What's in store for Day 7 - Matthew Sheahan reports
*****Day 7 LATEST*****
After a promising start to the day the Tornado and Yngling fleets are back ashore waiting for further instructions from the race committee who flew AP over H, to signal this intention.
Today’s conditions started with a decent, albeit shifty northerly breeze, but as blue holes in the cloud cover allowed the city to heat up rapidly, so a sea breeze tried to develop, working in opposition to the northerly gradient. As the two breezes went head to head the wind over the course died while dark ominous clouds developed over the city as the two meteorological conditions converged. At one point it looked as if the situation could develop into a thundery deluge, but this doesn’t appear to have materialised as the conditions have swept towards the west.
So now the two fleets are ashore, as are we, waiting for further instructions. Today could turn out to run much later than normal.
What we have had a glimpse of it the American’s Tornado code zero. In the light conditions before we were sent, in this super flat sail looked impressive upwind.
The big change today is the northerly gradient breeze, the first time we’ve seen this wind direction since the start of the event.
The forecast suggests a breeze in the early teens with a few gusts reaching around 15 at times.
Overcast conditions over the city and course area will limit the development of a sea breeze, although there is a possibility that later in the afternoon the will cloud break up sufficiently for this to happen.
Here’s this morning’s weather forecast from GBR meteorologist Libby Greenhalgh:
Today sees some better wind conditions than yesterday though not easy. A shallow low pressure centre is tracking to the south of Qingdao maintaining an increasing N airflow over the area
If the land was flat this would result in some reasonably stable typical offshore conditions for racing.
However there is a large mountain range to the N that extends 100 plus miles E and acts as a barrier to the wind creating very varied wind conditions across the course areas
Expect a direction N to ENE and wind speeds of 04-12 KT building 08-16 KT with large holes in the wind and wind shifts of 20-40 degrees
Tide is expected to turn around 1200 hrs and then be flooding (going west) until 1630 when it will become slack and begin to ebb (go east)
Could Ben Ainslie and the Yngling girls win gold today, 24 hours before the medal race? Technically yes.
Both teams are five points ahead of their second place rivals and need a further 14 points to secure gold. In both cases, to beat their second placed opponents by such a margin is unlikely but not impossible, especially with three races planned for today. As a result there will be plenty of eyes focussed on what happens here.
The Lasers and Laser Radials are both playing catch up after yesterday’s postponement and could also have three races today starting an hour earlier than normal at midday.
Meanwhile, elsewhere on the race courses, the Tornados will be under close scrutiny. Will the American code zero sail prove to be a lethal weapon, or will they be chasing the fleet from astern? Either is possible. What seems least likely is that the new sail proves to be a good all-rounder.
If the code zero works in a breeze forecast to be in the mid teens, a worst case scenario for this configuration, the event could be a one horse race, if it doesn’t it’ll be a long miserable week for US sailors Lovell and Ogletree.
The Star class makes its first appearance today, competing on the same race course as the Tornados. There’s been little or no chatter about this class in the last few days build up to its racing, so there will be plenty of attention focussed here.
Elsewhere, the 49ers are back out on the water, as are the 470s and the RSX boards. A full on day.
With the hint of medals in the air, the tension and atmosphere here in Qingdao is starting to build.
The case against Norwegian Finn sailor Peer Moberg under rule 69 has been dismissed with his race 7 result being changed to a DSQ.
Why did the US team measure in two small spinnakers rather than one code zero and one conventional kite? (A second kite can be measured in as a spare.) Are they completely convinced that the sail would be faster across all the likely conditions that Qingdao would present or were they spooked by the Dutch, the first to announce their sail publicly?
The Australian and Argentinean teams are understood to have gone for conventional spinnakers.
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