Markus Wieser UKR 7 crewed by Sergey Pugachev and Matti Paschenhave taken the overall lead “Down Under” with three consistent top ten positions, his 6th place yesterday was good enough when added to his previous 9th & 5th to make a 20 pts total and lead the fleet by 5 pts. His fellow team Transbunker friend Yevgen Braslavez UKR 9 actually won today’s race and climbed up to 3rd overall.

Race three eventually got underway late in the afternoon (Tues) here in Melbourne, as the 72 boat fleet had to wait patiently ashore until PRO Kevin Wilson adjudged there was sufficient wind to start a fair race. With a “Lay Day” scheduled for today (Weds) the race committee are somewhat under pressure to complete a full 8 race series, so it must have been a huge relief to them to get a race in……………..

The race was eventually started under a “Black Flag” at the third attempt, with boats crammed three rows deep at the committee boat end. Of those that managed to control their final approach to the line and get away cleanly, GER 996 Tommy Muller and GBR 751 Lawrie Smith both made the best of a short clearing tack to the right and then a long “Full Speed” cross to the favoured left side further up the course. Others that were not so lucky to clear the line quickly had to hope that the right side would pay, as they had to continue right searching for that magic ingredient “Clear Air” before tacking back onto starboard. However boats further down the line that sailed straight out of the middle were also doing well, so sometimes in big fleets it is advisable to make a more conservative start………… this is where the UKR boats started as they each settled for a top 15 position at the top mark.

Another boat that is sailing extremely well is SWE 341 Martin Palsson, crewed by Goren Alm and Johan Norem, but they must have been concerned when they were first adjudged to be over the line, hence Black Flagged and therefor DSQ.  However, after being allowed to continue the race, photographic evidence proved them to be safe, so their World Championship is still very much alive. It’s worth noting at this point that the BF rule saysthat a race committee “May” pull boats out at the first windward mark, this usually happens with a loud whistle blast and a blackboard displaying DSQ boat numbers..  Had this been in operation for this event it would have been interesting to see how the international jury would have dealt with Martin’s situation…..As now his 4th position yesterday deservedly gives him the overall runners up spot behind Wieser.

So with GER 996 leading GBR 751 around the top mark both Tommy and Lawrie must have thought it would be a battle just between the two of them for the remainder of the race…   but yacht racing is never that easy and a substantial windshift on the second upwind leg proved costly for both the leaders.

When approaching the leeward gate crews have to decide which buoy to round, it is such a dilemma at times because once rounded leading boats have to continue on the chosen tack until they clear all the spinnakers. Sometimes this can take up to 4-5 mins, but to tack back into the oncoming traffic would be both dangerous and unwise. So with the wind moving 15 degree’s to the left, it was too late for Tommy and Lawrie to tack back to cover boats making huge gains on the port hand side of the course….

One of the boats who made the most of this shift was “Corinthian” sailor David Dirk GER 1070 who with is team of Mark Baver and Stefan Abel now hold 6th position overall after finishing in 2nd place yesterday and lead the 22 boats who are separately competing for this “Non Professional” magnificent Trophy..  Well sailed gentlemen and keep up the good work..

In the evening all the competitors were treated to a “European” night, where the German teams generously sponsored food and copious amounts of alcohol throughout the evening. Hendrick’s Gin proved to be the most popular drink of the party which saw the 84 year old veteran sailor Gordon Ingate dancing the night away with 16 yr old competitor Juliette Ten Wolde, with a combined age of exactly 100 years…  there seems to be no end to Gordon’s stamina…   or was it the Hendrick’s Gin……..

For the record UKR 7 leads 20 pts, SWE 341 25 pts, UKR 9 28 pts, GBR 751 29 pts & AUS 208 30pts. However there are any number of top class boats who could still take the title, with another 5 races planned it would take a brave man to predict the winner. After the lay day today teams will return to the waters on Port Phillip and have two races both Thursday and Friday with the final race on Sat. More wind is forecast, in fact a considerable amount of wind, so lets hope it’s not too much (28 kts), I just wish it would stop bloody RAINING……….

Higher, Faster, Longer, Wetter……………………  Stavros.  (NED 372)..