Perth 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships - The 49er, Women’s 470, Men’s RS:X and Laser classes started their title campaigns in the second week of competition
It was the coldest day yet. The locals were all complaining and it was 25 degrees. I have to admit even the hardy Canadian's noticed it was not hot. I am sure this will sound funny back home but the difference between 25 and 35 is noticeably 'cool'.
It was overcast all day with periodic storm cells passing over the courses. The Doctor never came calling today. The wind remained mostly off shore although it did tend to shift to a more southerly direction later in the day. Sailing with this wind direction combined with the storm cells, made for relatively shifty and somewhat unpredictable sailing. This is not what the sailors have become accustomed to over the last few weeks.
There are two Canadian Teams in the Star class.
Richard Clarke and Tyler Bjorn slipped a little for seventh overall yesterday to 10th today. They are still very much in the hunt. I watched race three (first race today) and was impressed with how they came back from high teens to finish 10th.
Close on their heels in the first race today were Canadians Stuart Hebb and Mike Wolfs who bagged a 14th. Mike was the Silver Medalist in Athens, sailing with Ross MacDonald.
The second race for the Star saw building wind and continued patchiness at the top mark. Neither Canadian boat faired as well as in the first race today. Clarke/Bjorn were 18th and Hebb/Wolfs 28th.
Clarke/Bjorn bent their mast on a downwind leg in race four. I am not sure that it affected their result in that race but they did decide it was prudent to replace it with a different mast. Fortunately, their coach Steve Mitchell is a Star expert and he had the bend mast in a bag and the new one ready to step by the time the boys were changed into dry clothes.
Clarke/Bjorn are still very much on their way to their goal of qualification for the Olympics Games. They must finish 10 overall and ahead of Hebb/ Wolfs to guarantee Canada and themselves a spot in London. There are spots for the top 11 Countries up for grabs here in the Star class. Clarke/Bjorn currently sit ninth country with six races to go plus the medal race for the top 10.
Canada has two men in the RSX Men's fleet.
The top ranked Canadian, Zachary Plavsic has a solid day with a fourth and a ninth. Team mate David Hayes also sailed well with a ninth and 12th.
There are 89 competitors in the RSX class and they have been split into fleets of 44 and 45.
Zac sits in 11th overall and Hayes in 20th. It was windier than expected and this was to the Canadian sailors' liking. Tomorrow looks like more of the same so this bodes well for qualifying two Canadians in the Championship fleet later in the week.
There are five 49er teams from Canada. The fleet of 67 have been divided into two qualification fleets of 33 and 34. They will sail a total of 14 races plus the Medal race. The skiffs are so much faster than all the other Olympic Classes that they have them sail more races. The races tend to be 25-30 minutes rather that 40-45 min. This keeps them doing lots of maneuvers which are challenging on these highly unstable platforms.
Our most consistent performers in this skiff class are Gordon Cook of Toronto and Hunter Lowden of Vancouver. Gordon Cook sailed in the 49'er for Canada with Ben Remocker in 2008 (Bejing). Their coach Jason Rhodes was very impressed with their speed today saying that 'they are clearly one of the fastest boats in the fleet.' Rhodes feels that with the speed they showed today, they should be able to manage a 10-15th overall here easily despite having not such a good day today. In race two Cook/Lowden were clearly leading the pack about 1/3 of the way up the first beat. A late shift caught them off guard but they still rounded sixth at the top mark. Uncharacteristically they had trouble bearing off around the mark. It looked like the jib sheet got stuck in the cleat and they nearly dumped. This put them back quite a bit and they battled to get back to 18th.
Cook/Lowden are sitting 30th overall but with 11 more races, there is lots of time to catch up. They had a 16, 18 and 18 today. They need to finish top 10 to lock up the Olympic sport for Canada but any Canadian team finishing within the top 14 countries (not including GBR) will earn Canada a spot at the Games in London and the Canadian selection process moves to the 2012 World Championships.
Close behind are the fleet favorites Johnathan Lada and Daniel Inkpen. They hail from Newfoundland and are popular in the fleet as they are sponsored by Screech Rum. They are sitting in 35th overall with a 18, 20, and 19. This young pair has come a long way in the last three years and will be a team to watch as the event develops. They have a very real shot at Olympic selection, especially if Cook/Lowden do not sew it up with a top 10 overall finish here - at least they will keep Cook/Lowden honest.
The other Canadian 49'er teams are:
Robert Frost and Tom Arbuckle now sitting 51st overall
Mat Dubreucq and Trevor Parech now sitting 54th
Billy Gooderham and Ian Hogan in 55th
All of these other teams have at one time or another challenged Cook/Lowden and seems to be going faster than today's results would suggest. This will be an interesting fleet to watch once the Canadians get over their day on jitters.
Canada has four representatives in the Laser fleet. This fleet has 147 entries and has been split into three fleets of 49.
Sitting in 30th overall is Chris Dold. Chris had a good day today with a third and a 20th showing that he has what it takes to be at the top of this extremely tough fleet. Close behind is David Wright in 33rd, who scored a 16 and a 9, also very respectable scores. Lots of sailing left with eight more races plus the medal race scheduled.
The other two Canadians are:
Lee Parkhill now sitting 84th
Thomas Ranshaw now sitting 91st
Canada has only one team in the 470 Women's class competing here. The team of Dana Archibald and Karen Dexter are sitting 40th out of 48 after two races. This is a young pair and they are consistently improving. They race very competently around the course but are obviously suffering from a speed problem. This takes several years of international competition to overcome and without a strong class in Canada they will need to start attending more international events like this to get their speed in the ball park.
Hoping for warmer weather tomorrow but it looks like we will get more of the uncharacteristic weather again tomorrow. Wind Athletes Canada website Perth 2011 website