The First day of the 2017 WALA States at Fremantle Sailing Club.
By Rick Steuart, Perth Sailing Photography
The first three races of the states were conducted under trying conditions with the PRO Robin Olsen having to deal with changing circumstances throughout the day. The advertised temperature of 38 degrees probably happened in the city or the eastern suburbs, but at least on the water we were a little cooler.
A light southerly had filled in prior to the start and there was the hope of a decent day, but the first look at the start line and the Laser fleets crowding up to the boat end put paid to any chance of a settled afternoon of wind. A number of lessons were learnt in the 4.7 fleet about banging corners. Wind shifts can leave you right out the door. Keeping the middle line can be advantageous on days like today.
It was interesting to see that the new carbon fibre top sections are now being worn. During the pre race discussions, some were a little against them as the tops will always spring back to where they should be. Some guys liked the modest bend on the top that a well raced ally top could develop.
However the best boats were always going to rise to the fore and during a demanding day with wind speeds and variations pushing the sailors to practice their skills, a number of leaders came out of the three fleets and pressed for advancement.
As expected in the standard rigs, Matt Wearne came good and was a clear leader, however it was a delight to see James Stewart engaged with Luke “Swifto” Elliot relegating Swifto to 3rd place in the first two races. In the Masters, Dave Whait has shown Bruce Utting his transom in two of the three races and is clear by three points.
In the radial fleet, Elyse Ainsworth has taken the lead. A good win in the first race and consistency leaves her in the lead at the end of the day in front of Marcus Fisk and Ethan McAullay. Three other fellows will have to work hard having posted UFD’s in the first race and I’m sure they’ll be looking for good performances for the rest of the regatta in order to advance their claims
In the 4.7’s Finn O’Dea posted two wins and a sixth and was thwarted by Mr. Consistency Michael Compton who banged in with two seconds and a third. Just a breath away was Jackson Porter on nine points.
For all that, the wind fluctuated, dropping in and out and swinging up to 15 degrees prompting one or two AP’s during the day. Not that the AP’s were a problem, but the last race was beset by a dying breeze that had the tail end of the standard fleet literally run out of time as the leaders had taken the last vestiges of the breeze and fled toward the line, with the remainder of the fleet left waiting on the water.
With another scorcher being predicted on Sunday and a similar breeze structure to Saturday, Robin and his team will work hard to avoid such nuisances and all we can do is hope that the breeze plays her part.
The second day of the 2017 WALA States at Fremantle Sailing Club.
Not much hope of a decent breeze was the topic at the morning coffee tables outside the centerboard club house and only at the briefing did we learn that the RO was certain of a good sou wester by late morning. Much against the current pundits and we were preparing for another hot day on the water.
Then the first wafts of a westerly wandered across the waves and we looked up to see the Indian ocean begin to fill with a gentle wind that was sure to bend into the left, producing the classic sea breeze. By one o’clock, the course was laid and 12 to 15 knots was coming in.
The standard rigs kicked away first and sure enough Matt Wearn was down around the pin end pushing away with the hard men surrounding him on his trip up to the top. His score line gives him the opportunity to rest the third day, but I don’t think that that’s in his make up and he’ll keep the pedal down to the finish. But it’s not him, its the youngster James (Jimmy) Stewart who is proving that he has what it takes to be the best. Another round of 2,2,3 has kept him up in the ratings and consistency is the key. However the first drop is in and Mark Wong has dropped a first race 5th to take third place over all.
The Standard Masters have only one man to blame and again Dave Whait has been pushing the younger sailors keeping young Lachy Gilham (lying 4th at the moment) behind him on occasion. The first drop has allowed Craig Hughes and Chris Pratt to shed their worst scores and move up the table in order to harass him.
Zac Littlewood spent no time putting his first day, first race UFD behind him posting a consistent 1,1,3. Elyse Ainsworth is sailing well and is still placing as top female. Ethan McAullay took the last race from Zac today and is showing that consistency will get you there and took second spot as a result. Mark Wong has placed consistently well and with the drop he has moved into third place. Zoe Thomson came out for a couple of races and it was nice to see her back on the coal face again. I still wonder what would have happened what would have happened if Caelin Winchcombe hadn’t have to miss the states, thanks to a recent surfing accident. I’m sure he’d have upset the apple cart for the radials at every opportunity. Please note that the second day results are under protest and may change.
The 4.7s have had it confirmed that Finn O’Dea is the current go to sailor and his performance on the water has been exemplary, picking the shifts and lifts to keep himself ahead consistently. Jackson Porter has taken the other two bullets of the series so far and is ready to pounce if Finn should falter on the last day as he is only three points behind. Michael Compton has a bit to do, but should place if he is consistent over the next two races.
The day ended with the breeze softening off and firmly remaining entrenched in the SSW. Those who went left profited overall but it was noted in the third race that the entire radial fleet saw (and felt) a huge shift that had them all flick over to starboard twenty meters out from the start line. Magnificent to watch and bad luck to those who continued on out to the left.
Fleet results on the WALA website