Perth 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships second day of racing for the Star keelboat class was held today, Monday 12th December. Olympic Champions and defending world titleholders Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson retained their early lead after another solid display in Fremantle, Australia.
Percy and Simpson, who were crowned 2010 World Champions almost 23 months ago when the class World Championships were held in January of that year in Rio de Janeiro, topped the leaderboard after their first day of racing on Sunday, and by the end of the day on Monday they had extended to a 12 point lead after four races.
The Beijing Olympic Champions picked up 5,4 from their two races today, with helmsman Percy admitting it was a physically tough day.
'We had a good day today. We weren’t going very well but we hung in and fought hard. My body’s a bit bruised and battered for it but we managed to get a couple of counters, so that’s good.
As with a number of their Skandia Team GBR teammates, Percy and Simpson have already gained selection for their 2012 Olympics. They still one eye on retaining their world title out in Perth, but are using the event as part of their Games preparation as well.
'It’s the first proper test for our new boat – there’s still a bit of work to do,' Percy explained.
Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson, Star - Perth 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships - © Richard Langdon/Skandia Team GBR Click Here to view large photo
We’re not in the top five or ten boats upwind for speed but we’re fighting hard and we’re quick downwind together as a partnership which I think is a real strength for us and we’re getting away with it at the moment. But we’ve got a lot of work to do and we can certainly make some big improvements in upwind speed over the winter.
'There’s a long way to go. We’re not super quick so confident would be going too far, but we’ll just keep battling to the end.'
Skandia Team GBR’s crews had a good opening day in 470 women’s class, with Penny Clark and Katrina Hughes sitting in third overall and Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark in eighth after two races.
Clark and Hughes led the first race from start to finish, and finished two minutes ahead of the second-placed Russian boat, before going on to pick up a tenth in the second race of the day.
'It was a really good day,' said 22-year-old Hughes. '[In the first race] we didn’t get cleanly off the start but managed to get out on to the right shifts, got the right side, got in at the windward mark, had the perfect first downwind and that was it after that.
'The second race was quite a tough one actually – it was a little bit frustrating as the wind was pretty shifty and patchy and we didn’t quite get the right side of it but it was good enough for a first day so we’re happy with that.'
Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark, the pair selected to represent Great Britain at the Olympics next summer, were equally happy with their opening day.
'We were really pleased with today,' said Mills. 'We had some horrendous windward marks rounding today, especially in the first race – it was a lot easier counting the boats behind us at that point! But we’re always good at coming back through the fleet and we proved that again today so we’re really happy.'
Mills admits that their 2012 selection has affected their approach to these World Championships but is insistent that they still want to make their mark in the fleet at this event.
'If we hadn’t been selected then this would have been another peak event for us this year but instead we’ve managed to get in a bit of downtime before properly building up for the Olympics next year.
'We haven’t quite done everything we would have like to have done before this event, but we felt it was much more important to have a bit of time off to make sure we were properly ready for next year rather than make sure we were ready for this.
'But it’s a World Championship at the end of the day and we want to do the best we can, and we’ll go out there and try to win.'
Monday also saw the first day of World Championship action for the 49er class, Skandia Team GBR’s sailors had a mixed opening day. After three races, Dave Evans and Ed Powys are poised in eighth, John Pink and Rick Peacock ninth and Dylan Fletcher and Alain Sign 13th after two good opening races followed by a tough third outing.
There is concern, however, for Ben Rhodes who sustained an agonising back injury during the second race of the day, and made what his helmsman Morrison described as a 'Herculean effort' to finish the day’s scheduled racing. Rhodes received physio treatment on the water between the second and third races before returning further treatment post racing. The pair’s ability to continue these Championships will be determined on Tuesday.
Lucy Macgregor, Annie Lush and Kate Macgregor have now won nine of their 11 repechage matches to keep on track for the women’s match racing quarter-finals, while Nick Dempsey had a day he’d rather forget in the RS:X men’s windsurfing event with results of 8,16 to open his regatta.
Nick Thompson is seventh overall and Paul Goodison 18th after two races in the Laser fleet. Skandia Team GBR website