Nationals Day 3 – Top positions get tighter


Northerly winds meant Day 3 gave the sailors a whole new course to challenge them. Not only did they have to contend with weed, the wind changed from fresh to non-existent and back again. Just as the previous day, no leg was the same.

Race 5, the first of the day, saw the sailors heading up the lake, away from the dam wall, but a lot closer to lunch. The usual suspects got off to flying starts, aided by the brisk north-norwesterly winds. Tim Davison (846) was well ahead by the first mark. But others were closing in, and by the leeward mark, Toby Cooper (887) was second behind him, and Robbie Claridge (878) had made up for a bad start to be third. Not that he had it his own way. Racing for positions first through to fifth was extremely tight.

It was the closest race of the series so far. Only the lack of distance and a slighty wrong position at X and D made the difference between Davison and Cooper coming up to the line. By lap 4, however, Cooper had headed Davison. And that was how it stayed for the rest of the race, with Andy Matthews (881) third, and Nicola Barrett, keeping her nerve and sailing for the committee boat rather than the pin end of the line, took a well-deserved fourth from Richard Keefe, fifth.

The second race of the day, Race 6, had even more challenges. The first start was abandoned, seconds from starting, as a sudden starboard wind shift meant that the part of the fleet behind the front boats would not be able to start at all. The second start, with sailors impatient but jittery, saw an Individual Recall. It was possibly the bright orange colour of the sail that got him spotted.

Once started, the sailors were on course for a decently long, close, and technically challenging race. Matthews had already got well ahead by using the right hand side of the course, and the PRO was pleased, because there were split sails on the run.

Then the wind went, officially, pants. Gone. Left the building. Nobody was going anywhere. At nearly an hour into the race, with only two boats having passed the first mark of the second lap, there was a consulting of racing rules and discussion about what to do next. Thankfully, the decision was taken by the wind returning, shortening the race considerably.

It was tight for the first three places, with Cooper, Claridge and Matthews all vying for position. Cooper took first approaching the leeward mark, and though Matthews tried to pass him, he held him off to take line honours. Claridge was third, with Roger Witts (885) a very, very close fourth.

One more race to go. It could come down to the maths.