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15 October 2003, 09:18 am
Strong Winds Fuel Exciting Racing on Day One
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J/80 World Championship
Fort Worth, Texas

Racing started yesterday for the big fleet on the water in Texas and the building breeze in the moprning meant for three close and exciting races, before the breeze dropped in the afternoon.
Principal Race Officer, Bob Gough of Corinthian Sailing Club in Dallas set his sights on 3 races per day in order to complete the desired 10 race series.A minimum of 4 races are required to validate the championship title and if at least 8 races are completed, the competitors will be allowed to discard their worst finish in the final standings.

Race 1

Tensions ran high as the competitors checked in and prepared to do battle for the coveted title of J/80 World Champion. Racing began at 0919 hours with a course set at 355 for a weather leg of 1.3 miles. After a clean start, the boats were on their way with the majority of competitors choosing the west side of the course and a good split of the fleet -3/4 of the way to the weather mark. Wind speed at 0936 was up, with puffs showing at 22-25 and the first downwind leg providing a great show for spectators as the colorful kites were spread out over the lake. No course changes were required in the first race and five legs were sailed. Several protest flags were noted at the finish.

Race 2

Race Committee reconfigured the course with a compass bearing of 000 to the weather mark. Sunshine and blue skies with moderate air temperature and wind velocity dropping to 12-15 knots prevailed as the warning signal was fired at 1121. Following one general recall the competitors stayed behind the line and no individual recalls were required for the start. Heavy puffs came in at 20-22 knots, but settled back into a steady 10-15 for the remainder of the race. Once again the competitors were split on both sides of the course and no changes were necessary for the five legs. Again protest flags were noted.

Race 3

Wind velocity continued to drop during the early afternoon with readings of 8-12 knots taken at 1321 hours. Wind direction became more challenging as the Race Committee moved the signal boat farther to the east so the competitors would not be pinned against the west shore only to find a significant shift toward the northeast which may have compromised the length of the race course. The decision was made to move slightly back to the west and set up with a compass heading of 355. The warning signal was sounded at 1411 hours. Three boats at the pin end of the line were called over early and all three came back to start properly. Winds continued to shift and racers were presented with a course change to 335 for the second weather leg. Boats continued to round both port and starboard marks at the leeward gate and the wind held at 12 knots. At the finish line, competitors were signaled to return to the harbor.

Exciting events near the end of the day provided one of our Swedish visitors the opportunity to stand out as a hero when he dove into Eagle Mountain Lake to free a fouled propeller. Nearby ladies commented, "It's raining men!" Jay LUTZ (USA) had a strong showing with bullets in the first two races and a sixth place finish in the last race to put him 2 points behind the current leader Scott SPURLIN (USA) with 3-2-1 finishes. Lutz commented, "It's a long regatta and it's going to get dicey. We are glad our first three races will be keepers."

Racing resumes at 0900local time today. For more information and regatta results, visit the event website at the address below.
Karen Smith (As Amended By ISAF News Editor)
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