Perfect Irish sailing conditions greeted the 120 sailors today in Kinsale, Co. Cork for the penultimate day of the Cork County Council IFDS World Sailing Championships
Disappointingly, this is only the second day on the water for the three classes since Monday due to the unusual lack of wind but the 10 - 12 knots south-westerly lifted spirits this morning when race management announced that were trying for three races per class today.
The 18 boat Sonar fleet were the first to get going with their Race 4 of the regatta. The course was set on 240 degrees with the breeze building to 15 knots for the beginning of the starting sequence at 12 noon. 10-time Irish Paralympian John Twomey and his crew Ian Costello and Anthony Hegarty got off to a good start and were third around the first windward mark. The wind picked up to between 16 and 18 knots but as the fleet approached the leeward gate Jens Koker from Germany had a collision with the Norwegian team helmed by Aleksander Wang-Hansen. The Germans did a 720 penalty turn but unfortunately both their boat and the Norwegian boat had been damaged and they both had to retire from the race. Bruno Jourdren from France was first through the gate followed by Rick Doerr (USA), Udo Hessels (The Netherlands), John Twomey (Ireland), John Robertson (UK), David Barnes (New Zealand). The leaders stayed in the same positions until the end of the race which saw Bruno Jourdren taking his second win of the regatta, maintaining his place at the top of the leader board. Best of the Irish was John Twomey who had now broken in to the top 10 overall in 9th and fellow Corkonian Paul McCarthy lay 10th overall.
All 18 boats got off to a clear start shortly after 13:00 for Race 2 in the Sonar class. Both the Germans and Norwegians were able to make the necessary repairs to their boats for them to sail. The wind had dropped slightly to between 11 and 12 knots and began shifting to the left. Most of the fleet chose the left side as they headed to the weather mark. Bruno Jourdren was first again around the weather mark followed by Paul Tingley (Canada) and Andrew Fisher (USA). By this time the wind had swung 20 degrees to 220 and Race Officer Peter Crowley decided to move the mark for the second leg. As the fleet came through the leeward gate Crowley signalled the course change. Bruno Jourdren was still maintaining his lead position, as was Paul Tingley in second place but Andrew Fisher had dropped back to sixth. Australian Colin Harrison had climbed up the fleet to third followed by John Robertson and Jens Koker. As they approached the line Colin Harrison had moved up and was really putting the pressure on Bruno Jourdren but the French team didn't succumb and crossed the line in pole position for the second time today. The Australians had to settle for second place while Paul Tingley and his team took third. John Twomey from Ireland finished 7th.
Race 6, the third and final race of the day for the Sonar class got off to a tricky start. The recall flag was raised and both the American and German boats returned however the committee boat did not drop the flag and no other boats came back so someone was going to be disappointed later. At the leeward gate it was Udo Hessels who rounded first. He was followed closely by local Providence Team IRL sailor John Twomey who in turn was being followed by John Robertson, Bruno Jourdren, Andrew Fisher and Paul Tingley. As the fleet rounded the weather mark for the last time and headed towards the finished it was neck and neck between the top three. Bruno Jourdren made a comeback and was engulfed in a luffing match with Udo Hessels while John Twomey tried desperately to break through. As they closed in on the line Udo Hessels gybed to starboard and just nipped in ahead of Bruno Jourdren to win with John Twomey finishing in third.
Even with a discard coming in to play after Race 5, the French team helmed by Bruno Jourdren have stormed in to the lead creating an 11 point gap between themselves and Udo Hessels who lies in the silver medal position. In third overall is Australian Colin Harrison. Best of the Irish is local Kinsale man and Providence Team IRL sailor John Twomey along with his crew Ian Costello and Anthony Hegarty who jump five places in one day to 7th overall.
There was a shift in the leader board following Race 3, the first race of the day for the Skud 18 class. Alexandra Rickham and her crew Niki Birrell from the UK had been lying in second place after sailing on Tuesday but a win in Race 3 meant they knocked Italian Marco Gualandris off the top spot while simultaneously claiming their second race win of the championship. Marco and his crew finished second and slip to second overall. No change in the bronze medal position as Canadian John McRoberts finished third holding on to his spot.
Alexandra Rickham strengthened her lead even further in Race 4 as she and her crew once again were first over the line giving herself a two point cushion over the Italian duo who came third. John McRoberts then had closed the gap between by one point as he and his crew finished second but still ultimately leaving the gold, silver and bronze positions without change.
The third race of the day for the Skud 18 class made it even more apparent that this will be a battle solely between Alexandra Rickham, Marco Gualandris and John McRoberts. The three pairings finished in first, second and third respectively and still lie in gold, silver and bronze positions respectively. Alexandra currently has a three point lead over the Italians but it will be all to play for tomorrow.
From the beginning of Race 3 for the 2.4mR class it was clear that Heiko Kroger was going to be the one to beat. He got off to a great start tailed by Barend Kol (The Netherlands) and Tuesday's overall leader Bijlard Guus, also from The Netherlands. Try as they might, nobody could catch him and he crossed the line and winning his first race of the regatta and moving up numerous places to second overall. Bijlard Guus finished in second place and still remains at the top of the leader board with a 10 point lead. Having overtaken Barend Kol, Damien Seguin (France) went on to take third place in the race. Julio Reguero from Puerto Rico finished 9th but still holds on to a medal position in third overall.
Yet again in Race 4 it was Heiko Kroger who proved he was a force to be reckoned with in the largest of the fleets, the 45 boat 2.4mR class. The German improved considerably from Tuesday's performance to take his second consecutive win of the day. The UK's London 2012 Paralympic Gold medallist Helena Lucas came second but following a string of mixed results only moves up to 8th overall. Finishing third and now lying third overall is Australian Matt Bugg.
During Race 5 Helena Lucas continued to perform and won her first race of the regatta. That bullet saw her move up a further three places to 5th overall. It was Damien Seguin from France who came in second, his best result so far and Canadian Bruce Millar took third. None of the top three sailors managed a top five result in this race but with only nine points separating gold from bronze and two races scheduled for tomorrow the championships is still up for grabs.
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