Spanish Armada looking strong at 420 Nationals

After two days of racing, the 420 Nationals are dominated by Spanish competitors, who currently hold down the top three places on the leader board, followed by two French crews and one from New Zealand. The top Australian crew is Chris Charlwood and Josh Dawson, who improved their position from yesterday and now hold seventh place.

Breezes for day two were slightly stronger than yesterday, in the 13 – 15 knot range, but still a far cry from the famous Fremantle Doctor, which is typically upwards of 18 knots and often up to 25.

Yesterday’s leaders Pilar and Maria Caba Hernandez racked up another win, which combined with a second and a third today, still have them sharing the lead with compatriots Elaas Aretz Queck and Pablo Garcia Cranfield, both on 9 points after six races.

Fleets for today’s races were re-drawn overnight and it was the yellow fleet that consistently faced trouble today. Fremantle Sailing Club’s Principal Race Officer Kevin Wilson signalled a general recall in the first race and immediately followed up with a black flag. Even then a number of crews took on the start team and were black flagged. By contrast, the blue fleet followed them without incident in a beautifully executed start in their first try.

The second race of the day, in slightly stronger breeze, resulted in a virtual replay, with the yellow fleet again being recalled and trying a second time under black flag conditions.

As expected, the first rounding at the top mark was frantic for both fleets. A surprising number of crews sailed well above the layline, building up good speed as they bore away to the top mark, but sacrificing many places by overstanding. The same was obvious in the reach from the top mark to mark 2, where many crews elected to sail well above the layline early and paid the price when they were forced to square away in the final stages of the leg, watching helplessly as the boats sailing a more direct course flew past at speed.

Only one team came to grief today, capsizing on the first reaching leg, and being unable to lower the spinnaker, saw their boat capsizing immediately after being righted. Eventually they were assisted by their coach and retired from the race. Full marks for courage though, as the gutsy British girls were back on the start line for the final race of the day.

Notwithstanding that incident, racing was close and exciting, with results being much closer than expected due to lighter than expected breezes. It was particularly noticeable that many of the lighter crews are still competing at the top end of the fleet.

Kevin Wilson observed: “Because of the light breezes over these two days, the female crews have been more successful than usual because the male crews usually have a weight advantage which favours them in heavier winds”

As a pre-World event, the Nationals are providing a very good proving ground for international crews visiting Fremantle.

For detailed results:

– Bernie Kaaks

Jeanneau JY55
JPK August 2023
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