On Day 3 of the Zhik Nautica Moth World Championship, the 125-strong fleet faced a wide range of conditions that started with a 25-knot 'Peler' and 1-meter waves early in the morning, to a dying 'Ora' late in the afternoon that forced the race committee to shorten the last race. Babbage dominated once again and extended his lead, but the day's story is certainly Anthony Kouton, the 'rookie' from the British Virgin Islands that claims second place overall.
Only the dying breeze at the end of the afternoon could stop Scott Babbage today. The Australian sailor has now a solid grasp on the overall lead, nine points ahead of second- placed Anthony Kotoun from the British Virgin Island. Kotoun might call himself a 'rookie' with 'many hurdles to overcome' but he proved to be a master of the light to moderate Ora, the afternoon breeze on Lake Garda. Feeling comfortable in these conditions, Kotoun pushed Joshua McKnight down to third overall. The top-five is now completed by Bora Gulari and Joe Turner that started finding their form.
The locals say that when the sun rises over the mountains surrounding Lake Garda, the 'Pelèr' kicks in with vengeance. So, with an 8:30am start scheduled, the fleet was prepared to face tough but spectacular conditions off Campione del Garda. There were dozens of capsizes, crashes and swims but when the going gets tough the tough get going. In the Yellow fleet, Babbage led from start to finish while in the Blue fleet a fight between Joshua McKnight, Joe Turner and Rob Gough saw the latter scoring his first victory so far.
When the race committee gave the signal for the second race, the Pelèr was already fading and shifting. Although still fresh, the lighter breeze and the flatter seas didn't provide the same amount of excitement. Once again, Scott Babbage dominated the Yellow fleet with Chris Rashley coming second behind him. Although the young British sailor hasn't scored any victory his consistent performance has allowed him to make inroads in the rankings and climb into the top five.
After a break ashore in order to get the 'Pelèr' out of the way and wait for the 'Ora' to build up, the fleet took to the water for two more races.
For the Yellow fleet, the third race of the day was marked by the match race between Scott Babbage and Andrew McDougall. McDougall built an immense lead over the rest of the fleet at the first weather mark but meter by meter, Babbage closed in on him and won the race on the finish line.
In the fourth and last race of the day the shifting and dying breeze made it necessary to shorten it at the bottom mark. Joe Turner dominated the Blue fleet from the outset while in the Yellow fleet Babbage had his worst result of the week so far. Although he was third at the top mark he slipped to eleventh by the finish line.
Although Thursday was initially scheduled to be a lay day, the race committee will try to hold two more qualification races starting at 2pm local time. Once again, the weather forecast is quite similar to what we have seen so far and as a result the Moths will have to fly in a light to moderate Ora breeze.
Scott Babbage (AUS), on his performance: 'We had some very good racing in the morning. The first race of the afternoon was a very close one with Andrew McDougall and I’m not sure whether I beat him or beat me. It was too close to tell. In the last race the breeze died at the top. A few boats got away and then the race committee decided to finish the race at the bottom, so there wasn’t any opportunity. I’m satisfied with my overall performance and I find the morning races much more fun than the afternoon ones. The afternoon races are pretty painful but the morning races are great fun. I hope we do more of these. '
Scott Babbage (AUS), on whether he’s happy Nathan Outteridge is in San Francisco for the America’s Cup races: '[Laughs] No, it would have been good to have him here, he’s always a good competitor and it’s good when you take races off him. He’s good fun to sail against and I beat him in the Australian nationals, the first regatta I beat him in 10 years. That was good but I think that if he did the Worlds he would definitely be hard to beat.'
Anthony Kotoun (ISV): 'I had a good day. The morning winds are usually not my strength and I’m not as good in the waves. It showed in the first where I lead at the weather mark and then downwind went for a bunch of swims. I gained boats on the upwind but then lost on the downwind. I still finished tenth, which was much better than I thought. In the second race of the morning it got light, I sailed well and finished second. This afternoon upwind was my strength and I got a second and a third.
I’m very, very, very satisfied with my second place overall so far. My goal here was to finish in the top 10. I’ve never done a world championship in the Moth before, I’ve been sailing this boat for year and a half, so I was hoping for a top ten. I thought a top five would be possible if I had a really good regatta. I realize I am still a rookie and I have some hurdles to overcome but these conditions are mine. If it gets out of this range I don’t expect to keep this train rolling but for now I’ll take it.'
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