The US team of Nick SCANDONE and Maureen MCKINNON-TUCKER increased their overall lead after today's single SKUD18 race at the 2008 Paralympic Sailing Competition.
Due to fickle wafty breezes dictating a late start, there may have only been one race on Thursday instead of the scheduled three, but what a race it was. Five competitors fought down the entire run home to the finish in light airs with Alexandra RICKHAM
and Niki BIRRELL
(GBR) the eventual victors over the trailing teams from USA, Canada, Australia, Canada and Malaysia.
"I spotted a special line of wind on the left-hand side of the course immediately off the start and although we didn't start well that gave us a massive lift, got us straight back into the race and we rounded the first mark in first. It was another very tricky race but we're looking forward to the rest of the regatta," explained BIRRELL.
The top three overall places have not changed. Nick SCANDONE and Maureen MCKINNON-TUCKER's (USA ) second today was enough for them to retain the overall lead, five points ahead of Dan FITZGIBBON and Rachael COX (AUS). A further point away are John MCROBERTS and Stacie LOUTTIT (CAN), with the British crew taking over fourth place, 10 points behind the Canadians.
Competitors waited around all morning and finally made it onto the water and waited some more. Although sea breezes were a wafty 4-6 knots, testing the mental tenacity of sailors, rather than the physical, the racing was slow, but thrilling.
The Great Britain crew got their noses in front early to lead Australia, Canada, USA and Malaysia around the first mark. Those same came five abreast from midway down the run home to the finish line, each boat stealing air from the other's spinnakers .
A game of tactics played out at the end. Britain was windward most boat, so stayed out of trouble. Australia put in a gybe towards the shore; all except USA immediately followed, but then even they followed.
As the most leeward boat, Australia was getting the worst of the deal, so gybed away again. It cost FITZGIBBON dearly, but there was nothing else he could do as first Britain crossed, then the USA and Canada, who beat him and COX by a whisker.
"It was a different kind of competition because of the almost no-wind situation. The Canadian boat finished only two millimeters in front of us," FITZGIBBON said. The Canadian skipper, MCROBERTS concurred: "There was only a bowsprit in it. The conditions were difficult."
As is usual, the experience and expertise of SCANDONE showed as he and MCKINNON-TUCKER poked their nose in for second and happily retain their series lead. On coming ashore, SCANDONE commented: "Today was light - in fact almost too light for racing, but we fortunately ended up close to the top."
Of continuing in first place overall, the American said: "We need to stay consistent and have solid finishes in the rest of our races. The rest will take care of itself - it has so far!"
Originally due to sail three races, only one race took place today as racing did not get underway until shortly after 15:00. Race Officials now plan to run three races instead of two tomorrow, starting at 12:00, an hour earlier than originally planned.
Results - click here
ISAF Paralympic Games microsite - www.sailing.org/paralympics