Aussies and Brits shine in Melbourne sun
by Bernie Kaaks
In perfect conditions on Melbourne’s Port Phillip, the first two races of the Para World Championship were run today by the Royal Yacht Club of Victoria. Winds were steady at around 10 knots and as cloud cover cleared all three course areas were bathed in sunshine.
Great Britain’s Megan Pascoe opened up a first day lead in the 2.4mR whilst Australian sailors in the SKUD18 and Sonar top the billing.
In somewhat of a sensation today, one the favourites in the 2.4mR fleet, Great Britain’s Helena Lucas, received a “U” flag disqualification in the first race and has a lot of work to do to work her way back up the leader board. After two attempts to get the fleet away, the race committee used the “U” flag to try to get a clean start. Even under threat of disqualification for an early start, three sailors still took them on and paid the price. Joining Lucas on the sidelines were New Zealand’s Paul Francis and Australia’s Neil Patterson.
The leading group worked the left side of the course on the first leg, and having established themselves at the head of the fleet, did their best to consolidate their places on the remaining legs, but even within the lead group there were some major changes of position, particularly during mark roundings, where the action was every bit as cut-throat as it was in yesterday’s practice race.
Lucas’ team mate Megan Pascoe took responsibility for Great Britain however, starting well in both races to finish the day with a third in race one and a first in race two, to head the leader board in company with German champion Heiko Kroeger, who scored two seconds for the day, sailing with great consistency throughout.
Damien Seguin of France has seven points, along with Norway’s Bjoernar Erikstad. These four were prominent in both races today and deserve their position on the leader board. Australian Matt Bugg struggled, placing ninth in the opening race and eighth in the second. His team mate Peter Thompson excelled in the second race, picking the shifts well to finish fourth, but with a 29th place in race one, he is well back from the leaders.
Others featuring at various stages, and still prominent on the leader board, are Austrian Sven Reiger, German Lasse Kloetzing, who lies one point behind Matt Bugg on 18 and Czech Republic sailor Daniel Bina a further point back.
Conditions were perfect for the SKUD18’s. Australia’s Dan Fitzgibbon and Liesl Tesch began with a second place in the first race, but were dominant in race two with a good win. Their main competition will continue to come from the British pair of Alexandra Rickham and Niki Birrell who trail them with a second and third to their credit and Poland’s Monica Gibes and Piotr Cichocki, who posted and eighth in the second race after winning the first.
In race two, the Australians rounded the first mark with a small but decisive lead, but sailing fast and deep under spinnaker, doubled their lead when they reached the gate and went on from there to a very comfortable win.
After racing Fitzgibbon said, “The first day of World Champs for us and we are trying to settle in to a long week ahead. It’s just the first day and the first race was a bit on the light side and a bit choppy and we came away with a second, which was good to settle in.
“In the second race we got a bit more wind, 12-15 knots and we got away with a win in that one, which was good. We extended on the fleet and for the first day, we’re pretty happy with where we are.”
Hear from Fitzgibbon some more below:
The Australian Sonar crew of Colin Harrison, Jonathan Harris and Russell Boaden had to fight hard for their two wins today.
At the top mark in race two, Canada’s crew of Paul Tingley, Logan Campbell and Scott Lutes led narrowly, ahead of the Australians and Britain’s John Robertson, Hannah Stodel and Steve Thomas. Once again however, Harrison was able to finesse his way to the lead on the downwind leg and from there was never headed.
After two races, the Australian team leads the way with two wins. They are followed by New Zealand’s Richard Dodson, Chris Sharp and Andrew May who recorded a fifth and a second and the Israeli team of Dror Cohen, Arnon Efrati and Shimon Ben Yakov a point further back.
Scores are quite close in this fleet and give the promise of some great competition during the remainder of the regatta.
Racing is scheduled to resume at 13:00 on Sunday 29 November out of the Royal Yacht Club of Victoria in Williamstown, Melbourne, Australia.