Feeling the heat in Medemblik

With temperatures up to 35 degrees, the action on day 3 of the Rooster Topper Worlds was certainly hotting up! After a slight delay ashore, Wednesday’s race 6 for the 4.2’s got off in 6-8 Knots with the breeze at 110 degrees. The fleet again started proceedings and a tough tactical battle ensued as sailors chased the shifty breeze. Whilst a couple of shifts to the right attracted some to that side of the course, it was generally the left side that delivered the greater pressure and brought a new winner to the fore, Rían Collins (IRL), breaking the previous domination of Yushuo Liao (CHN), who finished 2nd. Having mastered the conditions, Rían followed it up with a 6th place in the second and final race of the day. Also relishing the lighter conditions was Bjorn Handley, who bought his 2006 boat in second, ahead of Yichen Cai (CHN).

The white and blue flights of the 5.3 fleets got off after a general recall but most of the fleet still headed out to the left in search of the best of the breeze. Cillian Foster, liking the taste of his first Worlds race win the previous day went back for more, plus seconds! With three back-to-back wins Cillian rocketed up the standings to finish the qualification series in 13th spot.

Meanwhile, the yellow and red flights got off to a clear start in decent 8 knot breeze, evenly spread along the line, indicating the divergence of opinion as to the best route upwind. Dan Meadowcroft (GBR) played the shifts well up the middle left to round first, ahead of Yikang Su and Chuyi Zhang -both highly experienced in light airs sailing. On the second upwind of the trapezoid course the breeze built to 10 knots and Meadowcroft showed his mastery of the shifts to extended his lead to 400m, taking the gun from Su and Charlie Hopkinson (GBR) in third.

The wind, suppressed by the 30-degree temperature came in pulses – compressing the fleets on the downwinds. When the breeze dropped the lighter sailors put pressure on the larger leaders ahead, further compounded by a strengthening wind coming up from behind to further test the nerves. Those few tempted to add a little extra speed by rocking their bodies to fan the sail were swiftly flagged by the International Jury, but in the main the fleet was impressively was impressively well behaved.

The final 5.3 races of the day were held in the remains of the day’s 7-8 knot breeze, with sailors sitting up forward by the mast, scouting for the best of the wind. In the white & red flights, Chris Marsh (GBR) showed great boat handling skills, pirouetting round in the small space by the Committee boat, protecting his starting spot before tacking off to the right on the gun. At the first mark it was Leo Wikinson (GBR) who rounded first, just ahead of Neil O’Leary (IRL), James Deaton (GBR) and Ali Holborn (GBR). Many of the packed mid fleet struggled to make the mark due to a noticeable current running downwind. One port tacker had to bail out twice when faced with a wall of starboard tackers rounding the mark and to compound his misery was then forced onto the buoy.

As the evening breeze faded Race Officer Remco wisely shortened the race at mark 2. Leo Wilkinson had extended to record his first win of the series by a considerable margin and Deaton had squeezed past 0’Leary to score his best result of the qualifying series. Ashore after a long and testing day, the sailors were all keen to unwind and the Midweek BBQ and Nations party was the perfect antidote. All the Nations provided a taste of their country with typical national dishes and treats. The sailors then took to the stage with some great acts, the winner being judged to be the USA team from Hawaii with their Hula dance that got all the other sailors joining in.