Big breeze for opening day of Grey Goose ISAF Team Racing World Championship in Newport

The action was fast and furious as the first day of racing for the 2005 Grey Goose ISAF Team Racing World Championship got underway yesterday on Narragansett Bay in a strong southerly breeze (21 knots with gusts to 31). The field of play – set between Rose Island and Goat Island by the New York Yacht Club Race Committee – allowed the large crowd of spectators gathered on the northern end of Goat Island to see, and in some cases hear, everything taking place on the water.

Undefeated after their first two races of the day, Australia 2 faced Ireland 1 (0-2) for race 19 as foam kicked up on the racecourse midway through the morning. There was a lot of commotion at the windward mark, accompanied by loud conversation, as the teams converged with two boats virtually stopped dead in their tracks. One of the Australian boats then did a 360 the hard way – nearly death-rolling into a capsize after taking their penalty turn and losing control while reaching for their protest flag. While the incident did spread the fleet out, it was still a close race once the smoke cleared.

Down the leeward leg with all the penalty turns done, AUS 2 with a 2-3-5 combination held a narrow lead over IRL 1 with a 1-4-6 as the race tightened up going into the next mark where IRL 1 rounded with a 1-4-5. Although AUS 2 was temporarily successful in slowing down the middle Irish boat, they would suffer their first loss of the day as IRL 1 improved to 1-3-5 at the finish in a race that saw tremendous action at the first mark. AUS 2 would come away from the day with three wins and four losses while IRL 1 settled out with three and three.

Quickening the pace was the addition of a third flight of umpires that allowed races to start every five minutes. By mid-afternoon, when conditions were judged too windy both for the equipment and some of the competitors, the halfway mark of round one had been passed with 55 races sailed. At the end of day one, predicted to be the windiest day of the week, GBR 2 and USA 2 were both undefeated with seven wins apiece, establishing themselves as the fastest in the conditions seen today. A shake-up in the standings could be in short order courtesy of a lighter northerly predicted for today.