Santander 2014 ISAF Worlds – Big Morning Breeze, Fickle Afternoon

isaf santander 49erSailors arose to big breeze in Santander for the sixth day of racing at the Santander 2014 ISAF Sailing World Championships and with 64 scheduled races it was set to be a big Wednesday.

Gusts of up to 30 knots were reported across the race track early on in the day and with an 11h00 local time start some of the fleets took to the water. As the day progressed the breeze began to decrease significantly across the race tracks, but all fleets, apart from the Nacra 17, were able to get racing in.

The Laser and Laser Radial have completed their series and the top 10 in each fleet will now advance to Thursday’s Medal Races. The 49er, Finn and Men’s RS:X completed their qualification series whilst the 49erFX need to complete two further races and the Men’s 470 one to complete theirs. Racing in the Women’s RS:X and Women’s 470 resumed with gold fleet competition.

49er
Our local RSA guys, Graeme Willcox & Andrew Tarboton had a great day on the water – and won one of their heats. They are in 50th place overall with these results: 30; 31;; 1; 27; 26

The 49er racing was all about completing qualification and securing a spot in Gold fleet for the final part of the championship. The 49er racing started out with a final race of the yellow fleet to even up the fleets. They went out into big breeze and difficult conditions. Of the 40 boats racing only 19 managed to complete the course. It was complete carnage on the water, and heartbreak for Dylan Fletcher and Alain Sign (GBR) who scored a DNF, effectively knocking themselves out of the championship.

The final race of the day was quite a special one. Struggling to find steady breeze outside, the course managers brought the 40 boat fleet to the Duna Medal Race course area for one final race. The area is restricted due to the shipping channel, so the 40 strong fleet raced a 4 lap race in over 15 knots that only took 16 minutes. The crowd were boisterous in approval of the amazing display of talent and boathandling required for these sailors to pull off such a feat of seamanship. The largest cheer of the day was for the Paz brothers who finished third in the race, which was just what they needed to secure one of the final gold fleet spots.

The fleet now turns its attention to Olympic qualifying. There are 14 countries represented in the gold fleet and 10 Olympic places on offer.

Laser
South African Stefano Marcia is in 96th place with the following results:
15; 43; 46; 15; 43.

Matthew Wearn (AUS) finished his championship off on a high point mixing it with the rock stars and holding his own to take the winning gun ahead of Phillipp Buhl (GER) and Nick Thompson (GBR) in the single Laser race.

On the proceedings Thompson said, “It was a good technical race with lots of shifts. We mostly played the middle and we were swapping places most of the way round.”

Overnight leader Tom Burton (AUS) holds his lead and was relaxed when he told his story, “There was a lot of waiting and not much sailing but some events are like that. My race was not too bad. I got round the first mark in fourth but I got myself kind of stitched up on the second beat when I missed a persistent right shift and dropped to seventh. That could be costly but it was not a too bad race anyway.”

Burton goes into the Medal Race two points ahead of Thompson who in turn is only four points ahead of Nicholas Heiner (NED). Philipp Buhl (GER), who has hit a purple patch in the last three gold fleet races, is breathing down his neck.

Thompson has medalled three times at a world championship and after nine times world champion Robert Scheidt (BRA) in 6th place is the second most experienced sailor in the top ten. For sure he will be fighting hard to complete his medal set.

So the scene is set for an exciting Medal Race in both fleets today..

Men’s 470
On their second race our RSA guys, Asenathi Jim & Roger Hudson, went from first to last due to fickle winds, They redeemed themselves in the 3rd race with a 13th, and now lie 20th overall with results: 4; 31; 13.

The day kicked off with race 3 for the 470 Men blue fleet, to get them on equal races with the yellow fleet. An on-water postponement for around an hour was pretty challenging, in big breeze and big waves, as they waited for the Race Committee to re-set the course.

The pressure is now high intensity, with just two more days left to wrap up the qualification series and get the Gold and Silver fleet racing underway, before Medal Race day on Saturday.