It was a day of mixed fortunes for the leading Australians at the A Class World Championships on Takapuna Beach. Overnight leader Glenn Ashby won the third race of the series by a country mile, then withdrew from the second with rudder failure. Compatriot Nathan Outteridge had a day to forget with major dramas in both races. “I broke everything!” he said afterwards.
When the drop comes into effect, Ashby will still be leading comfortably, but he is now carrying a DNF and can’t afford another bad race. Another Australian Olympic silver medallist, Andrew Landenberger has quietly accumulated a good scorecard and sits in second place behind Kiwi Peter Burling, with fellow Australian Scott Anderson in third.
Auckland has one similarity with Melbourne – if you don’t like the weather , wait an hour. So despite the forecast of light winds, we were greeted with rain and 15 knot westerlies mid-morning. The wind was pushing up to 18 knots in the gusts, which were frequent, by the time the first gun went.
Landenberger was the early leader, slipping around the top mark ahead of a tight bunch of mainly Australians and Kiwis. There was no sign of Outteridge and we later learned that the cleat holding his outhaul had failed and he was delayed behind the start line for over a minute before, in desperation, he tied a knot in it. He rounded the top mark 49th in a fleet of 70.
As usual, it was “all change” on the run and the placings continued to fluctuate with the wind. By the second top mark former world champion Mischa Heemskerk had worked his way to the front and a gap was forming between the front runners and the rest. This was exacerbated as the wind continued to move in both direction and strength and by the finish it was a five-man band.
Ashby sailed through the line with a big grin on his face, and was followed by Kiwis Burling, Blair Tuke, Ray Davies and the Dutchman Heemskerk.
When the following group finally crossed, Anderson (7th) and Landenberger (9th) were continuing their consistent form.
During the break between races, Nathan Outteridge performed emergency surgery on his outhaul and went for some foiling practice. All looked good, but it was not.
Blair Tuke nailed the start of the second race. He ran along behind the line on port and flicked onto starboard well to the right of the start boat. Timing his run to perfection, he slipped through the gap, tacked onto port and was gone.
Ashby’s luck ran out at the top mark. He spun the boat into a quick gybe and two M7 bolts on his rudder failed. “It fell off,” was his simple explanation. He was last seen heading back to the beach.
Meanwhile, Outteridge’s bad run continued, with the outhaul failing again and then the bungy on his trapeze wire broke. “I was hiking for a while, but I that wasn’t working,” he said. Then the wire got caught around the batten on the sail and drastic action was needed. After working back into sixth place after being 17th at the top mark, he deliberately stacked the boat and swam to the wire, retrieved it, tied a bowline and headed through the gate, again in 17th.
It is a measure of the man’s ability that he was able to work right back into the top pack, leading briefly before the outhaul again gave him trouble and he slipped to sixth. To add a final insult, as he crashed across the finish line his daggerboard case failed and he had to be towed back to the beach.
Meanwhile, Heemskerk took advantage of a big wind shift and raced to the front, sneaking across the line ahead of Landenberger , fellow Australian Adam Beattie, Tuke and Burling.
The drop will affect the placings, putting Ashby back in the lead. But after four races have been completed the unofficial points score shows Peter Burling leading on 21, two points ahead of Andrew Landenberger (23) with Scott Anderson (28), Blair Tuke 31, Ray Davies 32 and Nathan Outteridge 36. Ashby is theoretically in 18th.
Full results are posted at http://www.sailingeventstakapuna.com/bweb-information/results/.