Qualification races finished at the 49er Worlds in Sorrento today with the top 25 crews going into the gold fleet to race of for the World Championship title over the next three days.
Many prayed for heavier winds at this regatta, getting their wish today, although a lot more than they bargained for in gusty and shifty 20-25 knot southerlies. It made the going tough and resulted in lots of upside-down skiffs, protests and minor injuries that kept the medical officers busy most the afternoon.
Australia's Nathan OUTTERIDGE
and Ben AUSTIN
thrived in the heavy winds and wavy and choppy seas off Sorrento and they retain their lead of the Championship. Fending of challenges from other teams, the Aussies finished the day with 5-1-3 results.
With a total score of 17, OUTTERIDGE and AUSTIN are just four points clear of Rodion LUKA
and George LEONCHUK
(UKR) who moved into second place today following 2,3,2 results, and six points clear of third placed defending World Champs Stevie MORRISON
and Ben RHODES
In race 8, the Aussies, selected for Beijing, were sitting in fourth place at the first windward mark in a tight bunch with Alexandre MONTEAU
and Damien GUILLOU
(FRA), John PINK
and Simon WHEELER
(GBR) and Giuseppe ANGILELLA
and Pietro ZUCCHETTI
(ITA). Olympic Champions, Iker MARTINEZ
and Xavi FERNANDEZ
(ESP) led the fleet by a good margin.
By the second time around, the Aussies had moved up to second place with the French crew snapping at their heels. At the rounding, the Spanish crew headed out, the four behind them took a course closer to the shore. On reaching the next mark, it was crew OUTTERIDGE in front with team MONTEAU hot on their tails, but the Aussies managed to hold them off to the finish. Earlier leaders MARTINEZ and FERNANDEZ finished seventh.
MORRISON and RHODES had a similar day to the Aussies, with 6,3,1 results keeping them in third place and close on the tails of the leaders. In race 8, it was all some could do to keep their boats afloat and on track and MORRISON talked RHODES through some manoeuvres, more to reassure himself as the pair watched others capsize around them.
German brothers Jan-Peter PECKOLT
and Hannes PECKOLT
are now fourth, with MARTINEZ and FERNANDEZ moving up to fifth place. This championship is by no means over and continues tomorrow with a further three races.
Of those nations trying to qualify for the Games, Brazil's Andre FONSECA
and Rodrigo DUARTE
are the only crew to make it into the gold fleet, currently in a pleasing 19th place. Others seeking selection are in the silver fleet.
, skipper of the US Virgin Island crew here to try and qualify their nation for the Olympic Games, described today's conditions: "It was so windy and choppy; it made it hard sailing downwind."
He and crew Cy THOMPSON
have been in Sorrento since December in their attempts to qualify for the Olympics. However, big capsizes in races 7 and 9 resulted in not finishing those races. They are currently in 35th place on equal points with 36th-placed brothers Goran IVANKOVIC
and Ivan IVANKOVIC
(CRO) who are also trying to qualify their country.
Results are provisional pending protests. The Sail Melbourne ISAF Grade W event continues tomorrow.
Sail Melbourne - www.sailmelbourne.com.au
Results - www.yachting.org.au/site/yachting/event/14245/