Perth 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships - Long week for Canada

Star Medal Race - ISAF Sailing World Championships Perth 2011
John Curtis
Perth 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships - The Star medal race took place today along with fleet racing in the Laser, Men’s RS:X, and Women’s 470.

Well the Doctor was back but not with the 30 knots everyone says is the usual strength of the Doctor. I think Australians are a little like Texans - they like to exaggerate.

In any case it was fantastic weather for sailing. We started off the day with the Medal Race in the Star. That Canadian team of Richard Clarke and Tyler Bjorn were sitting 10th before this final race which only includes the top 10 from the fleet racing. The medal races are all done very close to shore which you will see from the photos. It was a fantastic spectacle.

The Canadians had a good start and rounded the first mark in fifth. Unfortunately they received a penalty flag from the jury boat for kinetics. We are not sure what sort of kinetics but Richard assumes it was for rocking the boat - not easy to avoid in the waves today. In any case the penalty is a 720 turn. By the time they completed their 'spins', they were in 10th and about 150 M behind the ninth place boat. There was still one and a half laps to complete and they were not about to give up.

Star Medal Race - ISAF Sailing World Championships Perth 2011
John Curtis

Sailing tremendously well they made it back to eighth which meant making up about 250 M. These guys are not quitters. It was disappointing to get a flag, but the boys have taken it in stride. They will be speaking with the Juror who issued the penalty which is considered all part of the learning process. In my opinion this is one of the more poorly run aspects of the sport when people who are true experts in the field are being judged by the 'armchair quarterbacks' of our sport. I am not sure there is anything that can be done, so one just tries to learn how the jury see their job and try to stay out of trouble. This is entirely my opinion. I want to make it clear that despite being disappointed, Richard and Tyler accept this as just part of the game.

So in the end this result was not enough to move them up the scoreboard from 10th but that is good enough to lock in their sport for the Olympic Games next summer.

Star Medal Race - ISAF Sailing World Championships Perth 2011
John Curtis

Robert Scheidt and Bruno Prada from Brazil managed to win the event in fine form. Results can be viewed here.

Zac sailing - ISAF Sailing World Championships Perth 2011
John Curtis

Today was the last day of RS:X fleet racing. Zac Plavsic had a remote chance of making it into the top 10 for the medal race and to clinch a spot for the London Games. He went into today in 14th with a lot of points to make up. The wind was 18-22 knots today which suited Zac just fine.

DSCF0206 - ISAF Sailing World Championships Perth 2011
John Curtis

In race nine he finished ninth. Four of the people ahead of him that he needed to make up ground on were behind him in this race. The pressure was really on now. In the last race - race 10 he managed an amazing sixth place. The top group he was in was nearly a leg ahead of the last board in the fleet, but sixth was not good enough to put him in the top 10. Zach did move up to 12th overall, but will have to wait for the Worlds in Cadiz to qualify himself for the Olympics. Zac's result at 10th County has easily qualified Canada for a spot in the Men's RS:X in London under the International qualification standard, but under the Canadian system he must finish top 10 hear or simply be the top Canadian at the 2012 Worlds. This 14th was Zac's very best World Championship result and will certainly help his government funding going into London.

Zac sailing - ISAF Sailing World Championships Perth 2011
John Curtis

Although David Hayes, the other Canadian RS:X sailor, was not close to Zac at this event, he has also made big improvements - having his every best World Championship result with a 31st overall. Don't count this guy out. He is motivated and extremely fit. If he can figure out how to manage these big fleets and the resulting crowded race courses, he may just close the gap between him and Zac over the next three months and provide a real challenge to Zac at the Worlds in May. As he said to me on the beach 'I am sick of not doing better, of always being a prospect.' From the way he was talking he sounded very fired up about pouring even more effort into his program in the next three months. This is the kind of fire that makes things happen.

The 49'er Silver fleet sailed three races today. Overall Cook Lowden finished a disappointing 35th and Ladha/Inkpen were close behind in 37th. This has not been a great regatta for Cook/Lowden. They will have to rethink their preparations for the next worlds in Croatia in March. So long as they finish within the top 19 countries at those Worlds and are top Canadian team, they will qualify for the Games. This should not be too difficult as they were 18th Country here and as Coach Rhodes said 'they could not have done much worse if they tried'. This may not sound like a nice thing to say but in fact it is meant as a big endorsement of their potential and to clarify just how badly things went off the rails here. These guys are not quitters or complainers. They will go home, recalibrate and be back in fighting form in January.

470 Women: The only Canadian Team of Dana Archibald and Karen Dexter also demonstrated their fortitude today with their best race of the series in the last race with a 35th to finish 42nd overall. This result should not fool anyone. With the right coaching and training program between now and the next World Championship, it would not surprise me to see this young team qualify for the Olympics in London at their next World Championships in Europe this spring. They definitely have their work cut out for them.

More Medal Racing tomorrow but no Canadians sailing. It's been a long week.

DSCF0132 - ISAF Sailing World Championships Perth 2011
John Curtis

Wind Athletes Canada website
Perth 2011 website