Perth 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships - Gold fleet racing continued for the Laser, Men’s RS:X and 49er classes today, Thursday 15th December.
The wind was not quite a fickle as it was yesterday. It was still off shore or a little side on shore coming from the South, South East at 8-12 knots with less wild variation in wind strength. Yesterday it was 4-15 kts and fluctuated through that full range often.
Stars had a day off today. Race nine and 10 tomorrow will determine who is in the medal race. All Richard and Tyler need to do is finish in the top 10 and they are going to the Games.
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The 49'er fleet has been split into three fleets (Championship, Silver and Bronze), with only one race for each fleet today.
I was out with coach Jason Rhodes today to watch the Silver Fleet race. Unfortunately neither of the two top ranked Canadian 49'ers managed to qualify for the Championship Fleet. Today was another tough day for Canada. Gordon and Hunter had a good start at the left end of the line. This put them closest to shore. It sure looked like the left side had more breeze before the start but with about a two minutes to go a puff started to fill in more to the right and by the time they were 3/4 of the way up the first leg, the wind had also shifted 30 degrees to the right, putting them at the back of the pack. They came back to about sixth pace in the next two legs but then ran out of wind on the right side of the course on the last leg and were passed by about seven boats. It was hard to watch. I know none of the 49'er team here are pleased with their performance and least of all Gord and Hunter who really should have made it to the championship fleet no problem. Sailing is a funny sport that way. There is a pecking order but it is more frequently upset than in other sports.
I think this was a case of Gord and Hunter having conservative style of sailing that seeks to predict what will happen in the next two to three minutes. More often than not this is exactly they type of approach that is required because even with a 70% accuracy rate one can win a lot of regattas if the speed and boat handling are there. The conditions we have had simply do not allow for this sort of accuracy and the strategy has to me more about doing whatever is right in the moment without trying to anticipate things because the patterns are just not predictable enough on the micro level necessary for sailboat racing. Giving up the chance at a small gain now to position for a bigger gain later usually works but not here over the last few days. We have had a classic type of summer condition in a place dominated by sea breeze (the Doctor) fights with the gradient wind which has been from the South-Southeast. This causes sudden changes in direction and velocity as one breeze overcomes the other and then back again without warning or predictable timing.
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The Canadian Olympic Trails for the 49'er now go to the Worlds in Croatia in May because no one finished top 10 here. To be selected, the team with the top finish in Croatia must also qualify the Country by finishing within the top 19 Countries there (excluding GBR). This should not be difficult considering that Gord and Hunter were 15th here and have had one of their worst results in years. I am sure they will be in top form in Croatia.
The Laser Fleet has also been split into three with the top 49 boats in the Championship fleet. Canada has only two sailors in the Championship fleet. With two races completed today, Canada did not have a great day, both Dold and Wright sailed their discard (worst race) today. Despite this Dold moved up one position from 23rd overall to 22nd and Wright stayed at 32nd. With two races left, they ca both move up considerably but neither one will make the medal race meaning that their Olympic Trials will include a combination of overall results this event and the Miami Olympic Classes Regatta in January. The race is on between Dold and Wright. Wright needs to make up 10 places and Dold wants to extend his current 10 point lead in the Trials.
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With both RS:X Men's teams in the Championship fleet and Zac Plasvic still in a position to qualify for the top 10, the battle is on. David Hayes will want to do everything he legally can do to keep Zac from finishing in the top 10, so that their Olympic Trails gets extended to the Worlds this spring. David managed to force Zac into fouling him at the start of race seven and Zac had to do a penalty turn. Hard to say if this impacted his result in the race but it may have been just what Hayes needed to force the Trials to the Worlds in Cadiz, Spain in three months time.
Currently Zac is sitting 14th overall, having slipped back from 10th two days ago. Today he had a 10, 17 and 13 and Hayes had a 18, 21 and 42. Hayes climbed the overall standings today from 32nd yesterday to 28th today. Zac is in the 11th country position which is easily within the 28 Countries that will qualify for the Games at this event.
Plasvic will need to make up 14 points on 10th place, currently held by Julian Bontemps of France. This is not an insurmountable lead, but Zac needs two races in the top five to do it, and even that may not be quite enough - a tall order. He has shown he is capable of these sort of results in the regatta already. Hayes will be following him closely. The RSX fleet will not sail tomorrow. They have the day off and complete the series on Saturday. If the Doctor returns by Saturday money will be on Zac to get into the top 10 easily, but two top five's will not be easy. If the fluky conditions persist there is no telling what might happen.
Tomorrow watch for the final two fleet races for the Star Class. Clarke/Bjorn are poised to finish top 10 (currently in eighth) and lock up their Olympic berth and qualify for the medal race.
Well it sure does not feel like Christmas here. I have attached a picture of the only public Christmas decoration I have seen in Fremantle. Pretty lonely looking :(
<:img Alt_DSCF00141.jpg :> Wind Athletes Canada website Perth 2011 website