Thursday, 7 January 2010

Splash Worlds: Leaders’ fortunes reversed after day of light winds

Splash Worlds day 3. Image copyright Will Calver/

The mood of the weather gods did an about face for Day Three of the Splash World Sailing Championship sailed off picturesque Takapuna Beach in Auckland, New Zealand, with light and variable conditions seeing a new group of sailors take over the top spots

by Zoe Hawkins

After two days of robust and often challenging breeze, and a morning spent on standby waiting for enough wind to start a race, the final two races of the qualifying series were started in 5-8 knots of breeze coming from the North-East.

The lighter conditions meant that according to provisional results, Chris Steele (NZL) replaced Ben Lutze (NZL) in the prime position today, with reigning champ Declan Burn (NZL) in second, and Michael Cate (NZL) third.

George Lane (NZL) is fourth position, and Bart Sluijter (NED) and Mathieu de By (NED) are the first internationals in the rankings. Ben Lutze has dropped to seventh, and Michael Kamp (NED) has dropped from second to eighth place. James Little (Remuera) and Frank Woltman (NED) are new entrants to the top ten, occupying ninth and tenth respectfully.

“Chris’s consistent podium finishes are a credit to him,” says event spokesperson Helen McKenzie, of the former Optimist World Championship holder. “He is not used to racing the Splash dinghy, but he is excelling.”

While light conditions generally favour light sailors, she says that Michael Cate is a physically bigger sailor in the class, who was able to win his second race of the day. “Good results for these guys are still do-able. The points spread is close, and the podium is wide-open.”

Some of the female sailors in the fleet came to the fore today. Following a third and a fourth, reigning Champ Nienke de Jorna (NED) is now the top female, four points ahead of Kiwi Laura Hemingway, and 21st overall.

Entrants are now divided into Gold and Silver fleets. Thuree races are to be held on Thursday and two on Friday, and the winner of the Gold fleet will be world champion.

The breeze is expected to be light again tomorrow, with a Westerly change. Friday should bring more consistent sailing.

The Splash Dinghy is a fast, modern single handed dinghy designed for sailors under the age of 19. Favoured for its ability to build confidence in mostly teenage sailors, the boat is a step up from the Optimist, and a precursor and training vessel for the Laser class raced by both men and women at the Olympic Games.

The line up at the 2010 Splash World Sailing Championships includes 73 youth sailors from 12 countries. New Zealanders have been world champions in the class in 2000, 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2009, and in 2009 New Zealand also won the Nations Cup at the Splash World Champs held in Europe.

Racing proper started at 11am on Monday 4 January, and conditions permitting, 13 races will be held, finishing on Friday 8 January, and followed by a prizegiving on the Friday evening.

Takapuna Boating Club is organising the Splash World Sailing Championships, with support from North Shore City Council, SPARC, The Lion Foundation, Victoria Cruising Club and Yachting New Zealand.

The best spot for viewing is the beachfront reserve around Takapuna Boating Club on Takapuna Beach, where boats will be readied and launched from the beach each morning, or on the waters between Takapuna Boating Club and Rangitoto Island, from the first start at 11am.

Prizes will be awarded to the winner of the Open Splash Championship, the best female winner, and the country with the lowest total points from amongst their three best sailors.

Takapuna Boating Club

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