A brisk 20-25 knot easterly greeted the 55 teams entered at today's start to the 2010 ORCi World Championship, with two windward-leeward inshore races completed and a third postponed due to the breeze increasing to over 30 knots.
Even with courses set in the relative shelter of the inner Flensburger Forde west of the Holnis peninsula, the fresh conditions still caused a few gear failures, including two broken masts and other problems.
Nonetheless the racing was still extremely competitive amongst the frontrunners, with many positions determined to within only seconds in corrected time.
On impressive scores of 3 -1 for the day, Richard Vojta's Grand Soleil 42R Bohemia Express (CZE) leads the 21 entries in the Alpha division, but by only a quarter point over Christian Plump's Beluga Sailing Team (GER) who scored 2 -2 on the day.
According to Bohemia Express tactician Christian Binder
(AUT), they felt great in the strong breeze, but could have increased that margin even a little more had they not had a few problems in the first race.
"We were doing really well in that race, but blew up our Code 3 spinnaker in the last gybe,"
said Binder. "Since our [3rd place] position was only 19 seconds behind Beluga in that race, it shows that every second counts in this event."
But Binder did not consider that Beluga had made their own mistakes in that race too by hitting the offset mark and having to perform a 360° penalty turn for the error. The close timing was even closer in Race 2 between these two rival teams who have been favoured to lead the Alpha division: Bohemia's victory in that race was by a mere second in corrected time, and only 4 seconds in elapsed time, making this virtually boat-for-boat racing.
"We watched Beluga surf at us on a huge puff just at the end of this race,"
said Binder, "so we knew it would be very close!"
Results in the Beta division were sometimes even closer, with first place in the first race and 5th place in the second race scored as ties. It may be no surprise therefore that the division leader and runner-up were both involved in those ties, though the leader has made a wider jump forward in the standings than seen in the Alpha division results. Jurgen Klinghardt's X-332 Sport (GER) patent 3 tied Erik van Vuuren's team on Salona (NED) in Race 1, but won outright by 40 seconds in Race 2 to make a nearly clean sweep of the day and take a 4.75 point lead.
Besides the high speeds and close racing, the fresh conditions also unfortunately caused serious problems for some teams.
Amongst the numerous broken sails and other gear failures, possibly the most spectacular breakage was the gooseneck sheared off the mast during a practice gybe on Gorm Gondesen's Rogers 46 Shakti (GER). The break caused significant
damage to the carbon spar, forcing them ashore for the day. Fortunately, a sistership to Shakti is not far away in Kiel, so negotiations are now underway to see if another spar can be borrowed to get them racing again soon.
Further information and documents for the 2010 ORCi World Championship can be found on the Flensburg Segel-Club website: www.fsc.de/regatten/orci-worlds-2010