Brilliant conditions for Race 4 of the International 14 Worlds bring the two British RMW Marine boats to first and second place

It was challenging sailing today under crystal clear blue skies off Takapuna Beach in Auckland for race four of the International 14 world championship.

The pressure at the start was about 12-15 knots from the south-west and with 30 seconds to go it seemed that the whole fleet was at the starboard half of the line. Suddenly the boats started running the line, and at the gun the fleet was spread out pretty well. Eighty-one boats had a clean start, and 79 of them finished, all within the allocated time.

The breeze proved to be inconsistent, however, which added to the other factors of tide, lifts, and cargo ships. “It was a tricky old day,” said Ian Barker, crew for Alister Richardson on GBR 1516, which came in fourth today. Apparently the British boats sporting the RMW Marine spinnaker had those tricks figured out, as the winner today was GBR 1513 with Stevie Morrison and Ben Rhodes on board. Now at first and second in the standings, they are followed by Australian Brad Devine (see photo) in third place today and third in the standings. Brad and crew Denis Jones led at the first two marks, followed by James Fawcett, who ultimately took second place today. According to Stevie Morrison, skipper of today’s winning boat, “I got on the right side of the wind and got lucky.”

Local New Zealand sailor Dan Slater moved up a notch in the standings from 6th to an exciting 5th. Dan apparently felt he might have done even better than his 10th-place finish today if he had had a larger jib.

And the winds were definitely lighter today. In fact, the boats were almost becalmed at the finish, as the winds diminished as forecast. The second run and final beat were shortened due to the lack of wind, and there was a beat to the finish. At the end, the most savvy sailors lined up close to the beach to get out of the tide and then almost drifted into the finish.

Another interesting scenario was provided when two large commercial ships were guided and timed to get through the fleet with the least disruption under the supervision of Harbour Pilot Captain John Barker. Seemingly only Paul Bieker and Guillaume Vernaise had to make the decision not to tangle with the tanker.

Peter Hayward in CAN 590 crept into the top ten places with his 14th place finish today. Bjorn Frasch in GER 172 is the top German boat, holding down 29th place after today’s racing, and the top US contenders are Ted Rogers and Tim Burks in USA 1137 at 35th place. The Japanese are in the bottom half of the fleet.

At the end of the day, the top ten place holders changed very little, with one, Warren Sare dropping to 12th, and CAN 590 taking his place. But the light winds certainly presented challenges for previous 1st and 3rd place holders AUS 631 Lindsay Irwin and AUS 626 Grant Geddes who came in 27th and 29th today, but stayed in the top ten by virtue of their consistently low performances earlier in the week.

As Race Officer Ross Wilson said, “The big shifts today gave the boats the opportunity to gain or lose position,” and those who got it right went ahead.

There will be no racing until 17 February, as tomorrow is a spare day.