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Muller Still Leads in Melbourne..
Day three of the Prince Phillip Cup saw 65 boats make a clean start on race 5 (the first of two races today) in a light southerly 7kt breeze. The race started in flat water and allowed the chance for all boats and crew’s to show their skill at sail trimming and tactics over a 2.5 mile first beat. It was hard to judge from the 10 minute warning which side would pay, as the right seem to have more pressure, but the left could work as the land would have an affect further up the course…. I was onboard NED 372 helmed by it’s owner Wouter Ten Wolde (sailing in his first International Regatta), crewed also by his daughter Juliette, and we gained enormously from the left hand side of the course after starting at the Pin end of the line. Many of the leading contenders opted for the right hand side of the course, or the middle which looked good for a long time but lost pressure towards the top mark. Of the overall leaders DEN 401 Joergen Schoenherr and UKR 8 Lars Hendrickson were soon to realise the left was paying and both were rewarded with a top 10 finish of 5th and 6th respectively. However Tommy Muller and Richard Lynn were to record their worst scores to date by finishing in the 20’s. Although they both knew it could hopefully be discarded and still keep them very much in contention for overall glory.
The other top contender RUS 27 Anatoly Loginov made some marvelous tactical manoeuvres and clawed his way back to 11th place, which would definitely have to count as the had already recorded a 19th place in race 3. The race was eventually won by UKR 7 Markus Wieser who seems to be coming to terms with setting up his new boat, he then decided to abandon the race course and sail off into the sunset for boat tuning rather than compete in race 6, obviously he just has his sights on the Worlds next week. However one boat who was out there trying really hard and having an excellent race by finishing 2nd, was SWE 345 Jacob Wallenberg, crewed by Carl Johan Friis and Henrik Baltscheffsky they showed great speed bothupwind and downwind. The race was again finished on the second run so that the new line could be quickly set for the 6th race in an increasing breeze of around 10-12kts.
Despite a left hand shift in the first race many of the fleet opted to start race 6 at the starboard end of the line where there was a slight bias. After another clean start the fleet again split left and right all searching for that little bit of extra pressure or a favourable wind shift that would give an advantage. Our experienced IDA “Chairman” Robert Campbell (fresh from his swim in race 3) GBR 743 made a super start from the pin end and succeeded in crossing many of the fleet half way up the first beat. But for nearly the first time over the three days of racing, the right hand side produced a shift that RUS 27 immediately pounced on, to lead at the weather mark. Such tactical awareness is often shown by Anatoly’s crew, that they always seem to be in the right place at the right time. UKR 8 Lars Hedrickson also had an excellent first beat as did AUS 208 Richard Lynn and the ever improving GER 1056 Burkhard Kees. Meanwhile GER 996 Tommy Muller was having the fight of his life as he tried to gain places from a mediocre position, knowing that his championship bid hung very much in the balance!
As the race unfolded over the full three upwinds and two down wind leg’s, Hendriksen showed why he is certainly in with a chance of taking the World Crown next week and going that one place better than he did at the last Worlds in Medemblik, when he finished runner up to “The Man” PR Hoj-Jensen in 2009…by snatching the victory from Loginov. With Kees finishing a deserved 3rd place and more importantly Lynn recording a 4th, which keeps him very much in overall contention and a chance to regain the trophy he won last year… However, Muller not one to ever give up managed to scramble a 10th place and by discarding his morning race, still leads the championship by 5pts…………
With only one race to be sailed tomorrow anyone of the top 5 boats GER 996, DEN 401, RUS 27, AUS 208 or UKR 8 can take the title and become the proud winner of the Prince Phillip Cup 2011………
Who’s your money on…………. Higher, Faster, Longer…………… Stavros.