The second day of the WASZP Nationals witnessed tumultuous conditions as an unrelenting Northerly weather system descended upon Sorrento Sailing & Couta Boat Club, testing the 80-strong WASZP Fleet.
Ironically, the day commenced with the abandonment of the first race due to a lack of wind. However, the second race, marking the onset of the Nationals, saw the fleet compete in perfect 15-knot conditions, characterised by intense and close racing among participants. Italian Francesco Bertone jumped out to an early lead and was really dominating the fleet before a huge pitch pole down the final run caused him to fall back. Denmark sailor Magnus Overbeck who won Sail Melbourne and finished 2nd in the 2023 European Games took a commanding lead all the way to the finish.
International sailors made up the first 4 places, withe reigning champion Sam Street working his way through the fleet, while flying frenchman, Hippolyte Gruet finished 3rd. The first Aussie was Hugo Allison from Tasmania, followed by championship heavyweights Louis Tilly from NSW and Tom Trotman from Victoria.
Hattie Rogers had solid moments overall, leading the abandoned race and finishing 20th overall in race 1, while Helena Sanderson from New Zealand finished 30th as the top two women competitors.
Trouble brewed in the third race of the day as racing began under superb conditions. Yet, as the fleet approached the top mark, the weather took a turn for the worse. Winds escalated to the mid 20s, creating a maelstrom environment compounded by a ripping tide working against the wind. The wave state grew increasingly challenging to navigate, resulting in even seasoned sailors experiencing multiple falls during the run.
However, the apex of the ordeal manifested at the top mark, where a peculiar convergence of shallow waters created a perplexing and chaotic wave state, leading several boats to head down the mine, seemingly vanishing amidst the turmoil. Approximately 10 boats managed to manoeuvre through the tumultuous conditions and commenced the return upwind before the race had to be inevitably abandoned due to the hazardous wind intensity.
The extreme conditions posed a significant challenge to the fleet, pushing both sailors’ skills and equipment to their limits. Despite the disruptions, the vibe among participants remains resolute as they gear up to tackle tomorrows races as we try and complete the remainder of the regatta.
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