yngling fleet. They are now tied in points, but Sarah AYTON, Sarah WEBB and Pippa WILSON (GBR), with two first place finishes (one of them earned today) are sitting in first place. Sally BARKOW, Carrie HOWE and Debbie CAPOZZI (USA) are in second. As an indication of how tight the competition is between these two teams is, less than one minute separated them over today's two races. No one dominated today's racing. The Brits and the Americans are just four points ahead of Ekaterina SKUDINA, Diana KRUTSKIKH and Natalia IVANOVA (RUS).