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23 September 2002, 04:19 pm
A Game of Snakes and Ladders for the Practice Race.
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Downwind Action

Soling World Championship
Marblehead

The practice race started at 2.30 yesterday afternoon with an apparently nice 6-8 knot sea breeze. The first start was individually recalled, however, most of the fleet continued into the race, not returning to restart.
Many of the favourites for the event broke off to the right thinking that the afternoon sea breeze would veer further, however, this was the last of the wind's orderly behavior for the day. It died and then began to back, and those who had held left, led by Dave Crysdale (USA), were coming into the weather mark far ahead, until those who remained out on the right picked up some stronger air - and crossed all but Crysdale, who led at the windward mark.

On the first run the leaders sailed perpendicular to the course to get back into the strong air off to the right, but another large group led by Dave Curtis (USA) held out to the other side of the course, and looked to be far ahead, until the leaders to the west reached their breeze again and sailed past! Jim Medley (USA) led around the leeward mark and for the rest of the race, unfortunately being judged OCS at the start.

From that moment on there was two sea breezes, periodically the ocean sea breeze from 200'-220' which had been on the horizon to the left and every so often invaded the course, and the local sea breeze from 160-180' in which the race had started and which periodically reappeared. Sometimes there were gusts to 12 knots and periodially there was near dead calm - and ever a chance to gain and an even bigger chance to lose. What more could a sailor ask for!!

Racing for the 26 boat champion fleet starts today and continues until Sunday.
Stu Walker/ISAF News Editor
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