Light winds persisted and as the afternoon faded, the current changed directions so that it ran in the same direction as the wind. Except for the RS:X fleets, at least one race was held for each class. Many of the racers watched a dark cloud build over the shore and the city lights turn on while they sailed their final legs of the day. When they arrived back at the marina, the moon was the brightest object in the sky. It was a long day for all.
In such testing conditions, any flaws in technique are being heavily punished as the main proportion of the fleets remain tightly bunched together. Australia's Elsie RECHICHI, leading in the 470 Women, summed it up, 'In events like this, tiny mistakes can be very costly. We had a few minor mistakes today, and a few tough tacks, which made for big losses. We are hoping to do better tomorrow, but it's a tough race.'
The 49ers got racing underway today just after 15:30. At the end of the day Peter HANSEN and Soren HANSEN (DEN) jumped from fourth to first on the 49er leaderboard after three very tricky races. World Champions Stevie MORRISON and Ben RHODES (GBR) were by far the most consistent team of the day and they tie the Danes on 42 points.
The HANSEN brothers had their best start of the series so far, led at the top mark and gradually pulled out their advantage as the breeze died to take the gun. Next up it was the turn of MORRISON and RHODES to lead from the front, with the Brits pulling out a big lead in a more stable but fractionally light breeze to score their first bullet of the series. Pietro SIBELLO and Gianfranco SIBELLO (ITA) had made good gains on the right in the previous race and after a getting a flier off the line again picked up on a favourable right shift to pull out a massive lead and take the third race of the day.
Overnight leaders Iker MARTINEZ and Xavi FERNANDEZ (ESP) struggled with 15,9,11 scores today and fall back to fifth overall, although it's still incredibly close at the top of the leaderboard, with the first six crews covered by just eight points.
Ben AINSLIE (GBR) posted his third win of the series in today's single Finn race to move into a six-point overall lead. Ivan KLJAKOVIC GASPIC (CRO) continued to impress in the Qingdao conditions coming in second in today's race to hold on to second overall.
With all firsts and seconds on his scorecard, AINSLIE is looking set to run away with the regatta in exactly the same fashion as he did last year. 'Ben AINSLIE is a machine!' was KLJAKOVIC GASPIC's assessment of his chief rival.
At 15:40, the five minute horn sounded for the Laser Radials. The current was obviously setting the race committee boat against the wind. The fleet set up down at the pin for a clean start. Ayda UNVER (TUR) came out of the shifty first beat in the lead with Gintare VOLUNGEVICIUTE (LTU) in close behind in second. Tina MIHELIC (CRO) clawed her way into first by the bottom mark, traded the lead with VOLUNGEVICIUTE, eventually finishing 16 seconds ahead.
During the second race, a left shift a couple of minutes into the race set Lijia XU (CHN) and Anna TUNNICLIFFE (USA) up for a battle to be the first to round the weather mark. Evi VAN ACKER (BEL) played the middle right side of the course at the top of the beat. A pack of boats set up on the starboard layline while those who played the left struggled to reach the mark. Their efforts were made worse because they were covered by those already on the reach. TUNNICLIFFE and XU traded off first and second around the remaining marks with TUNNICLIFFE taking the spoils for the second time in the series. Following a discard, Jo ALEH (NZL) retains the lead with her 7, 4 for the day and TUNNICLIFFE sits two points behind with her 6, 1 in today's races. MIHELIC's rock solid 1,3 for the day moved her up two places to third overall.
In the Lasers it was a perfect day for Gustavo LIMA (POR), who had a top five start and went right. He had a comfortable lead going into the weather mark. He fought off Andrew MURDOCH (NZL) and Andreas GERITZER (AUT) on the run and maintained his lead for the rest of the race. He narrowly beat GERITZER during the only race of the day in the Laser class. After a drop, Paul GOODISON (GBR) has the lead with MURDOCH close on his tail. Two points separate third through fifth place in the regatta. LIMA is ten points behind in sixth.
The 470 men rounded their first weather mark at about the same time as the Radials headed downwind during their first race. Most boats ran down the middle of the course with two boats taking fliers to either corner that did not pay off. Gidi KLIGER and Udi GAL (ISR) approached the mark with pressure from the right, executed a picture-perfect gybe, rounded the left gate with a 50-yard advantage and held the lead all the way around the remainder of the course.
