Day 5 of the ‘A’ Cat Worlds was another early start, but for the Open fleet this time. David Campbell-James, our favourite PRO, is keen to get a full 12 race series in, as we think he may have a little money on doing it! So, it was two Open races followed by 3 Classic fleet races and Weybiza was set to deliver again.
Under starters orders and they’re off. China Team’s Phil Robinson NZL 555, nailed the pin and immediately shot off foiling upwind. Higher up the line a few others also started to ease ahead. At this level, if you can’t foil uphill, it’s game over I’m afraid. But it is still a condition dependent tool though. But at the first mark, it was another Kiwi, Dave Shaw NZL 230 who led by 50m from the current championship leader Mischa Heemskerk NED 007. The rest of the fleet chased through about 30 seconds later like hounds chasing foxes, and one or two making a similar noises in fact. By the next top rounding the pair were still pretty much together. In fact, Dave is probably the fastest of the pair in a straight line, however, Mischa just does the corners so much faster and slicker than anyone else in this fleet and that is usually where he gets ahead every time.
Mischa took his 6thbullet, with Dave second by about 100m. Manuel Calavia ESP 11, got the third spot. The finishing area, just in front of the committee boat, again was the scene of much action, as we saw yesterday. The best being Kiwi Phil capsizing to windward as he crossed the line, much to everyone’s, and his amusement.
Their second race, number 10 in the series started cleanly for all except for Paul Larsen AUS 51. The Worlds Fastest Sailor suddenly became the slowest as he hooked the pin end boat’s anchor line bringing him to a halt faster than a McDonnell Douglas Phantom arriving on the Ark Royal and sending him to the forestay. Oh how he laughed…. Eventually, after nearly 5 minutes, and selected Australian vernacular language terms that even caused seagulls to turn back in flames, he managed to unhook and amazingly, his foils seemed totally undamaged. He then set off again like a freight train this time is a state of some determination. At the top again it was the trinity of Mischa, Dave and Manuel. Being chased by the pack, led by the Polish aces Tymo Bendyk POL 15 and Kuba Surowiec POL 41, always ready to snap at their heels should anything go awry.
Back at the bottom mark there was the now customary port starboard action, featuring screaming, and boats flying everywhere. Tip – this would not be a good place to fall off, regardless of how much protection you are wearing. When rounding up from a fast downwind leg, you need to bear in mind you’ll need to configure the boat for it’s upwind leg, always mindful of your surroundings. The best sailors will come in fast and low, always wide at first. This means that the layline needs to be right and further up that previous downwind leg they will have adjusted so they are not coming in too sharply. Then they will round the mark clipping the apex, if it were a race track, later in the turn. So in wide, out tight. If you come in too tight and turn through too sharply, a frequent sight at the mark, then the boat will skyrocket upwards, when the foils will then lose the lift and the boat comes crashing down with a bang, dropping your speed to 25% of what it was. Looks great for the photos, but like tyre smoking, not good for speed. Then as the experts push the tiller away, they will bang in the traveller thus setting up for the upwind mode. Finally the mast rotation and the downhaul pulled on, but these are both dependent on the conditions and windspeed so can be varied after seeing the conditions anew. Board rake is often just left the same for the whole course. Now do that with 6 other boats coming in at similar speeds and one of a different tack and you have some idea why sailing is regarded as the Worlds most difficult sport to master.
The race was won again by Mischa, with Dave in second bit Tymo was third this time as Manuel was in lowly (for him) 7thplace. The rest of the fleet all fought hard to the finish with many close finishes at the line. They then went back to shore for tea and pasties.
The classics were then on station. Far less frenetic their races, but no less skilled. In fast the tactical aspect for the Classic can be much higher as they can play shifts and angles more. The wind was also building. Not a problem for the classics as you’d just trim to suit and flatten the sails. And in the very high end, it is though that many Open sailors secretly wished they were on classics as they are so much more planted.
Their three races were all won by former champ Andrew Landenberger AUS 308 giving him 6 bullets like Mischa. Scotty Anderson AUS 31, another World champ and Olympic sailor got seconds with Alberto Farnesi SWE 59, in third for the first two races and Landy’s son Andrew AUS 300 got the third in the last and windiest race.
The scene is set for a grand finale now. 14-17knot winds are forecast. It will be keenly sailed by sailors looking to snatch places, and the two leader could still be beaten if something happens in the first race to render them out for the last one too, so we are all watching with great interest. Weymouth is set to deliver yet again!