The final day of qualifiers in Split, Croatia delivered the promised 20-knot south-easterly wind, gusting up to 27 knots, lending itself to great surfing conditions downwind with a tough workout upwind.
If there were any doubts that Laser sailing is not athletic, they were quelled today watching the world's best battle of skill in three back-to-back races.
On the reaches, boat speed touched 15 knots in the gusts. Downwind, there were many sleigh rides on the steep waves, including some unintended rail riding. Throughout each race places were gained and lost on each leg, adding to the excitement.
Defending champion Nick Thompson (GBR) scored his best result so far with a third in the first race of the Red fleet, sailing the inner loop, followed by his first bullet of the series.
He said, “It was hard work but good fun. The current was not so relevant today, which gave a more open course. Unfortunately, I broke my tiller in the third race and that became my discard.
“We’re still only at the halfway stage so I’m pleased that I have started to move upwards. I’m only 13 points behind Pavlos Kontides (Cyprus) in first place, which is not a large margin over six races, especially in the super competitive Gold fleet.”
In the Yellow fleet, Kontides scored the same 3,1 score as Thompson, but suffered gear damage at the start of his third race. This means he and Thompson are the only sailors with a big discard.
The best score of the day went to Jean-Baptiste Bernaz from France with a one, two, one in the Red fleet. The 2016 World Championship silver medallist is once again sailing a consistent series in all conditions. He goes into the final six races with only one score that is outside first and second.
Olympic Gold medallist, Tom Burton (AUS), sailing in the Blue fleet, helped himself to two bullets, leading from start to finish in his last races of the day, after a reasonable seventh in the first race. These results lifted him 11 places up to sixth.
Matthew Wearn (AUS) also had a another good day with 1,2,2 which lifted him three more places into third overall.
Sunday’s start has been postponed until 13:00hrs due to a predicted low pressure system causing a 180-degree change in the wind and probably a change in the course area.
Preliminary top-ten results:
1. Pavlos Kontides CYP 7pts
2. Jean-Baptiste Bernaz FRA 8pts
3. Matthew Wearn AUS 9pts
4. Sam Meech NZL 9pts
5. Philippp Buhl GER 13pts
6. Tom Burton AUS 17pts
7. Thomas Saunders NZL 19pts
8. Nick Thompson GBR 20pts
9. Elliot Hanson GBR 23pts
10. Sergey Komissarov RUS 23pts