Matt Hansen, West Australian 505 President, commented that the wild conditions in 25 knot winds gusting up to 36 knots certainly tested out the skills of the international contingent in the 505 Australian Open and Pre-Worlds.
Nevertheless home town hero, Peter Chappell with Ian Davidson, managed to sneak through and win from Howie Hamlin, of USA, the world 18ft skiff champion with crew Mike Martin. Australians, Luke Molloy and Lucas Prescott, were third.
The event started with an early introduction to the Fremantle Doctor, the well renowned Fremantle sea breeze. The winds this season have been the strongest since America's Cup in 1986 and today was no exception. This is the first 505 World Championships with the boats carrying the new larger spinnakers and as expected there was action aplenty. Shore side after the race was a hive of activity repairing broken gear and checking out for any weak areas.
Confirmed entries of over 100 boats with around half being international sailors, many of whom have a string of world sailing trophies, ensure that this will indeed be a memorable regatta and a battle of the giants.
Champagne sailing conditions
Racing went well in ideal racing conditions in the second and third races of the Grolsch Australian 505 Nationals, pre-warm up event for the Grolsch 505 Worlds. Howie Hamlin, from USA, world 18 ft skiff champion, led at the top mark in race two in 15-18 knot southwesterly winds. Howie, and crew Ian Davidson, increased their lead steadily throughout the race, crossing the line in first position, 23 seconds ahead of Ian Barker, silver medallist, and crew Dan Cripps, from Britain, in Bodge It and Scarper.
South Australians Sandy Higgins, defending Australian champion, with Paul Marsh, in Sleek led the Australian contingent finishing third.
The gate starts are working exceptionally well, with over 100 boats starting without incident setting the fleet up for a fantastically even start in champagne starting conditions.
In race three, after an even better start with more than 100 boats on the water, Peter Chappell in The Fish, with hyper speed, led at the top mark to finish first over the line. Sandy Higgins was close behind in second place and Howie Hamlin finished third.
Spinnaker reaches with the new larger kites and the solid Fremantle Doctor had the boats skipping across the waves.
The fleet was so competitive that after a two nautical mile beat, 20 boats converged on the top mark at the same time from different angles giving the International Jury some after hours work.
Barney Harris and Clayton James from USA, sailing Team Spot, were the recalcitrant boat and paid the penalty, after coming in on a port tack at the mark, and tried to make room for themselves among around 15 boats all on starboard.
Racing continues today and the World Championship starts on Saturday.
Overall Top Ten (After 3 Races)
||Howard Hamlin/Mike Martin
||Peter Chappell/Ian Davidson
||Luke Molloy/Lucas Prescott
||Alexander Higgins/Paul Marsh
||Leslie Nathanson/Richard Machin
||Terry Scutcher/Christian Diebitsch
||Dave Smithwhite/Neil Fulcher
||Justin Mitchell/Ken Mitchell
||Paul Mitchell/Sam Haines
||Michael Quirk/Geoff Lange