The Gold fleets will be separated out for the final days of the regatta - the leaderboard has got tighter almost everywhere

It was a day when the trapdoor opened – we’re at the end of the opening rounds of Skandia Sail for Gold 2010. The Gold fleets will be separated out, and today we get down to the business end of the regatta. If you went through the trapdoor into the silver fleet today, there’s no way back. Meanwhile, at the top end the high-fliers from the first three days were roped up and hauled back into the pack – the leaderboard has got tighter almost everywhere.


If you want to see some seriously intense competition, look no further than the Women’s 470 fleet. World Champions, Lisa Westerhof and Lobke Berkhout overhauled the Japanese pair of Ai Kondo and Wakako Tabata today – and they did it despite a black flag disqualification in the first race – going on to win the second. They say that champions are measured by their response to adversity, and if so, these two are real champions.

Westerhof said afterwards, “Everyone is sailing really up and down and the fleet isn’t very consistent, apart from the Japanese who are having a good series. Although we haven’t been consistent, we have managed to get to the top, but it doesn’t feel like it. We have had an OCS (over the start line early) and finished 18th in a race on the first day, so we need to work on that, but the result at the minute is great.”

Westerhof and Berkhout count two firsts and two seconds with that DSQ and 18th – but headline interest in this fleet goes further down the scoring list. Ingrid Petitjean and Nadarge Douroux lead French compatriots Emmanuelle Rol and Helene Defrance by one point in the the ISAF Sailing World Cup standings, and by just one place in the regatta – they are fourth and fifth.

We talked about three (other) French teams yesterday, all with exceptional leads in their fleets – and while all of them held onto those leads, it was a struggle. In the Men’s 470, Pierre Leboucher and Vincent Garos scored a 12th and a second, and are now just two points ahead of Australian World Champions, Matt Belcher and Malcolm Page. And it’s a hot Aussie breath on the back of French necks. “We’re having a good regatta,” said Belcher, “we got two seconds today and things are going well.

Obviously we’ve won the [ISAF Sailing] World Cup and the World Championships, so it’s been a great year and we never expected to be able to head into this event with the World Cup title wrapped up, so it’s a great position to be in.”

It the 49er, Frenchmen Manu Dyen and Stephane Christidis had recorded a 2, 2, 2, 1, 1 up to this morning, but today they could only add a third and an eleventh.

The chasing Kiwis, Peter Burling and Blair Tuke, didn’t fair much better with a second and a 14th, and now find themselves just one point ahead of both their cross-Tasman rivals, Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen, and the British team of Stevie Morrison and Ben Rhodes. The latter crew had an outstanding day with a first and a third, and Morrison said afterwards, ‘It wasn’t very easy to make big gains, it was tough on the start and it was generally one sided, and pretty much down to boat speed.’ Clearly, the British pair weren’t lacking in that commodity today.

In the Finn, the French high-flier yesterday was Jonathan Lobert, with a first and two seconds. But overnight, three of the major contenders, Ben Ainslie, Dan Slater and Ed Wright got awarded average points for yesterday’s race, because of confusion over a change of course. The trio got those average points calculated on all their other races up to the end of today. So Ben Ainslie promptly went out and scored two seconds – hitting the kind of form that’s won him more Finn bling than we can count. And so he’s now up to second, 5.5 points behind Lobert…

The Skud-18 got back on the water today, after missing out yesterday when the breeze made sailing impossible. And Aussies, Daniel Fitzgibbon and Rachael Cox also had an outstanding day with three bullets to take a three point lead from the Brits, Alexandra Rickham and Nikki Birrell. Elsewhere there was another solid performance from Irishmen Peter O’Leary and Frithjof Kleen in the Star. The early leaders, Kiwi America’s Cup stars Hamish Pepper and Craig Monk, have faded badly to drop to ninth, leaving the Irish team clear by eight points from Swedes, Fredrik Loof and Johan Tillander.

In the Men’s RS:X, Brit Nick Dempsey now leads overall after a great day, scoring a first and a second. Dempsey’s agreed with his compatriot, Stevie Morrison (49er) about the start, “The difficult thing today was the starts, you could win or lose the race by the way you performed on the line so it was really important to ensure a safe start.” And finally, we can’t leave without a nod to the Laser Radial fleet, who were out there till late afternoon before they could get off the start line cleanly. No shortage of competitive athletes then, with Dutch girl, Marit Bouwmeester, now even at the top of the leaderboard with France’s Sophie de Turckheim.

For a full list of results, CLICK HERE.