Friday, January 25, 2008

Dinghies Down Under in the Thick of it: Melbourne Report

Montreal Sailors Bone and Locas are well back about two thirds into the pack from the leaders at the 470 World Mens' Championship. Racing is currently in the qualifying rounds. Once completed the competitors will be divided into bronze, silver and gold fleets. Currently, after 5 races they are sitting in 67th position out of 94 boats. Their best races so far have been the first and most recent, the fifth, where they placed 17th both times. Provan and Luttmer are in 48th place overall out of 58 boats in the women's 470 World Championship.

Canadian Chris Cook is showing all his potential right now, as he is commanding difficult wind conditions to place high in the overall rankings at the Finn Gold Cup. After 5 races he is sitting in 4th place!

The CYA reported on his first day, and Sail Melbourne featured Cook in its reporting today. Day 1 saw lots of wind shifts catching competitors left behind on the wrong side, or stuck outside a wind line. Cook fought back from bad first legs in each of the first two races. With windward mark roundings of 40 to 60 boats, Cook clawed back to 15th and 19th at the finish line. Here is an excerpt from the excellent CYA report:

"The conditions presented many challenges, race one was held in 7-10 knot SSE breeze with 30 degree shifts and varying wind lines creating havoc on the course. Chris looking solid out of the blocks saw the right side of the course cave in on him and struggled to round in the top 30, solid performance for the remainder of the race saw Chris pull out a 15th place finish including a fantastic final run that was only a couple lengths short of a top 10 finish.

"Race 2 saw increasing breeze, but no less variability with winds peaking at around 15 knots but for the most part ranging between 11-13 knots. Undone by the right in race 1, Chris along with some formidable company including GBR's Ben Ainslie and current World Champion Raffa of ESP, worked the left side of the course, there was no joy for that group and he battle to sail a keeper was on. All three athletes ultimately made it back into the top 20, but not without some mounting frustration."

In Race 3, the sole race scheduled for yesterday, Cook pulled off a 5th place finish. Now, today, Cook started with a bullet! In the second race of the day he followed up with another blazing ride for 2nd place! This time, the day's wind stabilized around 8 knots, not rising over 11. In the first race of today, Cook and Dan Slater of NZL got good starts under the black flag, while Ben Ainslie collided with another boat, and did a 720 penalty turn.

A report by Corinne McKenzie on Sail Melbourne goes on to say:

"Meanwhile Dan Slater and Chris Cook where leading the fleet to the top mark. The Canadian took command on the run and increased his lead with skilful boat handling. Under the watchful eyes of the Jury he went on to win the race. Slater collected his first penalty for kinetics at the end of the first run allowing Cook to sail further in front. Zach Railey (USA) who had a disappointing regatta so far was glad to recover his good form from the Sail Melbourne regatta, to place second in front of Slater and Ed Wright (GBR). World ranked # 6, Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic recovered from a 20th place after a yellow flag at the start of the first run to finish in 5th place. “I gained 10 places on the 2nd beat and another 5 on the last downwind leg”, explained “Bambi”.

"The right side of the course was often the best choice. It was how Ben Ainslie won the second race: “I started on the pin end again but crossed to the right. I went on the right side again on the second beat and gained a few places. It looks like the right is often the way to go. It is surely a hard place to sail and the wind is not obvious to read.” Chris Cook repeated his first race tactic to finish second in front of Gasper Vincec (SLO). It was the first top 10 result for the Slovenian who has been struggling so far. Emilios Papathanasiou crossed the line in 4th place.

"As Australia will turn in “holiday” mode tomorrow to allow everyone to properly celebrate “Australia day”, the sailors and officials will have a day off. Racing will resume with two races on Sunday. Tonight, the sailors were treated to a taste of Australian “wildlife on the Barbie” with Emu, Kangaroos, Barramundi and other local delicacies."

CYA Report
Sail Melbourne