JJ Giltinan Trophy- Gotta Love It 7 makes her mark in Race 2
by Richard Gladwell Sail-World.com/nz on 2 Mar 2014
Race 2 of the JJ Giltinan Trophy got underway in light winds on Sydney harbour on Sunday afternoon
Gotta Luv it 7 - JJ Giltinan Trophy, 2014 - Day 2 Beth Morley - Sport Sailing Photography© http://www.sportsailingphotography.com
The race was due to start at 3.00pm Sydney time, but it has been raining heavily in Sydney and the wind is shifting. Already there has been one postponement posted. Also there is a large ocean line anchored in the middle of the harbour to add to PRO, Gary Linacre's worries.
A general recall was signalled on the first start after most of the fleet were over the line on the shortened start line. Winds are being reported from Fort Dennison in the harbour at 4-5kts from a southerly direction at 3.15pm. The breeze was much stronger earlier in the day, and looks to have increased for the second starting attempt. The fleet got away on the second start with just an individual recall being signalled, and was quickly dropped.
Series favourite Gotta Love It 7 led around the first mark, only to be overtaken briefly by GBR entry, Pica, who took advantage of the increased pressure. However a boat handling error before the leeward mark cost the Brits the lead and Gotta Love it 7 regained the lead, with Kitchen Maker (Malcom Page) second and Pica in third, however aside from the race leader, positions changed regularly on the beat. Wind has increased to 10-12kts with constant rain.
Gotta Love It 7 led around the mark at Shark Island, with Thurlow Fisher in second and Rag and Famish third. C-Tech, (Alex Vallings (NZ) was fifth having made big climb back from the 20's at the previous mark.
Gotta Love It 7 continued to lead albeit it narrowly from Thurlow Fisher, with big shifts coming through the course as the boats sailed back on the wind. The positions remained the same at the next mark, with the breeze softening, and few overtaking lanes available as the wind dropped to 3-5kts.
Gotta Love It 7 (Seve Jarvin) sailed a very astute downwind leg, chasing the breeze into Watson's Bay before gybing back to the centre of the course carrying pressure as best they could. Thurlow Fisher held on for second but never really challenged at Mark 5. Mojo Wines (Chris Nicholson) was third.
After a strong challenge from Kitchen Marker, Gotta Love It 7 took the win from Kitchen Maker with Thurlow Fisher third. Rag and Famish finished fourth with C-Tech (NZ) fifth.
Speaking to 18fter TV's Mark Heeley, after the race Thurlow Fisher's Michael Coxon said they had a bad start and missed the first shift, but had an excellent line down the first run, moving from in the 12th up to second in just one leg.
Kitchen Maker's Malcolm Page, and Olympic Gold medallist said yesterday and today's conditions reminded him of the 2008 Olympics in Qingdao. 'All those old memories came flooding back, good memories, I guess because we won,' he said of the similarities between the light weather Olympic venue and the shifting winds and tidal currents of Sydney harbour that had played such a big part in both day's racing.
Of the switch in helmsman, bringing aspiring Olympic 49er sailor Will Phillips into the boat with Page moving into the middle of the boat, page said that today was only Phillips third day in the 18fter. 'For us to be playing with the Big Boys, is pretty incredible. We’re just out there to have fun,’ he added. 'Most races we have had a great start and been mixing it at the top mark. Today’s race is a keeper, at last,' he grinned.
Of their sudden return to form, this regatta, Thurlow Fisher’s Michael Coxon, said they had gone back to the basics, and got their heads out of the boat.
'A couple of days before this regatta, one of my crew Dave O’Connor gave me a folder with all the basic stuff be hands out to the Optimist kids, he coaches. So we did a few things from that – like trying to point straight at the mark. Not that we were quite able to do that today,' he quipped.
Gotta Love It 7’s Scott Babbage told Mark Neeley, after the race ‘we were good off the start, third at the top mark. Good boat handling at the bottom mark put us in the lead, then it was a matter of hanging on. The ferries helped us, too,' he added.
Babbage said that despite being the pick of most pundits to take another JJ title, the crew doesn’t feel particularly strong compared to the other boats in the super light conditions. ‘We just take it as it comes.' The number of lead swaps on the final leg to the finish points to the defending champion’s crew just concentrating on keeping the boat moving and working the edges as they come.
The bigger fleet, of 34 boats, with some top internationals had made it more difficult for Gotta Love It 7 to recover and dominate as she had done in earlier racing this season.
It has been confirmed that the first resail day, Monday, will be used for sailing the first race in the series.