|District 13 Regatta Report|| |
Mon Jun 4th, 2012 through Sat Jun 9th, 2012
Skandia podium Photo: onEdition.
| Day One: Skandia Sail for Gold 2012 kicked off today, featuring almost all of the medal contenders for the upcoming Olympic Games.|
Over seven hundred athletes from 59 nations poured out onto Portland Harbour and Weymouth Bay, the cream of world sailing ready to put a marker down for the coming Olympiad. But conditions were tough, the forecast was for a transitional day, with a new wind arriving and strengthening throughout the rest of the week. So while Portland Harbour and Weymouth Bay delivered racing, it did so in fits and starts.
The story out on the Star race course - the furthest from the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy - was typical of the day. They went out in the morning, were sent back to the beach for lunch without any action, were then hauled back out on the water again in the afternoon to finally get a race in. After all that, it was Michael Hestbaek who took the win in the Stars with four-time medallist (two gold and two silver), Robert Scheidt in fourth.
Day Two: If all you see of Olympic sailing is the medal race it would be easy to believe that the sport is intense, dramatic and short, and while it has those features, it's also about endurance. And it was endurance that was tested at Skandia Sail for Gold today.
The British weather turned it on for the Queen's 60th Jubilee celebrations with steady and occasionally torrential rain, cold temperatures and a steadily increasing breeze. It was a day to test the focus and commitment of even the toughest of athletes.
The Star class share the most distant course on the Weymouth and Portland sailing waters with the Finn, and they too had three races scheduled, and sailed them. It was the Irish team, - perhaps enjoying the weather more than some of their competitors - that had the best day. Peter O'Leary and David Burrows scored a first, second and fourth to hold a two point lead from the World Champions, Robert Scheidt and Bruno Prada.
Robert Scheidt was one of those not enjoying the weather so much. "We are really happy with those results but also quite tired with it being a rough day and doing three races. Six- seven hours on the water so I am very much looking forward to a shower!"
Another man having a tough day was the 1988 Star Gold Medallist, Mike McIntyre, whose return to the fleet ended badly - he was on port tack on the first beat of the second race when John Gimson tried to duck behind him. The manoeuvre went badly wrong and Gimson crashed into the gold medallist - fortunately McIntyre had borrowed the boat from Gimson!
Day three:The weather forecast for the second half of Skandia Sail for Gold has been a hot topic of conversation for a while, and today it started to happen.
The wind picked-up this morning, and by the afternoon it was a challenging twenty knots and change for most race courses. Once again, the stamina of the athletes was tested to the limit - and it’s just going to get windier.
The Stars saw a fabulous return to world class form for Iain Percy and Andrew 'Bart' Simpson. They scored a first and a second to move to the overall lead, with just a one point advantage from long-term Brazilian rivals, Robert Scheidt and Bruno Prada. Dropping to third and two points behind were the Irish pair of Peter O'Leary and David Burrows, with Richard Clarke and Tyler Bjorn from Canada just another point behind the Irish.
Iain Percy was cheerful, "A much better day today, found a lot more speed upwind and we are still working on our downwind, so managed to get a two and a one. Half way through the regatta and it all starts again with any number of boats still in the medals."
Day Four: Racing abandoned.
The weather poured onto the Weymouth and Portland Bay’s race courses causing cancellations, postponements and some full on racing for those classes that did get out there. The racing schedule had already been moved forward to an early start to try to beat the inbound gale – forecast to arrive in the afternoon. But the weather system hit fast forward and by early morning it was already too windy for any Paralympic racing. The rest of the schedule was rejigged and in the end, all the Olympic classes except the Stars got at least one race in.
The Star boys had a miserable day, no not on the race course, but in the inordinate amount of time spent twiddling their thumbs on the shore. Originally scheduled for a 1000 start, the fleet was ready to go, until a 2 hour postponement was scheduled, to wait for the wind to abate, yeah right...its blowing 40 knots at 1600 and finally they are released for the day, after getting to enjoy each other's company in the cafeteria or other assorted locations throughout the day.
Day Five: The storm was building to its peak as the athletes left Skandia Sail for Gold on Thursday afternoon, and overnight it blasted Weymouth and Portland with winds in excess of fifty knots.
Waves broke over the famous Chesil Bank, the rain poured down and the venue was cleared in case of flooding. Welcome to the British summer.
By Friday morning the wind had not abated and at 14:30 racing was called off for the day for everyone. Tomorrow, the top ten in each Olympic class will race for gold, silver and bronze.
Medal race: One storm had passed, but another was brewing - it was Saturday and it was medal race day at Skandia Sail for Gold and the drama was just beginning. There were ten classes and thirty medals to decide, and not one of them was a certainty.
After a week of tumultuous weather, the sun finally came out and the wind moderated to a perfect 15 knots for the opening races, building to a fresh 20-22 knots for the final medals. The action took place on two courses, one inside the harbour and the other under the Olympic spectator site on the Nothe.
The heavyweights in the Star class – reigning Olympic champions Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson had a slim one-point lead over their main rivals, four-time Olympic medallist Robert Scheidt and his sailing partner Bruno Prada. The Irish and Canadian crews were just a couple of points back.
Off the start line, the leading pair headed left, but it was the right that paid. A port and starboard incident up the first beat meant the Brazilian duo had to do penalty turns, and it demoted them to the back of the fleet. With O’Leary and Burrows in second at the leeward gate the Irish were now in pole position for gold, with the British and Brazilians fighting to hang onto silver and bronze. On the second beat, Scheidt headed right whilst Percy opted for the left again. At the top mark, Brazil had pulled up to sixth with the two-time British gold medallist two places adrift in eighth.
There was now a potentially mast-breaking 20-23 knots of breeze on the race course, and Scheidt and Prada surfed their way into fourth, while the Irish team had dropped to third. But it wasn’t enough, gold went to Ireland’s Peter O’Leary and Davis Burrows, while Scheidt and Prada took silver, with Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson having to settle for bronze.
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