Racing intensifies as finals get underway at ILCA 7 World Championship

Lighter winds were seen today in Vallarta, Mexico for the ILCA 7 World Championship with a moderate 9 to 11-knot thermal breeze on the course.

It took the Race Committee three attempts to get competition underway with the fleet punching the start line early on the first day of gold fleet racing.

Three-time Olympic gold medal-winning coach Michael Blackburn knows all too well the intensity of an ILCA 7 World Championship and the excitement of finals racing.

“It can be a shock to the system as the competition feels like it more than doubles compared with qualifying racing. The importance of the starts goes up another notch and everyone knows it, I see that contributed to the nine Black Flag penalties in the first race today.

“The Aussies did well to avoid the Black Flags, but it’s a fine line because if you don’t push hard enough on the start you’ll be back in the 30-40s at the top mark.”

Finn Alexander rounding mark with fleet behind him.
Finn Alexander is placed 15th overall. Pic – John Pounder

NSWIS athlete Finn Alexander got that balance right today, as he got away beautifully in both races to came away with a 15th and a third, leaping him into 15th overall. 

Alexander was pleased with his third place, “I was actually leading around the top mark and the wing mark and that was pretty good, but I let a couple through on the downwind,” Alexander remarked.

“The biggest priority for sure is just getting off the start line at the favoured end cleanly and being able to sail your own way.

“I was pretty happy to do that in both races but the second one I was patient enough to pick my line and use some good upwind speed and hike it down for the rest of it.”

It was a bit tougher for Luke Elliott and Ethan McAullay, as they both struggled getting off the start line in the 63-boat fleet. The Western Australians slipped down the overall rankings with both collecting high points and utilising their series discard.

With eight races completed a second discard may come into play tomorrow as two races are scheduled for the second day of finals racing.

Zac Littlewood missed out on gold fleet after some challenges earlier in the week, yet had a solid day racing in the Silver fleet with a 10th and a second moving him up 14 places. Blackburn still sees this as an opportunity for the 21-year-old to learn some racing skills.

“Zac is battling in Silver fleet having learnt some strong lessons early in the regatta. He will also benefit from more accuracy around the starts,” Blackburn commented.

Young Tasmanian Sam King moved up 12 positions in the overall standings after a consistent day on the water.

Finals racing continues tomorrow with both the gold and silver fleet ready to take on Banderas Bay for the penultimate day of competition.

Full results:

Australian Sailing Team (AST)Australian Sailing Squad (ASS),  and Australian Sailing Futures (ASF) entries:

ILCA 7 (126 boats):

15th – Finn Alexander (ASS) 20, (23), 20, 6, 9, 7, 15, 3 – 83 points

32nd – Luke Elliott (AST) 1, 32, 32, 3, 14, 25, (45), 35 – 137 points

40th – Ethan McAullay (ASS) 34, 16, 26, 4, 22, 17, (41), 35 – 153 points

49th   – Sam King (ASF) 24, 13, 28, (47), 38, 27, 32, 19 – 181 points

77th – Zac Littlewood (AST) (DSQ), 26, 21, DNC. 51, 35, 2, 10 – 209 points

Matt Wearn (AST) – DNC (withdrawn from competition)

By Lisa Darmanin

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