Postponements cause frustration at day two of the Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta 21/9/07

Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta saw frustration across the international fleet as only two classes, the RSX 9.5s and RSX 8.5s windsurfers took to the water at Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy yesterday.

By dawn the Portland Harbour Anemometer recorded a mean wind speed of nearly 30 knots with rain squalls gusting over 35 knots. Race officials announced that due to the extreme conditions racing would be held until conditions improved. By 1000 the race office announced that no racing would take place outside the harbour and the RSX fleet would use the two inside courses, to start the day’s racing off.

The sailors saw intense conditions out on the racecourse with 30 plus knots, which soon separated the fleet between the key players and the novices. Experience and confidence was key today, with the Frenchman Fabrice Hassen dominating the RSX men’s fleet, scoring an impressive first and second to secure his overall lead. Hot on his heels was Britain’s Nick Dempsey who sailed consistently to deliver two thirds, finally securing third in the rankings after two days racing.

The RS:X 8.5 fleet contains both women and men who are training to develop into the RS:X 9.5 fleet. Spaniard Bianca Manchon is dominating the fleet and after securing a second place in yesterday’s racing, she clocked up an impressive first and third out on the water securing the top spot at the end of the day’s rankings. Making a comeback from a shaky start, was Britain’s Bryony Shaw who was on top form today, producing a second and first, raising her to fifth on the leader board overall.

After the two races for the RS:X fleet, the Lasers were primed and ready to get racing, but conditions proved too dangerous for the sailors, and the race organisers soon announced a cancellation to racing for the day.

With 321 sailors competing at this event from 16 countries across five continents, this ISAF Grade 2 regatta is a truly international event. One of the competitors, Ajay Rau is just nineteen years old and hales from Madras in Southern India, he is sailing in the Laser Class and absolutely thrilled to be sailing at Weymouth this week, commenting: “This is my second visit to Weymouth, having competed in the Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championships here in 2006, it is a fantastic venue with world class competitions. At home, I sail at the Royal Madras Yacht Club and we rarely have more than ten Lasers racing at a time, to come to this regatta and race in a big fleet of world-class sailors is very exciting for me.

“I am still hoping to compete for India in Beijing, although that is not looking likely at the moment but looking forward, it would be a dream come true to sail at Weymouth for my country at the 2012 Olympics. If I could, I would spend as much time sailing in Weymouth as possible and I am very grateful to fellow Laser sailor, Robert Godwin for his help with accommodation and the welcome he has given me during this regatta.”

The sailors will be waiting with baited breath for better conditions over the next few days, the latest forecasts at 1600 BST yesterday suggested the low pressure system which has dominated the region for the last few days to be passing through, but the bad news comes on the form of a second frontal system lying over Scotland, which is expected to affect the area on Friday.

Skandia Sail for Gold Event Director Rob Andrews said today: “We have decided to move the racing forward, starting at 1000 this morning in order to secure some racing time for all the classes. Ultimately we can’t control the weather and whilst the postponements are frustrating we will only send sailors out in what we deem to be safe conditions on the race course.”