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Symonite OK Worlds: Steady breeze makes pressure racing - Day 4

by Richard Gladwell 14 Feb 2019 00:16 PST 14 February 2019
Freddy Loof (SWE) sets up for the gybe - Day 4 Symonite OK World Championship, February 14, 2019 © Richard Gladwell

"Make a call then execute" was how series leader and top coach, Dan Slater, described the best race strategy for Day 4 of the Symonite 2019 OK Dinghy World Championship sailed from the Wakatere Boating Club, on Auckland's North Shore.

Although he is still the series leader, Slater retains a reduced lead, after a difficult day at the races. Today for the first time in the regatta the triple Olympian and former Youth World Champion, finished out of the top two - a feat he achieved in both races.

Racing got underway after a two hour postponement, due to a tardy seabreeze, which settled in at a steady 8-10kts.

"The steady seabreeze makes a lot of people in the fleet very competitive," Slater said after the race."The majority of the fleet are very similar in speed in a steady breeze. In puffy conditions the differences become more apparent."

The fleet was much more bunched today, particularly around marks as groups of boats converged form opposite sides of the course. The traffic remained dense throughout the race, unlike previous days when the leaders have been able to ease away and the gaps widen on the last couple of legs.

The general recall flag got an airing in the second race - which started just as the tide turned. Fortunately the display of the Black Flag at the restart calmed the sailors' ardour - but even so six got picked out and sent home early.

Racing was held in a new location to the south of Takapuna, almost off the regatta venue, Wakatere Boating Club, and close to the shore.

"Today was completely different from what we have had previously," Slater said. "Positioning was the key."

"When there is wind against the current at Takapuna, it usually pays to go left, and you also get the wind bending around Rangitoto," he explained.

Choosing a light air sail would have been the best option today, as the sailors needed power to punch through the waves, and would not have hurt downwind", Slater reflected.

Olympic Gold and twice Bronze medalist Fredrik Loof put his mark on the series with second and third places, edging slightly closer to the overall lead but still 12 points from being the frontrunner. He will have to win both remaining races in the series with Slater an average of seven places across the two races remaining in the regatta, to take the World title for the first time.

Current World Youth Champion Josh Armit was expected to fire up in the lighter breeze, but couldn't really escape the traffic and dropped back to fourth overall after scoring 7th and 8th from today's two races.

Andrew Phillips (NZL) who Slater says has put more effort into this regatta than any other sailor, got his reward with a win in the first race of the day, his second win of the series and sits in third overall behind Freddy Loof.

The second race of the day was won by Rohan Lord (NZL), a top five finisher in the Star Worlds and top three in the Laser. With that record maybe his ability to pull a win out of a very classy fleet should not be a surprise. However a bad Day 2 where he came away with two alphabet scores puts him in 18th overall. "He's one of the best sailors in the world in that condition - he doesn't do a lot wrong," Slater remarked.

Former America's Cup helmsman, Olympic Gold and Silver medalist, Rod Davis turned in another countable performance in the final race for his best race of the series. The Masters sailor placed sixth in Race 7, for eighth place overall. Today he played the percentages in the final race, recovering well from a 30th in Race 6, which became his series discard.

The final day of racing is scheduled for tomorrow, Friday, starting at 11.00am

The forecast is for light winds.

For full results click here

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