The Chinese team of Hechi CHEN and Suhong WANG sprung a surprise by winning the day's second race. A sixth place put KLIGER and GAL into the overall lead. Javier CONTE and Juan DE LA FUENTE (ARG) had a great day with a 4, 2 and move into fourth overall.
Despite holding the overall lead, victory in Qingdao is not the priority for the Israelis. 'Our main purpose in coming to this regatta is not to win, but rather to test everything out,' said KLIGER. 'We are putting a lot of effort into our equipment. We are constantly trying out new rigs making in order to make sure that everything is right for next year.'
In the women's fleet Lenka SMIDOVA and Lenka MRZIKOVA (CZE) had one of the biggest gains of the day on the first leeward leg and came in from the right to round the right gate ahead of Christina BASSADONE and Saskia CLARKE (GBR). There were some nice manoeuvres down the run and positions changed in the top of the fleet as SMIDOVA and MRZILKOVA plummeted from first to fifth. Ingrid PETITJEAN and Nadege DOUROUX (FRA) grabbed the lead on the second to last leg of the course and held on to cross the finish line with a 30-yard lead.
Therese TORGERSSON and Vendela ZACHRISSON (SWE) had gambled on getting a flier in the first race only to go OCS as the current dragged them across the line early. However they finished the day the same way they opened the regatta, by winning, this time nailing the start and leading all of the way around the course. Elsie RECHICHI and Tessa PARKINSON (AUS) still hold the overall lead, but they are tied in points with Ruslana TARAN and Olena PAKHOLCHYK (UKR), who sailed a solid 2,4 for the day. Ai KONDO and Naoko KAMATA's (JPN) two mid-fleet finishes knocked them out of the lead for the regatta.
The Tornado and Star fleets were charging up the outside of the 470 racing area under tow while the 470 were sailing their final run of their first race. As the Stars went off the breeze built with cloud cover over land and clear skies over the water. Most of the Stars went to the right side of the course down the run while the Tornadoes ghosted up the right side of their course in the same racing area: a clear indication that the Stars and the Tornadoes were going to get in one race, at best, before sunset. Mateusz KUSZNIEREWICZ and Dominik ZYCKI (POL) took the low road at the end of the run. Xavier ROHART and Pascal RAMBEAU (FRA) gybed onto port below Hamish PEPPER and Carl WILLIAMS (NZL) to round the right gate while Iain PERCY and Andrew SIMPSON (GBR) and Robert SCHEIDT and Bruno PRADA (BRA) rounded the left gate.
At the end of the final run, PEPPER and WILLIAMS coasted past the Tornadoes leeward mark to towards the finish and took the gun and the overall lead. With a ninth place finish, Flavio MARAZZI and Christoph CHRISTEN (SUI) fell from first to third in the regatta.
In the Tornado fleet, the glue is firmly hardened on Roman HAGARA and Hans Peter STEINACHER's (AUT) sail as they took yet another bullet in today's racing. Getting a good start and extending their lead by getting a puff and a left shift at the second leeward gate. As you would expect from double Olympic gold medallists, their attention to detail is second to none. STEINACHER revealed that the team are using every available opportunity to prepare themselves for the Olympic Sailing Competition next year.
'We try to stay out of the air conditioned buildings as much as possible. We prefer to stay outside but in the shade. It is difficult for our bodies to adjust to the heat and humidity if we have remained in air conditions too long - which can make the race difficult,'
Ekaterina SKUDINA, Diana KRUTSKIKH and Natalia IVANOVA (RUS) won one of the closest races of the Yngling series. Sarah AYTON, Sarah WEBB and Pippa WILSON (GBR) were able to gybe inside and ahead of Sally BARKOW, Carrie HOWE and Debbie CAPOZZI (USA) around the first leeward mark and take the lead. The Charlie flag went up at the leeward mark, and the top four positions remained intact throughout the rest of the race.
With a seventh as their exclude compared to the Americans' fifth place, the Brits can lay claim to sole possession of the lead. The Americans are in second and the Russians are in third. Only 15 points separate fourth through tenth place.
The RS:X fleets waited patiently ashore today but a late start for the 49ers and a dying breeze meant they never got out on the water. Bryony SHAW (GBR) remains at the top of the women's leaderboard, whilst China's Sydney and Athens Olympian Yuan Guo ZHOU leads the men.
Three races are scheduled across all events tomorrow with the first warning signal at 12:00.