At the halfway stage of the 2007 Laser 4.7 World Championships in Hermanus, South Africa, Andraz GULIC from Slovenia holds a comfortable 12-point lead over his 114 fellow competitors.
The fleet from 26 countries and six continents have been sailing a qualifier series of up to ten races, split into two groups daily, that concluded with a windless day on Wednesday 2 January and will be followed by two days of finals racing.
After a delayed start, waiting for a light westerly sea breeze to develop, Andraz GULIC
(SLO) opened his account with a first place whilst his fellow countryman, Jakob BOZIC
, did the same in the second fleet after it was shortened due to a dying wind. Following a one hour wait ashore the fleets were called afloat as the breeze returned to give a good early evening race in 6 to 8 knots of wind. GULIC continued to excel in the light conditions by winning his second race in the yellow fleet. Pan American Games silver medallist, Alexander ZIMMERMANN
from Peru, took the lead from Giovanni COCCOLUTO
(ITA) at the beginning of the final windward leg of blue fleet race. However, after an epic match race type tacking dual the 16 year old Peruvian was overtaken by the Italian just before the finish.
On the second day the sea breeze developed in its more usual south westerly direction producing two good races in 6 to 8 knots that built to 12 to 15 knots by the afternoon. ZIMMERMANN scored his first win in the blue fleet with the Croatian, Marko PERESA
taking the gun in the yellow fleet both after leading for the whole race. There were further new faces at the front in the stronger winds of the second race. Michael CLARKE
(GBR), who had been leading the yellow fleet for most of the race, was overtaken by Jonathan SCHOPFER
(SUI) on the last upwind leg. In the blue fleet Baepi PINNA
(BRA) led from start to finish. GULIC finished the day with two fifth places to take the overall lead.
After a calm early morning the south westerly wind returned slightly stronger for the third day. The high quality fleet produced four more new winners that included a big cheer from supporters for local sailor Michael SHAW (RSA), who scored South Africa's first win of the series in the 9 to 12 knot westerly wind. In spite of the stronger winds the fleets were also getting more aggressive at the starts and several starts were required for both fleets. Piotr OGRODNIK
from Poland took the other winning gun in race 5. The wind increased to its highest so far in the championship. The 15 to 16 knot wind was ideal for Russian Yan CHEKH and Alexandre ALENCASTRO (BRA) who won their respective fleets. Meanwhile GULIC had his first wobble finishing 18th in the fifth race but recovered his consistency for the sixth race to score a fourth and remain in the overall lead after discard.
The start of the New Year brought a change in the weather and a southerly wind that was unstable. The Race Committee struggled keep a square line resulting in a number of postponements and recalls in spite of using the black flag for the majority of starts. One race was eventually completely in 8 to 10 knots before a more dramatic change brought wind from the east quickly followed by rain that killed the wind and the chance of a further race. Ivan ZOTOV
(RUS) and Boris BIGNOLI
(ITA) were yet more new race winners whilst once again, GUlic posted another top five result to stay on top overall.
On Wednesday, day five of the championship, the wind disappeared from the Cape Region of South Africa. The fleet waited on the shore for several hours and were then called afloat as a fickle wind arrived in the afternoon. Several attempts were made to start the yellow fleet but each time it was aborted as a result of a major shift in the wind direction or the wind dying. The Race Committee gave up trying to get a race at 17:30.
The fleet is now split into gold and silver fleets for the last two days. GULIC leads the overall standings on 21 points, 12 points ahead of ZIMMERMANN. BIGNOLI is third on 34 points, just one point ahead of home favourite Matthew SHORE (RSA).
Event Website - www.laser47worlds07.sailing.org.za
Results - click here