by Craig Heydon
Perth 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships twelfth day of racing was hampered by light and shifty conditions.
Tom Slingsby of Australia - Laser - Men’s One Person Dinghy event of the 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships
Australian Tom Slingsby continues to lead the way in the Laser fleet following the final day of qualification races.
Competition is set to heat up from Thursday with the leading sailors set to face off against each other in the Gold fleet with Slingsby taking a seven point lead over Great Britain’s Paul Goodison into the next stage of competition.
The triple World Champion had a mixed day with another impressive race win to kick off the day before being forced to fight back from deep in the fleet to finish ninth in race two.
'I had a good one and a not so good one today, it was a crazy day,' said Slingsby. 'In the first race I was doing well in about third and picked the left hand side when the wind went funky, I was able to get up to first and then hold on to win.'
'In race two we had a massive wind shift which was practically a self tacker to the left for me, with the guys who started at the other end of the line rounding the top mark minutes ahead,' he said. 'I had to play catch up again and caught as many as I could heading towards the finish.'
Slingsby said that he’ll take some confidence into the Gold fleet following four race wins from the first six races, but that the conditions continue to challenge the entire fleet.
'I know that I’m sailing well when the breeze is normal, when it goes crazy it’s a bit of luck of the day but I’m in good shape going into tomorrow,' he said. 'It’s weird what’s going on with the wind, it’s a hard time to lead an event because you’re trying to watch your opposition and who’s close to you on points but in stuff like that you can’t cover them.
'If it comes back to the Fremantle Doctor I’ll rest a bit easier because I know it’ll come down to the little shifts and nothing crazy on the race course where the others could get 20 or 30 points on me,' said Slingsby.
Fellow Australian Ashley Brunning has jumped up to fourth overall after another very strong day of racing off the coast of Fremantle.
Brunning has been towards the front of the fleet in all of the conditions thrown at the sailors and Wednesday was no different, with Brunning picking up a fourth and a second to be just four points behind the second placed Goodison.
Tom Burton is also in touch with the leaders in 16th position following a third and a fourth, leaving him nine points outside the top 10.
In the 49er fleet Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen have continued their move up the leaderboard, ending their third day of racing in third overall.
The 2009 World Champions are just five points off the leaders, John Pink and Rick Peacock, following an eighth and a fifth in shifty conditions.
'We only got two races in today but I think we were out there for five hours or so,' said Outteridge. 'The conditions were pretty tricky today, the forecast was for a seabreeze to come in and when it did it was for five minutes then it disappeared so it was really shifty and erratic.
'We toughed it out in both races and ended up with an eight and a fifth, probably not the best day results wise but it could have been a lot worse,' he said.
Jensen said that the pair had to take some risks on a day that kept all of the crews on their toes.
'Today was one of those days where you couldn’t be too conservative,' said Jensen. 'If you went up the middle you’d get passed by both sides so you had to kind of sail high risk and it turned out that we had a couple of consistent results by sailing high risk so it all worked out in the end.'
Will and Sam Phillips ended the day in 17th overall following a 20th and a race win, leaving them just 11 points off 10th.
The 49er fleet will have a lay day on Thursday before finals racing kicks off on Friday.
Australia’s Women’s Match Racing crews suffered double disappointment with both teams bowing out at the quarter-final stage of the competition.
After the highs of finishing second and third in the repechage round robin and qualifying Australia for the London 2012 Olympic Games the crews were unable to replicate those results, with both teams losing three wins to nil.
All eight crews in the quarter-finals spent hours floating around on Fremantle Harbour waiting for the breeze to fill in before the race committee made the decision to move the course out of the river to ensure the quarter-finals could be completed later in the day.
Unfortunately the move didn’t pay dividends for the Australians with both missing out on a spot in Thursday’s semi-finals.
Olivia Price, Nina Curtis and Lucinda Whitty lost to Russia’s Ekatrina Skudina while Nicky Souter, Jessica Eastwell and Katie Spithill were beaten by America’s Anna Tunnicliffe.
Though both Price and Souter’s crews will back in action on Thursday, competing in the fifth to eighth place playoff.
Elise Rechichi and Belinda Stowell have continued their move up the leaderboard in the 470 women’s class, with each race together proving invaluable for the new pairing.
Competing in just their third regatta together the pair finished with an eighth and a ninth on Wednesday to be 12th overall and just three points off 10th position.
Luke Baillie is the highest placed Australian in the RS:X men’s fleet in 35th, with Tim Gourlay and James Levy the next two best placed in 46th and 60th respectively.
In the Star class Paul McKenzie and Phillip Toth are the leading Australian crew in 22nd overall, following their best day of the regatta so far with a 17th and an eighth place finish.
Australian Sailing Team website