Tough fast paced Day 2 at the SB20 World Championship

Day 2 of the SB20 World Championship has started early due to the forecasted strong wind for the afternoon, and the Race Committee had the ambition of calling two races in. Boats made their way to the bay having found about 7-8 knots of warm breeze from NNE.

The first warning signal for Race 2 was sharp on time with the start following at 09:05 on Uniform flag, which resulted in a general recall. The fleet was favouring the left hand-side of the starting line closer to the shore.

At 09:16 the boats started again with clear start this time! Good start for Russian B-Team, team FFVoile Esquichade of Gabriel Skoczek, 470 Youth French sailor – Paola Amar (FRA3581), John Pollard on Xcellent and Ian Ainslie (ITA3099) who started mid line. The wind at the start was light with big waves and the forecast was for the wind to arrive for the start, which didn’t happen. The wind has built up during the first downwind and second upwind.

“We had a good start, came off the pin end of the left hand-side of the starting line. Rounded the windward mark in third, had a good run and got fourth to the leeward. Then after the second rounding the downwind run was a bit light on the right-hand corner, so we had to gybe and went to the left, where the wind came in very very strong,” – shared John Pollard, the recent winner of French Open Championship here in Hyères.

First rounding saw the French 470 team Paola Amar and Lara Granier in first followed closely by Robin Follin and then John Pollard and a big group of boats rounding together. They all continued straight and went to the right, again towards the shore. There were two boats that gybed early – Team Bernaz of Jean Baptiste Bernaz (FRA3093) and Breaking Bod of Charlie Whelan (GBR 3758) followed by some more boats going left already seeing more pressure there.

“It was a tricky race!’ – said first placed Robin Follin after racing. – “We knew the East wind will come after the start and it was better on Port, so we decided to start at the upwind pin with a long starboard to the fleet. We managed very well with shifts each time. We were second on the first mark, but about 5 or 6 boats went left off the upwind mark and they have beaten us,” – he added.

On the downwind rounding there was a big pack coming from the right with about 18-20 boats, but those who chose left and got the pressure definitely were in a better position. Then it was almost game done, the wind has built up to over 20 knots making it difficult for some boats to handle them.

First downwind saw a “LOB” situation (Lady Over Board) on Sail Navy with skipper Lizzy Farrington falling into the water after a rough gybe avoiding collision with another boat in front of them.  And while the crew was dropping kite and taking control of the boat to come back for her, she has already been quite far from them. Luckily fellow UK sailors on Dark’n’Stormy were nearby and saved her, sacrificing their own race!

“We had already rounded the leeward mark and were en route up the course and we saw her in the water on our course, at which point her boat was not yet close to her again, and as she had already been in the water a while and the whole crew immediately knew we would help her. We adjusted our course slightly and helped her into our boat, dropping our jib for a bit more control. Once she had had some fresh water we hailed over a rib to get her back to her boat. At this point we were so far behind we retired from racing, but we were given redress for our position, – shared Alida Lewis from Dark’n’Stormy about the rescue operation.

NB: Lizzy sends a special thanks to the Jury for saving her Dubarry that fell off!

team Sail Navy

By 9:30 the downwind was in full swing with at least three broachings, two of them on the left hand-side with one boat seriously struggling through the middle of the racecourse. 10 minutes later the leaders were already on the second beat having chosen again the left side upwind. It was the second rounding when things started to get really rough. With 22-25 knots reported on the finish line by then the leaders had to make sure they will get there without a trouble!

The second downwind also caused some damage resulting in a dismasted boat from Portugal. With everyone being safe and the boat too, the mast has already been replaced making the boat ready to race again! Another situation happened near the second top mark. Ian Ainslie was around the 10-12th position, when Gabriel Skoczek [SB20 World Champion 2018] tacked onto starboard on the lay line. Ian tried to duck behind them, but couldn’t. “We crashed them resulting in damage on their boat, so we immediately retired. We were in the wrong,” – commented Ian after racing. The jury has awarded a redress to Gabriel and placed them in 10th, where they had been before the collision. Hopefully team FFVoile Esquichade can fix the boat overnight and continue racing!

Further on the downwind it was almost job done for those who have secured the lead after the first downwind. Two blue kites being Breaking Bod and Team Bernaz were arriving to the finish line with some advantage. Following them were Robin Follin and Russian B-team fighting for the third position on reaching after the gates to the finish line, which resulted in Robin taking third and B-team fourth, making them second overall after two races.

“After the first downwind and some mistakes we had to catch up some places because we were 5th. We did a good job and finished third by beating two boats just before the finish line. We never give up!” – summarized the overall fleet leader Robin Follin.

Summing up this fantastic one-race day that the Race Committee managed to fit in just before the storm has crushed on Hyères, the Race 2 winner Charlie Whelan said:

“It was great to get up early this morning, still dark when we left the house, head down to rig the boat and out really confused seeing some light air. The wind arrived right in time for the start really. We started towards port side of the line. Got a bit of dirty air on the first beat and arrived at the top mark probably in 15th-20th. Just before we got to the mark we decided we were going to do an early gybe, which we did. We picked up some good pressure and waves and found ourselves leading at the bottom mark. Up the next beat we just went right and it was all safe from there. Made a good lay line calling and were very pleased to have won the race!”

Following the top three leaders there are two Australian teams – IMP of Andrew Smith and Aeolus of Brett Cooper. Their results on Day two were 10th and 9th, worse than on Day 1, but allowed to stay in a good position overall. Full results here.

Racing tomorrow is under question, bu the skippers will announce the news at 9:30.

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