Perth 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships third day continued with fleet racing in the Laser Radial, Finn, RS:X and 470 classes.
Today saw much better wind conditions. The Doctor arrived on schedule and delivered up to 20 knots of wind with short choppy sea conditions. A great day for dinghy sailing here today.
All fleets sailed three races today to finish with the qualification round. Now the top 1/2 and bottom 1/2 of each fleet will be split. If a team is not in the top 1/2 it is not possible to improve beyond the mid fleet marker.
In the Radial Class with 102 starters this means that veteran Lisa Ross will not be able to improve her current standing of 52nd overall. Only the top 51 boats make it to the 'championship fleet'. This is not the end of her Olympic dreams. Ross, a two time Olympian will have another chance to qualify in Miami in January. The Radial Olympic Trials consists of a combination of the final finish position her and the final finish position at the Miami Olympic Classes Regatta. Lisa is a fighter. She will have to set her sights on winning silver fleet and hope she can reel the others back in at the Miami event.
Clare Merry, of Toronto, had the best day for the Canadian Radial Team with finishes of 5, 15 and 12. A very solid performance which has her sitting in 22nd overall. With her performances steadily improving as the regatta goes on, Clare has an excellent chance of cracking into the top 20 and maybe even the top 15. She is well within range of qualifying Canada for a berth at the London Games, but she will be hoping to keep widening the spread between her and the other Canadian girls to keep her advantage in the internal Canadian Olympic Trials. In order to automatically qualify herself for the Games, Clare Merry would have to move into the top 10 overall. This is unlikely. The good news is that 29 countries will qualify for Olympic Berths here and with an overall position of 22nd and 21st country, the prospects for Canada qualifying are looking very strong.
Clare's next closest rivals are Danielle Dube of Halifax and Isabella Bertold of Vancouver now standing 35th and 39th overall. Clare Merry's sister Ingrid Merry has also qualified for the gold fleet.
Chris Cook continues to impress the young guys with his remarkable comeback. Sitting 16th overall now and in the 12th country spot, he is on track to qualifying the Country and possibly locking in a spot for himself for the London Games at this event. He will need to move up to top 10 overall by the end of the regatta. 18 countries will earn a spot at the Games based on results at this event. This is well within grasp for the Canadian Finn team
The Finn fleet saw the strongest wind today of all the fleets. With only two months of sailing under his belt after three years of retirement, it was impressive that Chris can still 'hang' with the best in the world. With finishes of 7, 15 and 9 he demonstrated the will of a true champion. The Finn is the most physically demanding of the Olympic boats. The 125 sqft mainsail is more sail area than most double handed boats with two sails in the 15-18 ft size. I true handful for the solo sailor. Chris managed to avoid fading in the third race today although he reports that he is 'feeling it now' and that there are 'significant fitness issues he needs to address after this event'. 'There is no doubt that lack of fitness is holding me back.' For now the goal is to qualify the country. There is still time to get fit for London next summer.
Greg Douglas had a slightly better day than Chris finishing 5, 18 and 8. Greg has come a long way with is sailing this season. He is currently sitting 21st overall and the only other Canadian Finn sailor to qualify for gold fleet. He will have his sights set on improving his overall position and be ready to qualify the country if Chris starts to fade. Until two months ago Chris was coaching Greg and the Finn sailors. There must be a great deal of pride to see Greg doing so well and actually mixing it up with his mentor on the race course.
The most impressive performance by far was Nikola Girke. She moved from 52nd overall after day one all the way to 18th today with a 8, 9 and 3. Given the wind conditions it was surprising she did not do even better, but the wind tends to be lighter on the RSX course which is closer to shore and it was only the last race when it got up to 15-16 knots. A fall at the windward mark in race one made it difficult to catch up, but she is well on her way to qualifying the Country and still has a definite shot at top 10 which would lock in a spot for her at the Olympics. The wind forecast is for even more wind tomorrow so the stars are aligning for Nikola. The other good news is that they have scheduled three races in the RSX for tomorrow so she will be able to take full advantage of the stronger winds. This scheduling will allow the women to have a day off before the final two days of the event. It seems like Nikola is settling in after getting rattled by light wind and equipment failures on day one. The other Canadian, Dominique Vallee, did not fair so well and will not qualify for the Gold fleet and currently sits in 53rd overall.
Another success story in the 470. Luke Ramsay and Mike Leigh pulled off one of their best days yet since starting to sail in the 470 class with a 6,9 and 23 today to put them in 27th position overall and 18th country. 19 countries in the 470 class will be selected for berths at the Olympic games in London. Mike and Luke are only four points from the 16th country, so qualification is within their grasp. They will advance to the gold fleet tomorrow, for which only one race is scheduled.
The amazing rise through the ranks of the 470 fleet is truly an amazing story. Last January the pair each decided to give up sailing the single handed Laser class. Mike had been dominant in the Laser class and amongst the top 10 in the world for years. Luke was also a force to be reckoned with in the Laser although suffered from being too small for the boat and more of a natural 470 helmsman size. Mike had the decision to stop sailing the Laser made for him. A long standing back injury was simply not improving. The medical experts all agreed that the movements and posture of a 470 crew, which spends most of the time in a trapeze harness rather than hiking, would be fine for his back. It seems to have proven to be true and Mike is well on his way to his second Olympics. Wind Athletes Canada website Perth 2011 website