It was certainly a tricky day 4 for the 125-strong Moth fleet contesting the 2012 Zhik Nautica Moth World Championships on Lake Garda, Italy.
Given his performance so far this week, Babbage would have needed a poor last day to put his lead in jeopardy. However, the three-way tie for second place between Joshua McKnight, Bora Gulari and Anthony Kotoun promises three days of intense and exciting races.
Although the African heat wave has now receded, day temperatures are still too high for the afternoon Ora breeze to build up and let the Moths fly on flat waters with the typical 15 to 18 knots. As a result, the breeze comes later and is much more unstable and, obviously, trickier. However, the Moths are always spectacular and exciting to watch.
The first race got underway with 10 knots of breeze and Bora Gulari showed his form and dominated the Yellow fleet, finishing ahead of Babbage. In the Blue fleet, Australian Joshua McKnight confirmed he's an up-and-coming young gun, scoring his third victory in nine races. Anthony Kotoun, that still likes to call himself a 'rookie', was close behind.
The second race took place in the fading Ora that once again forced the race committee to shorten it. It was a tactically tough race with big wind holes everywhere. Still, once again, Bora Gulari led the Yellow fleet. Was he lucky? They say that luck is when preparation meets opportunity. Gulari must certainly have had both. Another young gun, Great Britain's Chris Rashley, was first in the Blue fleet, scoring his first victory this week. Despite this being his first world championship, the current UK Moth Champion has shown remarkable consistence, never finishing worse than seventh.
The boats will now be split into two fleets, based on their ranking in the qualifying series, with the top half going into the Gold fleet and the remaining yachts in the Silver fleet. Each skipper’s rank in the qualifying series will be counted as a non-discardable race score for the final series and his score for the regatta will be the total of his final series race scores together with the non-discardable qualifying series rank.
As a result, going into the finals, the score table isn't reset to zero but Babbage's advantage will be no more than a few points over his closest competitors, exactly what we need for another three day of red-hot racing off Campione del Garda.
The schedule calls for 9 races in the final series on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Friday’s races will start, weather allowing, at 2pm local time under conditions that are expected to be very similar to what the Moths have experienced so far this week.
Bora Gulari (USA) said 'I had a good day with two wins thanks to a bit of luck and a bit of skills. My end goal is to win this one. A few days ago I stated my goal was to finish in the top five because I wanted to be humble but after listening to all the Australians claiming they wanted to win I will also state that my end goal is to win the worlds!'
Chris Rashley (GBR) said 'We are not really anywhere into week, we just finished the qualifying series. We had four days, we missed one and we finished the qualifying series with some good races but all the real racing will take place now in the gold fleet.
'I’ve had some races I could have done better but across the board I’m really happy. These are my first worlds and I’m well inside the top ten going into the final series. So, I’m quite happy with my performance so far. My goal now is to sail as well as I can, start well, be fast, hopefully not make too many mistakes and we’ll see how it goes when it comes to the end of the week.'
2012 Zhik Nautica Moth World Championships – Top 10 results after 9 races (2 discards):
Merged results from the two fleets (Blue and Yellow) 1. Scott Babbage (AUS), 1+1+1+1+1+1+(11)+2+(6)=8 2. Joshua McKnight (AUS), (6)+1+1+2+4+3+(12)+1+5=17 3. Bora Gulari (USA), 2+2+(7)+(14)+4+4+3+1+1=17 4. Anthony Kotoun (ISV), 3+3+2+(11)+2+2+3+2+(9)=17 5. Chris Rashley (GBR), 4+(7)+4+4+2+5+(7)+3+1=23 6. Joe Turner (AUS), (9)+(9)+2+3+3+5+1+3+9=26 7. Andrew McDougall (AUS), 2+(8)+5+7+(21)+2+6+4+5=31 8. Julian Salter (AUS), 7+4+3+7+(12)+1+8+(60 DNC)+2=32 9. Jason Paul Belben (GBR), (60 DNF)+(10)+6+3+3+10+2+6+2=32 10. Francesco Bianchi (ITA), 3+6+4+(16)+6+6+(35)+5+3=33