On day seven of the ISAF Sailing World Championships in Perth, there wasn’t a spare seat to be had in the grandstand with spectators as close as possible to the Centre Course on Bathers Bay in Fremantle taking in the on the water action. Amid a respectable sea breeze, the Men’s 470 yachts came in to tack just off the breakwater grandstand to provide a taste of what is in store for local sailing fans in Sunday’s medal races.
Australia’s Mat Belcher and Malcolm Page had the crowd cheering as they shot home to victory in both Gold fleet races of the Men’s 470 competition with local fans chanting 'Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oi, Oi, Oi' every time the Australians sailed by.
While Belcher and Page had a strong lead in race 7, the French duo of Nicholas Charbonnier and Jeremie Mion kept the pressure on all the way to finish second.
'With two races tomorrow we can’t take our foot off the accelerator just yet,' Page said. 'We have lost a 40 point lead before in Netherlands so anything can happen.'
Coming in third were Nick Rogers and Chris Grube from Great Britain, Israel’s Gideon Kliger and Eran Sela finished fourth while Tetsuya Matsunaga and Kimihiko Imamura (JPN) rounded out the top five in race 7.
Race 8 was delayed for around an hour by four general recalls. Eleven teams were disqualified after crossing the line on a black flag start, including the Israeli pair who finished fourth in race 7.
Once racing finally got underway, Belcher and Page went to the front early, leaving the rest of the field to play catch up.
Nic Asher and Elliot Willis (GBR) finished second in front of compatriots Luke Patience and Stuart Bithell.
French pair Pierre Leboucher and Vincent Garos were fourth in race 8, while Austria’s Matthias Schmid and Florian Reichstadter finished fifth.
Men’s 470 Gold and Silver fleet racing is scheduled to continue on Saturday 10th December on the Success course at 1230 local time.
Great Britain dominated the Finn class Gold fleet’s two races on the Leighton course Friday with Ben Ainslie (GBR) recapturing the overall lead.
Ainslie is two points ahead of Giles Scott (GBR) with Pieter-Jan Postma (NED) five points behind in third place.
Race 8 was an all British affair, with Scott first over the line followed by Ainslie, Ed Wright (GBR) and Andrew Mills (GBR). Only a minute separated the top four at the finish.
Ainslie and Scott took out a race each on Friday, but while Ainslie followed his win with a second placing, Scott finished 10th in race 7.
World number one Ed Wright rounds out the top three for Great Britain with second and third placings on Friday. He shares third place overall with Postma (NED), who had a disappointing day compared to his two wins on Thursday.
The four top placed sailors are well clear of the rest of the field, with Jonathan Lobert (FRA), Rafael Trujillo (ESP), Andrew Mills (GBR), and Jonas Hoeg-Christensen (DEN) rounding out the top eight.
Competition in the Finn class is scheduled to continue on Saturday from 1430 local time on the Centre course.
Two more nations qualified for the London 2012 Olympic Games in an action-packed final round-robin stage Women’s Match Racing Friday.
France’s Claire Leroy and the Netherlands’ Mandy Mulder finished one-two, with Great Britain’s Lucy Macgregor in third after a slow start to the day because of a lack of wind in the morning and the Fremantle Doctor sea breeze not delivering its normal potency in the late afternoon.
Leroy and Mulder join Group A winner Anna Tunnicliffe (USA) and runner-up Ekaterina Skudina from Russia as London qualifiers and automatic advancement to the quarter-finals. Leroy was romping home as the group winner until the final two flights when she came unstuck.
By losing to the Netherlands’ Renee Groeneveld in the penultimate round, the competition was set for a nail-biting final flight.
Macgregor (GBR) was upset by Brazil’s Juliana Siqueira Senfft, meaning Macgregor needed to beat Leroy (FRA) in the final flight to also finish with 10 points.
Macgregor completed the task as Leroy picked up a penalty at the start line and trailed Macgregor all the way, trying to pressure her into a penalty of her own, but to no avail.
Mulder lost to Leroy in the 47th flight but went on to win her final three races and throw her name into the mix for the top two, which she achieved with her 10 points.
With the bottom four in the group dropping out and the top two advancing to the quarters, the middle eight crews now enter the repecharges.
The top four have started racing to determine seedings for the quarterfinals with USA-1 and FRA-1 winning through to the final.
Women’s Match Racing is scheduled to continue on Saturday from 1000 local time on the Harbour course.
Saturday promises to be another ideal day for grandstand racing on the Centre course with Laser Radial competition scheduled to continue on Saturday from 1200 and Women’s RS:X from 1445 Perth time.
Perth ISAF Sailing World Championships website