During day 1 of the 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships in Perth, the Women’s Match Racing crews set sail in a staggering 36C heat on Fremantle’s Inner Harbour. AUS-1 (Souter) and the Finnish crew (Lehtinen) led the day’s racing.
Despite difficult conditions and shifty winds as the day progressed, world number one Tunnicliffe (USA-1) sailed true to form, leading her team to win three of three. 'It was extremely tricky, the wind was very very shifty but it provided interesting conditions and kept you on your game,' Tunnicliffe said.
The first flight of the day saw world number five, Nicky Souter guiding AUS-1, in a neck-and-neck battle with Portugal, taking the lead mere metres from the finish line. Likewise, Finland, ranked world number nine, found competition difficult against their first opponent CAN-1, with the finish very close.
World number 10, FRA-2, with Anne Claire le Berre at the helm, could have started better, winning only two of four races, with lower ranked teams beating them over the finish line.
After a morning of hot easterlies, the onset of a cooler mid-afternoon sea breeze delayed the races while the course was moved closer to the ocean and away from the stands.
The afternoon’s first flight, flight five, saw superb tactics from Ferris Choat (CAN-1) land her crew an unexpected win against world number six, Russia.
Tunnicliffe described the afternoon’s conditions as light, but also very puffy and very shifty, saying 'if you got a good start and were able to sail the shifts you had an easier time.'
Women’s Match Racing continues in the Inner Harbour Sunday from 1000 with the beginning of racing in Group B.
Group A flights eight, nine and ten will resume on Monday morning, 5 December.
Silja Lehtinen (FIN) skipper on whether there were any particular teams she had concerns about: 'We didn’t know what to expect so we were very happy about the first day of the regatta. We were concerned about the Portuguese team because they have been doing really well lately, and also the Kiwis because they are another really good team. We treat every race the same. It was a difficult course with a north east wind, which made it crazy and difficult.'
Nicky Souter (AUS) skipper on her crew’s performance with four wins: 'We have had a good start. We had a mixture of all conditions, including three wind shutdowns in one race so we had a bit of everything to test us. The race course was tricky. Our game plan was if we are behind, keep in nice and close and if the opportunity came up, just take it. But we still have challenges ahead like Anna Tunnicliffe (USA).'
Perth ISAF Sailing World Championships website