Thirty degree wind shifts and gusts of 25 knots greeted sailors for the first three heats of the Australian Youth Championship being sailed on the Swan River.
Principal Race Officer on the Single Handed Dinghy course, Bernie Kaakt, said it was a really challenging day for the sailors. "Whilst the South West direction was our typical sea breeze direction here on the river, it is usually nowhere near as shifty as this. To have thirty degree shifts is really unusual".
Tim Austin (NSW) showed he could handle the shifty conditions in the boys Laser fleet by taking consistent placings of 1, 3, 2 to put him into the lead. He is closely followed by Stewart Wells (TAS) who placed 2,2,3 and Tom Slingsby (NSW) with 6,1,1. The top three boats are separated by only one point. Slingsby comes into the regatta the favourite having placed second overall and top youth at the Australian Laser Championship which was held in Albany, WA last week.
In the girls Laser Radial fleet Krystal Weir (VIC) is dominating racing with a scorecard of 1,1,1. She has a six point lead over Cassie Buckley (QLD) who scored 5,2,2 with Anna Mulholland (WA) sitting in third with placings of 6,4,3. Unfortunately Pippa Brown (WA) had to retire from racing with a knee injury which could keep her from competing in the rest of the championship.
Over on the 420 course, 29er World Championship Silver Medallists, Nathan Outteridge & Ayden Menzies (NSW) showed they could make the transition to a new class by placing 1, 2 ,1 in today's races. Queenslanders Trent Gordon & Sandy Cavill sit in second place, five points behind Outteridge & Menzies with a race results of 2, 5, 2 and only one point infront of Lachlin Gibson & Jono Newman (VIC) who scored 4,3,3. The boys double handed fleet is the largest in the regatta with 30 entries. Five states of Australia are represented and this fleet also has entries from Singapore and Germany.
In the girls double handed fleet, also sailed in 420's, the top two boats are separated by only one point. Elise Rechichi & Rayshele Martin (WA) sit just ahead of Jacqui Bonnitcha & Sarah Clark (NSW) with score cards of 2,2,1 and 1,3,2 respectively. Anna Patterson & Emma Poulsen had a bit of a bad luck day. Despite winning race two, the girls sit in fifth place as a result of spinnaker halyard problems that caused several unnecessary capsizes during the third race. Third place overall after racing today is filled by Jessica Eastwell & Jessica Parkinson (WA) with results of 3, 5, 3.
James Grunfelder was the only Mistral sailboarder to enter the championship and vie for Australian Youth Team selection. James raced today and was naturally awarded three first places. There are no girls sailboarders entered so Australia is unlikely to have a representative at the World Championship in this discipline.
Racing continues tomorrow with another three races scheduled. The championship concludes on Sunday.