Skandia Sail for Gold - Champagne sailing for Canada

49er class fleet on day 3 of the Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta,
Thursday Report
Another great day of sailing here in Weymouth. The wind started off somewhat lighter than the previous 2 days which had many sailors grinning as the heavy air was starting to take its toll both physically and mentally. By days end a few of those grins were gone as the breeze once again approached the high teens, but reality is this was champagne sailing for Olympian and Paralympians alike. With the splits complete the racing was full one in gold and silver fleets. The Canadian squad took advantage of the somewhat more moderate conditions and put up some solid scores wiggling their way into Medal race contention in 3 fleets and podium contention for the 2.4 mR.

Richard Clarke and Tyler Bjorn in the Star class rebounded in a big way posting a 1-2-6 on the day and sliding up to seventh overall in this hotly contested fleet. Nikola Girke continued to revel in the stronger conditions (13-16 for most of the racing), placing fifth and fourth on the day to sit fifth overall. Zac Plavsic with a 20 – 5 sits 14th and remains in the hunt for the all important medal race.

On the Paralympic side of the slate, 2008 Gold Medallist Paul Tingley came out firing today and ultimately posted a 1-3-4 to climb to third overall, in what is his Paralympic selection event. Bruce Millar, Paul’s main combatant is mathematically still in the hunt, sitting fifth but has his work cut out for him in tomorrow’s final races. John McRoberts and Brenda Hopkin continue to do battle in the Skud event and currently sit sixth overall.

The racing for the Para teams wraps up tomorrow, (Friday) with the Olympic classes finishing their final series leaving only the Medal Race action for Saturday. All eyes will be anxiously watching the Canadian hopefuls as well as the intense challenges that are being waged in each fleet.

Wednesday Report
The wind gods in Weymouth blew true again today, and at time even too strong for some fleets. In reality it was a cherry day of racing, strong SW winds ranging from 16 to 22 knots, with gusts into the mid 25 range, initially the tide was running in line with the wind and thus the seas were modest, by mid afternoon modest would not be a way to describe things as the tide turned and the waves built into small mountains, well for Prairie folk they would have been big mountains. Needless to say the conditions provided some unbelievable spectacles.
At the mid-way point of the event things are starting to shape up both for the positive and the negative. With trials implications for many countries the tension has started to rise in the boat yard, and similarly for some Canucks the grip on the tiller has become somewhat more tense as performance or lack of performance starts to have bigger picture ramifications.

The top Canadians on the day once again went to the RSX class where Nikola Girke scored at 2 – 3 on the day to move into ninth overall, while Zac Plavsic in the men’s fleet put up a 3 – 12 which could have been on equal footing with Nik’s scores other than minor equipment issues. His scores moved him into 14th overall and well in the thick of the battle. David Wright continued with his consistent performance putting up a 14 – 12 and sits 23rd, while Isabella Bertold and Claire Merry continued to shine on the Radial course with 'Bert' scoring a 6 – 9 on the day to move up to 18th overall, while Claire had a 4 – 15 and currently sits 24th.

Today marked the end of the qualifying rounds for the Olympic classes with the finals starting tomorrow for the Gold and Silver fleet combatants. The forecast looks somewhat more moderate tomorrow which will undoubtedly present another series of challenges for the competitors.

The live blogging on the Sail for Gold site has been outstanding for breaking news and results. To follow results and news on the final days of racing click http://www.skandiasailforgoldregatta.co.uk/2011/!HERE.