The stormy conditions experienced in Auckland over the weekend abated for day one of the 2008 Tornado World Championship today. Fifty-one Tornados took to the water under blue sunny skies and a shifty south westerly breeze of around 12 to 18 knots.
Roland GAEBLER and Gunnar STRUCKMANN, who were second at the recent ISAF Grade 1 Singapore Airlines Sail Auckland Regatta used by 40 Tornado crews to tune-up for this event, were third in both races sailed today and lead the fleet at the end of day one with a narrow one-point margin.
"We are leading overall after two races, so that is a good start," said STRUCKMAN after racing today. "We were never in the top three around the top mark, but climbed through the fleet, by getting the shifts right, so we are happy with that."
Hot on their tail in the standings is John LOVELL and Charlie OGLETREE representing the USA. The Americans were second in race 1 and then fifth in race 2 to hold second overall at this early stage in the regatta.
Then equal on nine points in third and fourth are Mitch BOOTH and Pim NIEUWENHUIS of the Netherlands and Brits Andrew WALSH and Edward BARNEY.
Meanwhile defending World Champions Fernando ECHAVARRI and Anton PAZ of Spain opened the regatta with a win in race 1 but weren't able to follow that up crossing in 14th place in race 2.
It was mixed fortunes also for Oskar JOHANSSON and Kevin STITTLE of Canada who were 21st in race 1 and then took the gun in the second race of the day. "The wind strength ranged from 12-18 knots, but very shifty," said JOHANSSON. "Up to 30 degree shifts with holes, so made it difficult."
"In the second race we managed to pick the first shift, which was the key to winning it. We are trying to win one of the remaining four Olympic spots left and it is a very high standard."
In what promises to be a hard-fought battle Canada, New Zealand, Puerto Rico and the Ukraine are currently the best placed of the nine nations who are on the hunt for one of the four remaining Olympic places to be decided at the this event. This puts the pressure on double Olympic gold medallists and reigning Olympic champions, Roman HAGARA and Hans Peter STEINACHER of Austria who are also fighting for a spot after failing to qualify the country at the ISAF Sailing World Championships in Portugal last year.
Another surprise at the end of the first day is to see hot favourites Darren BUNDOCK and Glenn ASHBY of Australia lying 19th in the overall standings. The pair, who has a string of recent wins in the class including Singapore Airlines Sail Auckland sailed on the same waters just a week ago, were 14th and 23rd in racing on day one.
The best placed of the local entries are Aaron MCINTOSH and Mark KENNEDY (NZL), who have started well sitting in tenth place at the end of the first day. If they're able to continue this early form they'll be well placed to achieve their target of qualifying an Olympic berth for New Zealand.
Racing resumes tomorrow with a planned start time of 13:00 and a further two races scheduled.
1. GER Roland Gaebler and Gunnar Struckman 6 points (3, 3)
2. USA John Lovell and Charlie Ogletree 7 points (2, 5)
3. NED Mitch Booth and Pim Nieuwenhuis 9 points (7, 2)
4. GBR Andrew Walsh and Edward Barney 9 points (5, 4)
5. FRA Yann Guichard and Alexandre Guyander 13 points (4, 9)
6. ESP Fernando Echavarri and Anton Paz 15 points (1, 14)
7. ITA Francesco Marcolini and Edoardi Bianchi 18 points (11, 7)
8. CAN Oskar Johansson and Kevin Stittle 22 points (21, 1)
9. BEL Carolijn Brouwer and Sebastian Godefroid 23 points (12, 11)
10. NZL Aaron McIntosh and Mark Kennedy 25 points (17, 8)
Tornado World Championship - www.takapunaworlds.org