With 14 boats in the top ten and a clear leader after nine races, the host nation Japan is dominating the J24 Worlds
After yesterday’s penultimate day of racing, the Japanese Team Sled was leading the J24 Worlds with 40 points, ten ahead of the second-placed Mapfre York, from Argentina. With the exception of a 13th place in the second race and a disqualification in the eighth for illegal equipment (see below), Team Sled has yet to dip outside the top ten and has posted two guns.
The fleet of 38 comprises predominantly local boats with 26 Japanese entries, four Australians, three Argentinians, a Peruvian, a Canadian, an Italian and an entry from Bermuda.
Thursday’s racing was delayed until 1200 as breeze filled in from the southwest. After a clean start, the fleet split to both sides of the course. Team KJ from Japan managed to establish a lead at the windward mark that was never relinquished throughout the entire race.
The rest of the fleet however had to deal with a series of windshifts that saw spinnakers and genoas going up and down on the same leg. Although a full five-leg race was completed, two of the competitors filed protests on the conduct of the race at the end of the day. The International Jury could not find within the protests facts that would justify cancelling racing.
By the start of the second race of the day the wind had settled in from the north sufficient to set a 1.6-mile course. After one general recall the fleet did its usual split with half the fleet picking the left side and the other half going right. The right proved to be the better choice with ES Ukon and HM taking a commanding lead until the end of the fouth leg where they split at the gate.
ES Ukon made the better choice and was able to cross the line in first. Juan Grimaldi, showing a lot of faith in his boat speed, picked the left on the last leg and drove hard enough to come from fourth to second at the finish.
The regatta leader from Wednesday, Team Sled, finished fifth and fifteenth for the day – sufficient to hold the lead until a visit from the onshore measurement team found that they were using shock cord as part of the traveller control lines.
The International Jury, based on a protest filed by the Race Committee, held a hearing and disqualified the boat from the eighth race, setting up a showdown between Team Sled and the Argentine, Juan Grimaldi.