Weather conditions on day four were perfect, the southeasterly blowing at 16-18 knots, the sun shining and the sky blue. Spectators on the beach enjoyed the action as the F18s flew around the race course.
Triple F18 World Champion BOOTH was smiling after winning the last race and catching BUNDOCK, who had led the regatta since the first race. 'Conditions have been good for us so far. The last race was interesting. We'd been square with the Billy BESSON [(FRA)] at the bottom mark, we chose the favoured gate, which was the right, then we were committed because we could not cross the fleet coming down under spinnaker. We were unhappy being out there on our own.
'We found a nice shift on the right and rounded at least 20 lengths ahead. Darren made a big gain down the last run. There is still a long way to go in this regatta though, anything could happen from here.'
On the beach BUNDOCK commented on the regatta so far, 'Mitch has more time than anyone else on Tigers. To be honest three years ago in these conditions, which are perfect for him, he'd have left us all for dead, so we are pleased to be square with him, with a better drop.'
Mark LARUFFA, the Regatta Co-coordinator was reflecting on the sunshine and lighter breezes. 'These are the conditions we expected, plenty of sunshine, almost postcard sailing, close to the brochure. If we can get two more days like this it will be great.'
Day Four Action
BOOTH won the first race of the day, race 6 in the series and was leading race 7 when, just 300 metres from the finish, he broke a halyard and his spinnaker came down.
After a general recall the fleet got away cleanly in race 8 and BOOTH and NIEUWENHIS immediately showed their preference for the conditions, sailing clear of the fleet. Billy BESSON and Arnaud JARLEGAN (FRA) were second around the mark, with Mischa HEEMSKERK and Cristopher RASLEY (NED) third, 12 seconds in arrears. BUNDOCK and ASHBY were fourth, after going out to the right of the course.
Heading towards the next mark, BOOTH and NIEUWENHIS continued their dominance of the race, rounding 21 seconds ahead of BESSON and JARLEGAN. HEEMSKERK and RASLEY were third, with BUNDOCK and ASHBY moving up from sixth to fourth.
BOOTH and NIEUWENHIS crossed the line way ahead of BESSON and JARLEGAN, with BUNDOCK and ASHBY, 22 seconds further back, but moving up one place from the last mark rounding, to take third. HEEMSKERK and RASLEY were three seconds behind them.
Another Dutch Bullet
After two general recalls, the F18 fleet started race 9 cleanly on the third attempt. BUNDOCK and ASHBY and BOOTH and NIEUWENHIS starting on the pin end of the line. They went left, followed by 50% of the fleet.
The leading pair started left and stayed left, coming into the next mark from the port layline. Out on the right of the course, Brad COLLETT and Lucas MCDONALD (AUS) made big gains, making up for their ordinary start.
At the first mark, BESSON and JARLEGAN had a good lead over Hugh STYLES and Tom PEEL (GBR). BOOTH and NIEUWENHIS were third, followed BUNDOCK and ASHBY. The leading group tightened up coming into the mark as the breeze continued to build gradually.
At the next mark BOOTH and NIEUWENHIS moved up from third into the lead and extended to hold a big lead over the fleet as they approached the next mark. They had made a huge gain on the right, with their lead probably 25 boat lengths over BUNDOCK and ASHBY, who came up on the left hand side of the course.
The Dutch lead was unassailable, and they went on to win easily from their Aussie rivals. Fernando ECHAVARRI and Anton PAZ (ESP) came flying in from left, and so did another group of F18s out on the right. There was nothing between them and it was difficult to pick who finished where.