Craig BURLTON and his British Gill Race Team held onto their overall lead after light winds made for a tricky day four in Dun Laoghaire, Ireland.
Dublin Bay threw a bone to the locals on Thursday as the SB3 World Championships entered its final phase. Crews were held onshore for the morning, with little wind available to shift the fog that had settled on the water since dawn.
Light airs were set to be the order of the day and when the committee finally called everyone out to play, in less than eight knots of wind, knowledge of Dublin Bay's finicky tidal streams would proved crucial.
The gold fleet, racing in the southeastern area of the bay, would feel it most pronouncedly, with the course allowing the fleet to split across a major tidal stream. Those who had on board, or who had sought out local knowledge could expect to make big gains if they got things right.
In the first race, however, it was all about clean air and boatspeed. Two of Wednesday night's leaders, Craig BURLTON and Mike BUDD, failed to find it and tumbled into the twenties, with Geoff CARVETH ending up ninth. The top five was, unusually, packed with four Irish skippers and one French helm.
Laser Performance skipper Nico HONOR took the gun, followed by Star sailor Peter O'LEARY
in second. Belfast's Gareth FLANNIGAN followed, with another Irish Olympian Ger OWENS
in fourth and Aidan O'CONNELL one back in fifth.
Ian MILLS, crew aboard the winning boat, said that going left upwind and keeping clear air helped them nose out in front.
For race two, the tide had turned, and Jerry HILL, skipper of British entry, had also planned out his strategy according to advice from a local, "We'd taken a little bit of advice from a Dragon sailor who sails this bay quite a lot, and he told us that when the breeze is in that quadrant, and you've got a north-flowing tide, you really want to tack in towards the Dun Laoghaire shore.
"We hit the right [hand side of the course] pretty hard and we could tell early on that it was paying,"
HILL had to battle with BURLTON in the later stages of the race, but held the fleet off to take the win.
In the silver fleet, meanwhile, Tim CORK leads overall.
The overall result of Thursday's proceedings, however, was merely a re-shuffle at the top. BURLTON regains a five-point lead at the top, with CARVETH in second and South African skipper Dave HUDSON, winner at Cork Week, nine points adrift of the top slot in third. Ten small points separate HUDSON from the boat in eighth place, and another race counted means teams get to discard their worst remaining score, which will tighten things further. After Thursday's delays, things get underway early on Friday morning to make up for lost time. Whatever happens, the first ever SB3 World Championship will be crowned in Dun Laoghaire's National Yacht Club on Friday afternoon.
Full results at www.sb3worlds2008.com