Wheel of fortune for many of the fleet in light and shifty conditions
A painful and frustrating day on the water for many of the competitors today as the breeze swung around the Saronic Gulf and caused chaos on several of the race courses. This was probably not the day to be out on the windsurfer course, or the windwhackers as many here like to call them.
Until I’d witnessed a race in this class I hadn’t really grasped why they have this nickname, but as the clock counted down the last five seconds, the cacophony of flapping Mylar as the fleet pumped their way off the line said it all. Sounding like a flock of birds that have suddenly decided to take flight, the windwhackers’ start is an extraordinary spectacle and a shock to us traditionalists.
Having whacked their way upwind, they then proceed to stir themselves downwind in another, more elegant pumping manoeuvre. Frankly, it’s just not cricket to anyone who grew up sitting on a thwart, but it does at least get them around the course.
In the women’s fleet the biceps of Faustine Merret of France helped to win the only race of the day to secure her second overall place while GBR Natasha Sturgess scored an impressive third. Meanwhile, in the men’s fleet her team partner Nick Dempsey saw a bullet pulled away from him as the race was abandoned as the wind dropped to next to nothing.
The 49er class also breaks many of the established rules when it comes to handling the beast, but more of that tomorrow when we hope there might be a bit more breeze to see them in their element.
The 49ers’ opening day of the Games turned inside out on the last leg as a hole on the last downwind leg saw the race leaders the Swiss team of Rast and Steiger fall from pole position to 12th in just a few hundred metres from the finish. The British pair Hiscocks and Draper suffered a similar fate as they fell from 2nd to 9th in the same patch of water.
“It’s always a pretty difficult scenario when the wind fills in from behind. We could have gone to one side and risked losing everything. It’s just one of those things,” said Hiscocks,
In the mens’ 470 class Rogers and Glanfield had a disheartening 18th in the morning, waited ages for the next race then scored a 5th in the taxing conditions. The result keeps them in the lead overall but only by a small margin of two points ahead of the Americans Foerster and Burnham.
Elsewhere Robert Scheidt (BRA) in the Laser class proved how sometimes it’s the same people that seem to get (make) the luck as he consolidated his lead in this class with a 1st and a 3rd opening up his overall lead, he’s currently on 15 points with Philippe Bergmans in second on 32 points. British hopeful Paul Goodison had a tough day with a 28th followed by a 5th to help him sleep tonight.
Another sailor to dominate her class is Norwegian Siren Sundby in the Europe who delivered a 5th and a 1st today to extend her lead, 13 points ahead of the second placed Australian Sarah Blanck. The Greek 470 women’s crew Sofia Bekatorou and Amilia Tsoulfa are also drawing out an impressive lead in the overall stakes.
Overall, a quiet and rather tedious day afloat, although sitting under the scorching sun looking back at Athens was still better than sitting in the the traffic jams and the pollution that tints the skyline ashore.