Thursday, December 17, 2009

Canadians leading 2 classes at Sail Melbourne

Picture of Mike Leigh from CYA website article - Ralph, Montreal Sailing

Canadians are having an outstanding regatta down under. Sail Melbourne is the first stop of ISAF's Sailing World Cup Series.

Mike Leigh is holding down first overall in the Laser full-rig with 6 of the 11 races completed. He has 2 bullets, a 2nd, and a 3rd place giving the appearance of being the dominator. However Clayton Johnson of the U.S. is just two points behind. Third is Andy Maloney, 9 points back.

In the 2.4mR class, Paul Tingley is in first place overall, with one bullet, and one point ahead of Peter Thompson of Australia. Thompson has had a lot of race wins, but two mid-pack finishes have allowed Tingley to hold the lead.

Conditions have been quite varied. The first day saw wind in the upper teens with large waves. Day 2 was light winds, quite flat water, and very tight racing. The light breeze was shifty, but lasted long enough to be predictable.

Day 3 saw both strong and light wind that was shifty and puffy with the left usually being faster, but then the right sometimes being better. Day 3, the most demanding of conditions was described as follows:

“It was very shifty out there today,” said Johnson. “It seemed like the left was very good on the first beat of each race but then the right came on in a huge way. These shifty and puffy conditions are a bit of fun as long as you stay calm and don’t get frustrated by what the wind is doing. At one stage it was blowing about 20 knots in the first race and then died down to about five so transitioning well was really important,” he said.

In the Laser Radial women’s fleet American Paige Railey said “Pretty much wherever I went today the wind didn’t. In the first race I managed to start at the wrong end but fought back well to win, at one stage there were less boats behind me than in front. Then in the second I managed to bang the wrong corner each time and slipped back a bit. It was a bit weird out there today, one side was favoured on one beat and then the next one it was the other side, at one stage I headed out by myself and got a huge shift and ended up reaching into the windward mark,” she said.

A storm front center came through on day three with a hole of no wind and driving rain. Most fleets were not able to complete a race. Sail Melbourne continues through December 19th.