SAP 505 World Championship 2011 and it was the toughest day yet at the event being held at Hamilton Island, Queensland.
In Race 5, an Aussie crew led from the start, only to have the race stolen from them in the dying minutes.
One thing is certain now; the series will rest on the outcome of one race, or not, tomorrow. It will be between the reigning world champions, Wolfgang Hunger/Julien Kleiner from Germany, Mike Holt/Carl Smit from the USA and Sandy Higgins/Paul Marsh from Australia.
This afternoon, Hunger was praying the breeze would not be too much tomorrow. 'In Race 6 today, there was already too much wind for us,' he said. 'My crew is quite light for the boat and Mike Holt is much faster in the bigger winds, they suit it better. Maybe there is too much wind to race tomorrow?'
'We got stuck on the wrong side of a shift coming out in the first race, but we fought our way back to fourth. That is not how we like it,' Hunger added. 'We can do better than that.
'In the second race, we played it a little safe in setting spinnakers, and even then we ripped one all the way down. We saw others in trouble and we didn’t want that to happen to us,' admitted Hunger, who is currently carrying a worst score of 15th.
Holt, on the other hand, relishes the chance of sailing in big winds again. 'The second race was very shifty and much windier; perfect sailing conditions. We led from start to finish, but we didn’t pick all the shifts right, we won on sheer boat speed,' he said.
However, their winning margin was sizeable, so much so, that Holt said, 'we couldn’t see who finished second, we were around 600 metres in front of them and the visibility was poor.'
Holt and Smit finished bridesmaid to Mike Martin/Jeff Nelson at the 2009 Worlds in San Francisco, and does not want that scenario again. 'Here we are again. I’m praying for a different outcome this time, and I’m praying we can race tomorrow,' Holt said, knowing winds of up to 30 knots were predicted.
'We’ll sit down and do the numbers tonight and see if Sandy Higgins is in contention as well. We know it will take everything in our power to win the Championship. Tactically we have a slight advantage, as Wolfgang has a 15th as his drop, ours is just a sixth.'
Higgins and Marsh are in a similar position, their best Worlds result being a third in 2007 when it was held on their home turf in Adelaide. They are hoping to go one better at least too.
Back to today’s two races, Race Officer Kevin Wilson had hold off starting on time at 10.00am, because there was little breeze on the course area and it was swirling in all directions amidst rain that bucketed down all day, making life unpleasant for anyone on the water.
When he could get a start in, Wilson had to abandon Race 5 shortly after. There had been a shift to the right and a couple of boats had run into the pathfinder’s minder boat. Before he had a chance to start again, a handful of boats retired with sail damage, broken rudder, etc., caused by big swell, tide and confused seas.
Under tow by the power boat qualia, one 505 turned turtle, then the tow rope got caught in qualia’s propeller, necessitating a rescue boat to go and help both. The day did not get any better, but eventually race five got underway just after 12.00pm.
The Danish crew of Jan Saugmann and Morten Ramsbaek (or 'Fast Danes' as they were called on the press boat) stole the race in the closing stages after Kevin Cameron and Josh Mortensen from Australia had led around the entire course and had actually increased their lead over the Danes and Sandy Higgins/Paul Marsh, who finished the race third.
'I saw them (the Danes) gybe out, but we got a freaky gust and couldn’t go with them, then we hit a light spot and that was it. It was disappointing not to win our first ever World’s race after leading the whole way, but there’s nothing wrong with second,' Cameron, from Brisbane said tonight.
'Josh had never sailed a 505 until December and he did a brilliant job in very trying weather,' Cameron praised his childhood friend. 'We really enjoyed the 15 knot easterly, but the pressure was erratic and it was shifty,' he conceded.
By Race 6, winds were at 20 knots, visibility was poor and the seaway worse. More attrition as the likes of second placed Luke Molloy/Jim Turner (GBR) broke their boom, and shortly after, Nathan Outteridge/Iain Jensen had a spill in while in second and dropped to 22nd, but stay in sixth and seventh place overall respectively.
And so it was that Hunger/Kleiner came to finish second, which had been so unlucky for those before them, but saved the Germans from dropping to second place overall, as their nemesis, Mike Holt/Carl Smit won that race. Currently, the Germans lead their US rivals by three points.
South Australians Higgins and Marsh finished the race in seventh place, leaving them four points behind Hot/Smit.
Race Officer Kevin Wilson has plans for one race only tomorrow, the final day of the 2011 SAP 505 World Championship. 'It’ll be one race with an upwind finish on Course 1 and we’ll have a warning signal at 10.00am. If it’s too windy, we can always move to the western course.
Current forecasts have winds at around 30 knots, but as we have seen this past 10 days, the forecast can’t be depended on. Results to date
Rank Country Skipper Crew R1 R2 R3 R4 R5 R6 Total Nett
1 GER Wolfgang Hunger Julien Kleiner 1 1 3 (15) 4 2 26 11
2 USA Mike Holt Carl Smit 3 (6) 1 3 6 1 20 14
3 AUS Sandy Higgins Paul Marsh 2 (7) 5 1 3 7 25 18
4 USA Howie Hamlin Andy Zinn 4 (10) 6 4 8 3 35 25
5 USA Ted Conrads Brian Haines 7 2 10 2 9 (11) 41 30
6 GBR Luke Molloy Jim Turner 14 11 2 5 5 (86 DNF) 123 37
7 AUS Nathan Outteridge Iain Jensen 9 3 7 8 11 (22) 60 38
8 GBR Ian Pinnell Charles Dwyer 8 13 8 10 (86 DNF) 5 130 44
9 DEN Jan Saugmann Morten Ramsbaek (86 DNF) 9 17 16 1 4 133 47
10 USA Mike Martin Geoff Ewenson (23) 4 22 9 10 8 76 53 www.505sapworldchampionship2011.com