A Light Touch Required

The opening day of the SAP 505 Worlds at Weymouth and Portland fully tested the fleet of 140 boats in light airs.  The two hour delay to allow the wind to build to the minimum 6kts required to start had clearly allowed some competitors to develop excess adrenalin.  The first two starts had to be aborted as over eager competitors collided with the gate boat instead of passing cleanly behind it.  The third start did get away without incident, but five competitors still managed to be classified as premature starters by going through the gate before the starting signal.
Any student of 505 history will know that the pre-worlds series is seldom a reliable harbinger of the main event, and this certainly proved to be the case in the first two races.  In the first race Australia’s Mike Quirk and Reeve Dunn got on the favourable side of a shift to the right and popped around the first mark in first place.  Their lead was rarely threatened although defending it from the pursuing pack required all the Australian pair’s full concentration.  Second place was being hotly contested between Ian Pinnell and Alex Davies (GBR), the USA pairing of Tyler Moore and Andrew Buttner, and Tom Gillard and Richard Anderton (GBR).  However, another GBR team, Nathan Batchelor and Sam Pascoe were picking the shifts well and climbing through the fleet, breaking into the leading group as the race progressed.  At the gun Quick and Dunn were clear ahead in first with Pinnell and Davies runners up and Batchelor and Pascoe snatching third.
Conditions remained much the same for the start of the second race, but this time the fleet behaved itself at the start and filed behind the pathfinder team of Jan Saugmann and Jakob Karbo (DEN) in a neat and orderly fashion.  When released from their pathfinder duties, the Danish pair opted to carry on out to the right-hand side of the course, anticipating that the next oscillation of the breeze would favour that side.  Saugmann, a two times World Champion in the class proved that he regularly anticipates such shifts better than most and rounded the top mark with an impressive lead.  The wind then threatened to die away, prompting the Race Officer to call a shortening of the course at the end of the third upwind leg in order to meet the 505 class’s preferred time target for championship races.  Saugmann and Karbo crossed with a lead of nearly a minute and a half ahead of two German teams, Thure Gnadeberg and Aron Tellen and the all female pair, Nicola Birkner and Angela Stenger, who clearly enjoyed the lighter conditions.
On a day when many of the pre-event favourites struggled, and others matched one good result with a dive down the fleet, the early leaders with their second place in Race 1 and an eighth in Race 2 are Pinnell and Davies, just ahead of the Danish pair.  However, some of the other big beasts will be licking their wounds and determined to come out fighting tomorrow, when just one race is scheduled.
Quirk and Dunn on their way to victory in the opening race © Christophe Favreau
Jan Saugmann and Jakob Karbo show the way in Race 2 © Christophe FavreauLight conditions tested the crews concentration © Christophe Favreau