Defending champion, Sweden's Peter Andersson, got his title defence off to a perfect start laying down the gauntlet to his rivals and topping the leaderboard at the end of day one of the 2013 International 2.4 Metre World Championships at the Poole Yacht Club (Tuesday 10 September).
Andersson and fellow countryman, the six-time World Champion Stellan Berlin, finished the opening day in the same order as they ended the 2012 World Championships in Italy with Britain's Paralympic champion, Helena Lucas, in third.
But there was a dark horse in the fleet as Sydney 2000 49er silver medalist, Ian Barker, the coach of Lucas, picked up two seconds and was only denied a place in the early medal spots with a race two OCS. With only one discard in the event after six races, Barker will have to be on his guard if he is going to mount a title challenge.
Berlin has won more 2.4mR World titles than anyone else, and has incredibly finished with a medal at 12 of the last 13 World Championships.
After opening his 2013 account with scores of 3, 2, 4 - compared to leader Andersson's 1, 4, 3 - the 47-year-old from Djursholm, just north of Stockholm, believes the secret to Worlds success is consistency.
He said. "It was a very good day, very shifty and tricky but it was good racing and I had three good results so I'm very happy with that. The last couple of regattas back home Peter has not been so fast so it's good to see him up there again. I always enjoy when there is tight racing at the top and we've had that in all races today.
"When it's shifty like it has been today it's very easy to be on the wrong side of the racecourse, that can cost you a lot so as long as you can have all top seven finishes then you're in good shape. Just being consistent is more important than getting the bullets because there are so many races and boats if you do a mistake it costs you."
Contending with 30 degree wind shifts and some fluctuating breezes and choppy conditions, London 2012 gold medalist Lucas' event improved as the day went on.
Having opened her regatta with a ninth, she then scored a race two fifth before being involved in a nail-biting head-to-head with Barker in the final race of the day and getting the better of her coach to take a very satisfying race win.
This was Barker's first ever competitive outing in a 2.4mR, although the two frequently spar at close quarters in training. Lucas admits it was fun to replicate that on a serious racecourse.
She said, "Ian was all over me like a rash on both runs! There was one bit when he started going quite quickly and was coming up on the inside of me and I was like 'Why are you suddenly going so quick?!' And he shouted back, 'Well why don't you hurry up then!' The trouble is he knows my weaknesses so knows exactly what to do!
"My starts got better as the day went on and I think that was pretty key. Apart from the OCS, Ian's starts were pretty awesome and I think that's what put him up there. It was really, really busy on the start line; before the start you've got to have your eyes fully open as there are boats everywhere. It's pretty full on from the five minute gun."
Ian, who is racing in Lucas' London 2012 boat, by his own admission had no grounds for complaint over his second race disqualification for breaking the start line early. He admits he now knows exactly what his charge is talking about when it comes to getting your start line bearings in a boat that is so close to the water.
He added, "The OCS was due to disorientation before the start, when you see the amount of waves and boats and everything else. I've sailed these boats before a fair bit but never in a start with so many other boats, and the amount of chop they kick up when it's windy is unbelievable. It's like being on a bucking bronco! By the time I'd got myself together I was over the line and the race had started so that was that.
"I didn't have a clue how I was going to do. In the final race I had a really good start at the pin end and then it was just a really good race. It wasn't just Helena, we had the Swedes and a Fin up there as well. It's really hard racing, you've just got to take what shifts you can and try and figure out what's going on but it was good fun."
In a change from the original sailing instructions, racing resumes at the 2013 International 2.4mR World Championships at 1125 tomorrow (Wednesday 11 September). Three races are scheduled, with the only event discard set to come into play at the end of the day if those three races are completed.. For more details about the 2013 International 2.4mR Class World Championships visit www.24mworlds2013.co.uk
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