by Kerry Ellis
Chris Nicholson (AUS) - A-class catamaran World Championships, Day 4, Takapuna February 15, 2014
The stars of the fleet shone again on the world of A Class sailors today in race seven and eight of the 2014 A Class Catamaran World Championships.
To the relief of many after Thursday’s heavy slog the two races were sailed in excellent conditions with flat water and steady breeze. Sailors had spent the morning changing the set up of their boats because light airs were predicted for the day, but once the boats left the beach, the conditions changed, and by the time they made it to the start line the wind was between eight and ten knots with puffs a little higher.
With about fifteen minutes to go many elected to modify the settings for somewhere about halfway between what they’d had for the last day of racing and where things had been set this morning.
The first race got away with most of the fleet favouring the pin end of the line. Glen Ashby and Chris Nicholson made a break for the front. Blair Tuke found a hold in the middle of the line following left. By the top mark Andrew Landenberger was in the lead followed closely by Glen Ashby, Brad Collett and Scott Anderson. Blair Tuke worked up from tenth at the second bottom mark to an eventual forth. By the race end Glenn Ashby crossed ahead of Andrew Landenberger, and Brad Collett took third from Blair Tuke and Scott Anderson.
Aussie Chris Cairns (AUS 980) had a tough day when he hit the top mark buoy which settled in between the hulls, jamming against the forward beam. He got off after walking the hull back off the buoy, finally floating clear and sailing to a clear space where he duly completed his penalty.
The breeze was up and down the whole day and the course was shortened after the first bottom mark, with the new course length in effect for the balance of the races.
Race Two got off in about eight knots. Glenn Ashby led the pack over the line at the pin end but said later that the puff died after he crossed the line. At the first bottom mark rounding he overtook Peter Burling who was coming through slowly from the right side of the course. Glenn gybed and had enough speed to get ahead, leaving Peter rather flat and slow to respond. They were followed by Blair Tuke and Nathan Outteridge, with Ray Davies and Andrew Landenberger rounding together close behind.
At the second rounding of the bottom mark Glenn Ashby still led Peter Burling, followed by Blair Tuke about two hundred meters back. Next was Nathan Outteridge with an even a larger gap back to Ray Davies. There was a tough battle all the way up the course and back down to the finish where Blair Tuke got to the layline earlier than Nathan Outteridge who had to do a final gybe just before the line. Blair Tuke took his first win of the competition with Nathan Outteridge second followed by Glenn Ashby in a rare third place. Peter Burling finished fourth from Ray Davies, Scott Anderson and Steve Brewin.
In the overall standings Glenn Ashby (AUS) is in the lead on 11 points, with a gap back to Blair Tuke (NZL) on 26 from Andrew Landenberger (AUS) on 33. Peter Burling (NZL) sits on 35 and Ray Davies (NZL) on 46.
Quotes from today’s racing;
We asked Glen Ashby how he planned to sail in tomorrow’s final race and he replied; 'I struggle to sail conservatively. I’ll go out tomorrow and try to sail my best race.'
When asked about the failures of rudders, he said.
'Downwind, when the boats clearing the water, when you’re steering reasonably aggressively to keep the boat in control and flying, basically the hull is not taking any of the side load like it used to, so its all going through the bottom rudder gudgeon. The load has increased probably fifty to seventy percent compared to what there used to be, so we’re finding that we’re busting things that previously have never broken.'
Nathan Outteridge was asked about the finish of the second race.
'The second race was good. It was a bit lighter so the boat was going nicely, I was hanging on the tail of the first three and just waiting for a bit of puff to get up and basically ahead of Glenn, and then Blair ripped round the outside of us both just at the finish.'
Full results available on the official website www.sailingeventstakapuna.com