Wet, wet, wet – testing conditions for day 2 at Skandia Sail for Gold – with more to come

How any of the Laser fleet managed to find their weather mark was a mystery to us as the horizontal rain reduced visibility to 300m at times. Their beat was the best part of a mile, so finding the top of the course relied on a large dose of guesswork at times.

But find it they did, most of the time, until the breeze shifted, the tide turned and suddenly we all found ourselves a little disorientated. In the confusion the men’s Laser fleet ended up way above the starboard layline in one of their races when the mark finally came into view. The result was to turn the fleet inside out. On the radio commentary RIB, at least we had a full chart plotter to help confirm that we hadn’t strayed out into the English Channel, but it was still tricky feeling our way around the course.

Nevertheless, there were some in the men and women’s Laser fleets that proved that they can excel whatever the conditions. Stand out sailor for us today was the Chinese Radial sailor Lijia Xu who won both of her races with apparent ease. Marit Bouwmeester also demonstrated how good she is with a 1st and a 3rd, but at the end of the day it was Evi van Acker who heads the overall table with a 3rd and a 1st from her two races.

Within the British Laser Radial camp Alison Young continuers her impressive march up through the rankings posting a 3rd and 5th in her races, to leave her 6th overall at the end of day 2.

In the men’s Laser, Tom Burton (AUS) got the better of his fellow countryman Tom Slingsby in the overall points stake to finish the day in the lead overall. Philipp Buhl lies in third place while Britain’s Paul Goodison finishes day 2 in 11th.

The Finn and Star classes were in a similar area at the southern extremity of Weymouth Bay and faced similar conditions with big waves, low visibility and driving rain. Here Giles Scott posted three bullets to stamp his authority on the class yet still only managed to be third overall thanks to a 21st that he is carrying from yesterday’s fluky, shifty race. Ben Ainslie has two 5ths, a 2nd and a 3rd to place him in the lead overall but if Scott is to continue his form of today, once the discards start coming into play the overall points could look very different.

In the Star class there was drama on the race course when two boats lost their rigs in the tricky conditions.

By the end of the day it was Peter O’Leary and Robert Scheidt and their crews who took 1st and second overall with Britain’s Iain Percy in 4th.

Among the other standout performances was that of Paralympic sailors Alexandra Rickham and Niki Birrell in the Skud 18 class who have posted three 1st and one 3rd place to see them lead the class at the end of day two.

Tomorrow (Wednesday) sees the weather step up another notch with the breeze building into the mid twenties. And while the rain may not feature quite so heavily, the longer term, prospects for racing this week look lively with the weather winding up with torrential rain on Thursday before the breeze goes wild on Friday with forecast gusts hitting 40 knots!

All of which may have provided food for thought for those looking to the Games in August. Had they factored in this kind of weather? With the jet stream running way further south than normal and showing little sign of heading north and allowing more stable summer conditions to arrive, there must surely be those who are starting to think that Weymouth in August really could deliver anything.

Perhaps this week will be the most valuable lesson of all.

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