A stunning mid-race collision has potentially cost British pair Nic Asher and Elliot Willis a serious tilt at their second world title at the 470 Men’s championships at Mordialloc Sailing Club today. Asher and Willis, who started the day in overall second position, collided with Aussie No.2 team Mat Belcher and Nick Behrens in Race 8, and have slipped to sixth with Willis carted off to hospital for precautionary chest x-rays.
Willis, 24, was knocked off his trapeze after he and Asher, on starboard, bore away fearing the Australians would not attempt to avoid a collision.
“We thought they weren’t going to get out of the way so we tried to … they bore away hard and hit me off the wire,” Willis said. “We capsized and we hit them hard enough to take their shroud out, it was pretty bad,” he added.
While Willis was the only one injured, Belcher and Behrens capped off an horrendous day on the water, unable to complete Race 8 due to major boat damage sustained in the collision, which backed up an OCS is Race 7, leaving them flailing at the tail end of the gold fleet.
The Aussie crew sustained a broken mast, shroud and severely bent boom.
“We were trying to cross them on port and bore away to go behind – they did the same so basically we were bow to bow,” a disappointed Belcher said.
Belchers coach Erik Stibbe noted “that as long as the back up mast will do the job, they are experienced enough to deal with it.
At the pointy end of the fleet where racing was much cleaner, Gideon Kliger/Udi Gal (ISR) relished the tougher conditions and winds up to 22 knots, to elevate themselves from 11th to third place overall with a win and third in today’s two races. The Israeli crew finished third at the past two world titles and is not prepared to settle for anything less this time.
“We are aiming at not finishing any worse than third this week,” Gal said. Avoiding all of the carnage, Athens silver medalists and Beijing hopefuls Nick Rogers and Joe Glanfield (GBR), have slipped under the radar and into overall first place on 30 points after a steady fourth and ninth place finish today.
Points are tight at the top of the leader board. Day 3 regatta leaders Gabrio Zandona and Andrea Trani (ITA) fell off the pace today in the heavier going. The lightweight Italians struggled across the line in 22nd and 15th place to slide into outright seventh position on 35 points.
Jam packed in the middle of Rogers and Glanfield and Zandonaand Trani are Onan Barreiros and Aaron Sarmiento (ESP) on 31 points. Kliger and Gal and Ivaro Marinho and Miguel Nunes (POR), are both one point further adrift.
Australian’s Nathan Wilmot and Malcolm Page have moved up the table from 17th to 12th overall following an eighth and fourth today. 470 Men - Leading positions
1 GBR ROGERS, Nicholas GLANFIELD, Joe 6 3 2 1 5 -17 4 9 47pts 30pts
2 ESP BARREIROS RODRÃ?GUEZ, OnÃ¡n SARMIENTO PADILLA, AarÃ³n 3 1 7 5 4 2 9 -20 51 31
3 ISR KLIGER, Gideon GAL, Udi 3 6 15 2 -26 2 1 3 58 32
4 POR MARINHO, Ã?lvaro NUNES, Miguel 5 1 10 3 -15 9 2 2 47 32
5 FRA CHARBONNIER, Nicolas BAUSSET, Olivier 7 6 1 1 -9 5 6 8 43 34
6 GBR ASHER, Nic WILLIS, Elliot 2 2 3 4 3 13 7 -33 67 34
7 ITA ZANDONÃ€, Gabrio TRANI, Andrea 1 2 8 3 3 3 -22 15 57 35
8 FRA LEBOUCHER, Pierre GAROS, Vincent 2 4 1 6 18 5 5 -27 68 41
9 NZL EVANS, Carl BURLING, Peter 10 7 2 9 1 2 -33 14 78 45
10 RUS SHEREMETIEV, Mikhail SHEREMETIEV, Maxim 1 10 10 16 7 1 3 -29 77 48