Races two and three of the International 14 Worlds bring challenges to the fleet and two bullets for Australia
It was a long day out on the Hauraki Gulf for the International 14s yesterday for races two and three of the world championship. Because there was no racing the previous day, the Race Committee scheduled an extra race at 10:00 am yesterday. Boats and sailors began appearing on the beach as early as 8:00 am, and the day finally ended around 6 pm for most of the fleet. There was a good break at midday, when everyone sailed back to the beach for lunch and a rest.
The big story of Race Two was a weather front that passed through the harbour about halfway through the racing. It brought wind shifts, huge gusts, chilling rain and poor visibility for a time. Although the breeze was 18 kts with stronger gusts at the start, the shift associated with the front caused lots of capsizes as people were forced to gybe without a spinnaker and reach into the bottom mark, often dumping when they got there.
Great Britain’s Chris Turner was first at the top mark with a big lead, but then fell back. New Zealand’s Dan Slater and Nathan Handley led at the end of the first lap, but capsized at the bottom mark, which must have been disappointing for the pair.
From about halfway through the race it was Lindsay Irwin and Andrew Perry from Australia. Taking the lead on the second beat, Irwin built up a huge lead that was never threatened. The top three finishers in Race Two were: AUS 631 Irwin/Perry, GBR 1516 Richardson/Baker, and AUS 626 Geddes/Wilsdon.
After the lunch break the fleet sailed out to start Race Three in winds again of about 18kts but with higher gusts and small seas. Four boats were over the line at the start (OCS) with two returning and two carrying on. Brad Devine had a huge lead at the top mark and stayed ahead for the first 5 legs. But in the third beat Alaistair Richardson and Ian Barker got through. They led until they capsized while dropping their spinnaker during the gybe at the bottom mark . That let Lindsay Irwin through to beat Brad Devine to the finish. Richardson took third.
Race 3 also saw a 3-way international collision at the bottom mark between boats from Australia, North America, and Great Britain. Everyone came out of it sailing, but there will likely be some repairs being made tonight.
At the end of the day, the sailors seemed happy. A US competitor was effusive about the venue, saying: “From my perspective I can’t think of a more fitting place for a World Championship. Why? The heavy breeze, the current, the puffs, the shifts, the 83 boats and the chop – when you put all these things together there’s no room for forgiveness, and you really find out who is the best in these heavier conditions.” And Maureen Bates who sails with her husband Andrew said: “It was a day to just enjoy the sailing.”