The moment we have all been waiting for had arrived and the Sailors and Coaches were keen to go racing. Soon there was a crackle of new sails flogging in a breeze of 20 knots as the fleet launched and made their way to the race course. Two races were scheduled.
The wind quickly grew to 25 knots. They call it ‘the Freemantle Doctor’ as strong sea breeze blows off the Indian Ocean into the town during summer months and cools what would otherwise be a very hot and dusty land. The Doctor was to present a number of challenges to the GBR team.
Three hours or so later, the first GBR boat back to shore was Rob Giardelli who said “it was horrible out there, we capsized and didn’t make it to the start of the first race”. It was a similar tale for a number of crews in the strong wind.
Gemma Keers and Izzy Davies fared best with a 4th in the first race and 7th in the second – a great start in the Ladies category. Rhys Lewis and Drew Wright capsized in the first race in the under 17 category and clawed back to finish 20th. They were looking good in the second race, rounding the windward mark in third when they suffered a spinnaker pole problem but still finished 7th. Elenor Keers and Aaron Chadwick put in two amazing results, both of 12th position. This was an impressive performance in the Open fleet which included much older and bigger 470 sailors.
The controversy of the day occurred when a mark drifted and some of the fleet over stood its new position. Arguments raged in the Dinghy Park, protests were lodged and the Race Committee took the decision to abandon the second race for the Open fleet. This was great news for some GBR sailors but a cruel blow to Keers and Chadwick after such fantastic sailing. This means the Open fleet will do three races, rather than the usual two, tomorrow. No doubt the arguments will continue in the morning.
The drama of the day was a capsize from Ellie Driver and Rachel Cross on the way back in, just in front of the rocks of the Marina wall. Coach, Neil Marsden, was quick to the rescue and averted disaster by towing the boat backwards against waves and tide, filling the RIB in the process.
Lighter wind is forecast for tomorrow.
Report and photographs by Clive Wright