Aussies push but one race left makes podium difficult

As stated after racing yesterday, PRO Kevin Wilson confirmed that competitors would be set a long race today, featuring Course 1 for the first time. With a course length of 2.0nm and an additional windward leg, this gave a predicted race duration of 110 minutes – a good half hour longer than any of races 1 to 7.

With the breeze sticking at 075° and blowing at 15kts, the swell was up around the 3m mark, offering great downwind surfing conditions. Right on schedule the P flag was removed and the 43-strong fleet charged for the line … a little too early, earning a general recall. The restart was under a U flag, with Land Rat and Gen XY positioning themselves within a hair’s breadth of the line at the head of a clean start.

By the first windward rounding, The Martian had pulled into the lead, with Hong Kong’s Frank van Kempen and Mark Thornburrow in 2nd and 3rd and Gen XY and Scimitar filling out the top five places. With the fleet favouring the starboard gate mark at the first leeward rounding, Marvin Beckmann was holding onto the lead, with van Kempen taking the port mark in 2nd and Gen XY in 3rd then it was off up the left again for a second beat. Beckmann still led the fleet at the second windward rounding, but with Steve Benjamin hot on his transom in 2nd, having made up a further two places on the beat. Gen XY rounded in 3rd ahead of van Kempen and Thornburrow.

By this time the signal boat had weighed anchor and was setting the finish line at the windward end of the track. By the time they saw the fleet again it was for the finish, with Benjamin and Beckmann in a tacking duel for the finish, with Scimitar taking the gun 21 seconds ahead of The Martian, followed by HKG1364Gen XY and Aretas, who had bested Racer X 2 on the final beat.

Generous in defeat (and still top of the leaderboard), Aretas owner, Jon McClean commented “it was an interesting day, a tough day in the office – we had a hard race, big breeze, lots of waves. Steve Benjamin sailed a great race – a beautiful race. I admired all his manoeuvres today.”

Coming in ten minutes behind the leaders, Thomas Cheung of Are We There Yet? remained upbeat, noting that “it’s been a great regatta, a real steep learning curve (and real steep waves) but it’s been a great experience even at the back of the fleet!”

With Aretas on 23 points after discard, and Scimitar on 28, the last word goes to Jon McClean, who wrapped up by saying “we have a job to do tomorrow. We always said it will come down to the last beat of the last race and it will be that way.”

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Jeanneau SF30 OD
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