The British win the race and dominate the top five in the International 14 Worlds in New Zealand

After two “general recalls” caused by an entire fleet of over-eager sailors, Race 5 of the International 14 Worlds got under way in Takapuna about ten knot westerlies and bright sunny conditions. Seemingly within moments of the start gun there was a big shift to the left, and that trend was to continue for the whole race.

Playing the shifts – whether with luck or skill – was the way to come out on top today. First place British winners James Fawcett and Dave Dobrijevic agreed that it was all very shifty and that patience was a virtue. Fawcett at the helm of GBR 1511 said: “It’s about knowing your numbers and reading them and having faith.” The British team is now in third overall. The boat was never in the lead until the last 20 feet of the race, but, Dobrijevic explained, “you’ve got to just keep nibbling away.”

Dan Slater and Nathan Handley, the New Zealand favourites in NZL 43, picked the far left end of the start line, shooting out and then tacking onto port almost immediately. They rounded the first top mark in fourth place, and though they lost a few places throughout the race, ended up about where they started by finishing third. This strong performance has kept them in fifth place overall, even after the discards of the worst score allowed after Race 5.

Zach Berkowitz, the strong U.S. contender, had a great race, apparently ending up one place ahead of Slater, but was disappointed to find out at the end of the day that he had been ruled OCS. Berkowitz and crew Bordow in USA 1157 are currently holding 28th place, the top US boat.

Huge changes in position were the rule of the day, with boats gaining or losing 15-20 places on each leg. According to a spectator, this made for exciting and dramatic viewing, with boats all over the course and leads changing regularly. One example was GBR 1514, with Paul Ravenhill and Caroline Gosford on board. They were fifth at the first mark, fifth at the second mark, and 51st at the finish. New Zealander Grant Bourke said he passed 30 boats on the first run. A big success was had by GBR 1506 which had previously had three “did not finishes” and one 44. Sailed by Mark Upton-Brown and Nick Taylor, they came in at number four today.

When all was said and done, the boats that handled the shifts got the good results, and the top sailors have been consistent. Lindsay Irwin and Andrew Perry in AUS 631 have been excellent, now standing at only six points with two second places and two firsts. Brits Stevie Morrison, James Fawcett and Alister Richardson are next, with 14, 16 and 16; and Kiwi Dan Slater is hanging tough to stay in the top five.

Current Rankings

1st – AUS Irwin/Perry

2nd – GBR Morrison/Rhodes

3rd – GBR Fawcett/ Dobrijevic

4th – GBR Richardson/Barker

5th – NZL Slater/Handley