SAP 505 World Championship day 5, Hamilton Island, Queensland.
Two more races were sailed at the 2011 SAP 505 World Championship today. Finally the wind god of Hamilton Island played ball, offering up superb 15-20 knot winds, some great surfing waves and brilliant action that has bought a few competitors much closer to the leading Germans.
An excellent but by no means easy win for Mike Holt and Carl Smit (USA) in Race 3, and a double celebration for Californian Holt, who celebrated his 43rd birthday yesterday, but as he explained: 'It’s today in California – so I’m taking that with our win.'
Race 4 winners, Sandy Higgins/Paul Marsh, along with American’s Howie Hamilin/Andy Zinn and Luke Molloy/Jim Turner (GBR) were the last three boats Holt and Smit had to wear down to cross the line in first, surfing big waves and overcoming shifty unstable winds along the way.
'It was a tough race,' admitted Smit who with Holt finished World’s runners-up in 2009. 'Crews kept swapping places back and forth in the top eight or so. The pressure kept changing and we just tried to keep grinding the opposition down.
'Mike had to hike so hard going up the last beat where we got ahead of a couple of boats when we picked the right hand shift, then coming down the run we got the last of them and got away a bit,' Smit said.
'It (the pointscore) is so much closer now, because Ted (Conrads) and Brian (Haines) came second in the second race and Sandy Higgins won the second race, so it moves everyone up closer to Wolfgang (Hunger) and Julien (Kleiner), the German series leaders.
In fact, only three points separates the top three, with Hunger/Kleiner leading Holt/Smit by two points and Higgins Marsh by a further point. The Germans had an ordinary 15th in Race 4, which has been used as their drop, a far cry from the two bullets they scored on Day 1.
South Australians Sandy Higgins and Andrew Chisholm looked set to win Race 3, but as Chisholm explained, 'we stuffed up the third beat, were trying to get leverage, but we went the wrong way and finished third.'
Not to be deterred, the two, whose World’s best was a third on home turf in Adelaide in 2007, led Race 4 from go to whoa.
'We handled the conditions nicely in that one. The breeze had dropped a little, but we did well to hang on in a decent swell and reasonably confused seas,' Chisholm said of the residual effects left from the past few days’ bad weather.
'We had a fairly good hold on the rest of the fleet, but it was close racing all the same,' he allowed.
Like Holt, Chisholm was pleased to be able to close the gap on Hunger and Kleiner. 'It’ll be a much closer series now,' he said smiling.
Howie Hamlin/Andy Zinn, Molloy/Turner and Nathan Outteridge/Iain Jensen (AUS) did enough today to stay in touch with the leaders.
Racing is expected to resume from 10.00am tomorrow morning local time, weather permitting, with two further races planned. www.505sapworldchampionship2011.com/