The mood of the weather gods did an about face for day three of the Splash World Sailing Championship sailed off picturesque Takapuna Beach in Auckland, New Zealand, with light and variable conditions seeing a new group of sailors take over the top spots.
After two days of robust and often challenging breeze, and a morning spent on standby waiting for enough wind to start a race, the final two races of the qualifying series were started in 5-8 knots of breeze coming from the northeast.
The lighter conditions meant that according to provisional results, Chris Steele (NZL) replaced Ben Lutze (NZL) in the prime position today, with reigning champ Declan Burn (NZL) in second, and Michael Cate (NZL) third.
George Lane (NZL) is fourth position, and Bart Sluijter (NED) and Mathieu de By (NED) are the first internationals in the rankings. Lutze has dropped to seventh, and Michael Kamp (NED) has dropped from second to eighth place. James Little (NZL) and Frank Woltman (NED) are new entrants to the top ten, occupying ninth and tenth respectfully.
"Chris's consistent podium finishes are a credit to him," says event spokesperson Helen McKenzie, of the former Optimist World Championship holder. "He is not used to racing the Splash dinghy, but he is excelling."
While light conditions generally favour light sailors, she says that Cate is a physically bigger sailor in the class, who was able to win his second race of the day. "Good results for these guys are still do-able. The points spread is close, and the podium is wide open."
Some of the female sailors in the fleet came to the fore today. Following a third and a fourth, reigning Champ Nienke de Jorna (NED) is now the top female, four points ahead of Kiwi Laura Hemingway, and 21st overall.
Entrants are now divided into gold and silver fleets. Three races are to be held on Thursday and two on Friday, and the winner of the gold fleet will be crowned World Champion.
The breeze is expected to be light again tomorrow, with a westerly change. Friday should bring more consistent sailing.
The line up at the 2010 Splash World Sailing Championships includes 73 youth sailors from 12 countries. New Zealanders have been World Champions in the class in 2000, 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2009, and in 2009 New Zealand also won the Nations Cup at the Splash World Champs held in Europe.
Full results are posted on Takapuna Boating Club's website - www.takapunaboating.org.nz