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Taylor Burn leads the 2011 Splash Worlds after first day

by O'Shea Butler on 18 Aug 2011
Rigging up at Lake Lipno, Czech Republic Frank Doevendans splashworlds.org
Testing conditions for Day 1 of the 2011 Splash Worlds have led to some mixed results for the New Zealand team.

Taylor Burn is showing exceptional form and was leading after three races with two wins and a third place. Evangeline Masters and Harris Bindon are both in the top half of the field and will be looking to advance during days two and three.

National Champ O’Shea Butler from Kerikeri reports on a difficult start to the regatta:

Day one was just the sort of conditions everyone hates. Light wind, cold weather and drizzly rain. Despite the conditions, we still managed to get the racing underway only a few hours over-schedule.

Race one was sailed conservatively, with a safe start near the middle of the line. Unfortunately a last second left shift of wind allowed almost every boat to my left to tack and cross my bow, and I struggled to pull places in upwind. At the windward mark, I rounded in 23rd, and fought a tedious battle to reclaim the race downwind, eventually finishing 13th in race 1.

Race 2 was my first major disappointment. Within the last 30 seconds of the start, the wind twisted right, so much so that it was a reach into the start line. Normally, this would cause the race to be postponed while the course is reset, but for whatever reason, this was not the case. I had been pushing a boat end start and with only 1 second to go, drifted slightly over the line, while the race committee was enforcing a black flag start procedure. This ultimately resulted in my disqualification for race 2, along with about 14 other competitors.

After a 2 hour break on shore while I waited for the next start, I sailed back to the start area to prepare for race 3. By this time the wind had shifted about 160 degrees and the temperature had fallen significantly. The line was heavily pin biased and all four NZ boats were positioned at the pin. I took a marginal start, but had the ability to tack early and cross the fleet on port tack. Unfortunately once again, I was identified as being OCS at 15 seconds, in a black flag procedure, resulting once again in my disqualification. This I could not believe as I felt as though I was always too far from the line but unfortunately this was the case.

This is not ideal so early in the regatta, and I must say I was quite heartbroken, but luckily we have the ability to discard our two worst results, providing we complete a certain number of races. So I am praying that we have the weather to get the required races in. I can only forget about the first day and look towards the future.

Day 2 provided a bit of a turn-around. The wind didn’t fill in until nearly 4 o’clock; meaning only one race could be started today. The wind never climbed over 4 knots, which was moving to my favour once again. Given my weight, I struggle to compete in mid-range winds against smaller, lighter competitors. But the winds today provided me with a chance to pull out some roll-tacks, something the Dutch competitors seem to struggle with.

I once again started conservatively, as not to risk another disqualification. After a few swift tacks, I had a clean line almost to the windward mark, rounding in sixth. The winds favoured the right side downwind and I managed to pull in one more place downwind. On the next downwind, I was in third place and rapidly running down the sailor in second when the race was unexpectedly abandoned. There was a little controversy over this, as given we still had 30 min left in the time limit, it was more than likely the race could have been shortened. This was a bit unfortunate for me given I was in a decent position but there is little we can do.

So, despite a terrible regatta start, I am on the up and up. I am still hopeful and as always, I appreciate everyone’s support. A big thank you to The New Zealand International Yachting Trust, Yachting Developments, Harken NZ, Donaghys Industries, the Kerikeri Cruising Club, Kerikeri Community Fitness and all my friends and supporters back home.

PS: A weather dance back home would be appreciated

For more on the regatta go to the official regatta website http://www.splashworlds.org/

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