Whilst the fleet sailors around the lake were stuck ashore, down in Rust the second round robin of the team racing event continued in the tricky conditions, with an unstable, shifty wind giving the teams plenty to think about.
GBR 2 yesterday wrapped up victory in the opening round robin and continued their good form into today. Team member Matt FINDLAY revealed the secret of their success so far, saying, 'I think it is just that we talk about the race a lot, before we get on the water. Unfortunately, we did not get a chance to practise, but, I guess, it works!'
The Czech Republic team have been the surprise package of the event so far, holding third place at the end of the opening round robin. Petr FIALA (CZE) revealed, 'It is a question of having good luck. There are a few shallows in the racing area and that is very tricky. Once we were on a very good position and suddenly the boat slowed down...and we lost. But this can happen to anyone.'
The team racing continues in Rust this week, before the racing move to Neusiedl next week for the final series.
World Ranked number one crew in the Yngling, Sharon FERRIS and Ashley HOLTUM have made a somewhat surprising appearance here on Lake Neusiedl in the Hobie 16 fleet - a big difference from the three-person keelboat they are normally sailing for their Olympic Campaign. After four races, the pair appear to still be finding their feet in the Hobie 16 multihull, scoring Did Not Finish (DNF) in races one and two, followed by 5,9 in yesterday's races three and four, to place them 13 overall in the 19 boat fleet.
However, they did not seem too bothered by their opening performance on day one, caused by multiple capsizes as they struggled to control the boat in the breezy conditions. This is only their sixth time in the Hobie 16, and before the Games their objective was 'not to capsize'. They are intent on having fun and not taking themselves too seriously. FERRIS commented, 'Our stay here is like a holiday, we do not have to worry about anything: no equipment, no problems with material, all we needed to bring was own sailing clothes.'
|Sharon FERRIS and crew in
© Getty Images
Commenting on the unique lake conditions, FERRIS added, 'We are having some difficulty detecting the gusts, as the murky colour of the water makes them difficult to spot.'
The pair is fortunate as the Hobie 16 will race a single series, followed by the final Medal Race, so at this early stage there is no pressure to make a qualifying series cut.
From Lake Neusiedl, they will immediately jump back into the Yngling and head north for the ISAF Grade 1 Holland Regatta, 24-28 May. Their aim in Holland is to deliver some results said FERRIS so we can 'maintain our world ranking.'
Although the fleets went out in the morning, what wind there was dropped away and the sailors took the opportunity to relax in the brilliant sunshine that has engulfed Neusiedl for the opening three days of the event. Whilst everyone was eager for the wind to pick up and the action to get underway, the day also allowed timed for reflection on the two days' of racing so far.
The main story of the opening exchanges has been the exceptional Australian performances across the fleets, with the Aussies currently holding five of the top ten number one spots. However for Australia's 470 World Champions Nathan WILMOT and Malcolm PAGE, the first two days have not gone entirely to plan, with team mates Matt BELCHER and Nick BEHRENS (AUS) grabbing the early limelight. WILMOT and PAGE have taken a step back from the circuit following a disappointing Olympic performance in Athens, there only notable performances being their win at the Worlds and a win earlier in the year at the ISAF Grade 1 Sail Melbourne, where they beat BELCHER and BEHRENS in the Medal Race.
|Nathan WILMOT and Malcolm
PAGE in action yesterday
© David BELL
However the pair are now on their way back, starting training three weeks ago and with a three month stay in Europe planned, of which Austria is the first stop. Following the World Sailing Games they head to Hamburg, Germany to pick up a new boat. First though is the supplied equipment battle in Austria, an interesting test for the two Aussie 470 crews. Where it not for BELCHER and BEHRENS blitzing the competition at the front of the fleet, WILMOT and PAGE's start to the event would perhaps be looking more favourable. Scores of 1,8,20,2 leave them ninth overall, with the World Champions blaming their third race blip on a bad boat. However, the aim of this week is to qualify for the gold fleet and the final series next week, where they will be joined by the sailors invited from the top of the ISAF World Sailing Rankings. And WILMOT and PAGE are certainly not phased by the success of their team mates, with PAGE noting with a smile in his eyes that they have a perfect record against their fellow countrymen.
Israel's Yuval BOTZER is competing in Austria in the Laser for the first time, having chosen to make the switch from the 470. He trains at Tel Aviv and Haifa and also out on Lake Galilee, and is in Austria thanks to support from the Israel Yachting Association. He has had a remarkably consistent start to the event, with four identical scores of 28. Three places ahead of BOTZER in 56 is Bulgaria's Valentin NEDYALKOV, who cited the unpredictable wind shifts and the particularly short and steep waves typical of Lake Neusiedl for his disappointing performance so far. Although he hails from Bulgaria, NEDYALKOV lives and trains in Great Britain, along with British Laser sailors and fellow competitors here James GRAY and Mark POWELL. So far GRAY has been the pick of the three, scoring finishes of 13,10,13,10 to lie 20th overall.
The 470s offer perhaps the most fascinating competition in Austria, with the tweaking and customising of the boats - which is such a feature of top level competition in the class - not available to the crews. Success in Austria is really all down to sailor skill, and this is where not just the overall results, but the battles within nations become so fascinating. In the World Sailing Games four years ago in Marseille, France, Argentina's Lucas CALABRESE and Fernando GWOZDZ finished above their better known and Olympic bronze medal winning team mates Javier CONTE and Juan DE LA FUENTE. Now CONTE and DE LA FUENTE have an ISAF World Sailing Ranking of 8 and are currently lying in second place in Austria, whilst CALABRESE and GWOZDZ are down at 77 in the Rankings, but lie twelfth overall. They are particular keen on the setup at the World Sailing Games, with the supplied equipment especially giving them a chance to shine on one of their infrequent trips to Europe.
Racing continues on Lake Neusiedl tomorrow, with a light start forecast, but the wind should pick up in the afternoon.
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