SAP 505 World Championships - Paul Mitchell and Sam Haines, International 505 Class sailors, will need to display tactical awareness when they contest the first race of the world championship off Hamilton Island, on Australia's Great barrier Reef next Saturday (March 26).
The talented tropical sailing team who have practiced and raced extensively possess an excellent understanding of their home course sailing elements which prevail off Airlie Beach but like all of their 85 rivals representing nine countries can expect to face a supreme test of individual crew skills on the tricky Whitsunday Island waters.
Skipper Paul Mitchell contested the 2009 SAP World championship in San Francisco with his brother Dale and has a good understanding on what is required to improve his international ranking.
But judging by the standard of the fleet which includes the past two World championship Gold Medallists Mike Martin/ Jeff Nelson (United States) and the defending title holders Wolfgang Hunger and Julien Kleiner (Germany) plus Olympians and World champions suggests there will be a very high standard of racing before the 2011 SAP World champions are crowned on April 1st.
A recent swing in the wind from the record wet monsoon season to warm land breezes and humidity in the mid seventies to low eighties suggests the wind will be spiced with changes in direction and velocity adding a further test which promises to sort the best from the rest.
Naturally Wolfgang Hunger who proved he can adapt to unfamiliar racing conditions following his win with Julien Kleiner in Denmark last year and the specialist American fresh wind racing team of Mike Martin and Jeff Nelson deserve to be listed among the title favourites.
But they too will be required to be on the pace to consistently finish in the top ten to keep the championship medal prospects alive.
This is never easy and it could become a tactical nightmare should the expected unstable sailing conditions prevail.
However both past World champions will naturally command respect but face a test of tactical ‘torture’ to keep the bows of their dinghies ahead of the rest.
There is absolutely no joy for the crew who make the simplest mistake with the lost seconds proving the difference between becoming a title challenger or finishing back in the pack.
Mike Martin has a simple philosophy –sail smart, fast and where possible keep focused on winning.
The 2009 World champion has experienced the winning feeling on his home waters of San Francisco and deserves to be listed as a major contender however he and crew Jeff Nelson will need to bring their best game plan to what promises to be a tactical minefield.
It would be unwise not to list them and the German crew as the top two but they should be warned that Australian Olympic 49er sailors Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen have the proven World championship medal count in other classes that suggests they could add the SAP 2011 World 505 Gold to their treasure chest.
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