Closing on podium, loosing to leader as World title fades

Breeze came back strong on the penultimate day. In the last race of the day,Artemis showed what they can do when they have their moment but in the strong breeze and tricky wave a wild broach ended hopes on winning that race.

Cowes has been real tricky but even more tricky for us. We just haven’t figured out which side to bet on and that has been crucial here. We will try to end on a high note. Even though the title is out of reach, we still have a chance of ending on the podium, state Artemis helm Kristian Nergaard. tell the story:

Cowes produced a complete contrast of conditions on the penultimate day of the 2018 International 5.5 Metre World Championship at the Royal Yacht Squadron with wind ranging from 5 to 22 knots. However New Moon, BAH 21, (Mark Holowesko, Christoph Burger, Peter Vlasov) mastered both races to take two race wins and with it the overall lead with just two races to sail.

The defending champion, John B, BAH 22, (Gavin McKinney, Lars Horn-Johannessen, Mathias Dahlman) was deep in both races at times, but salvaged a fourth in the second race to stay in contention, just three points adrift.

A third and a fitth dropped Marie-Françoise XIX, SUI 218, (Jürg Menzi, Jurgen Eiermann, Bo Selko) to third, while Black & White, SUI 219, (Daniel Schenker, Mark Dangel, Anthony Shanks) sailed an exceptional day, leading both races at times and ending up with two second places, but remains in fourth overall and within striking distance of the podium.

The top of the fleet is completed by Artemis XIV, NOR 57, (Kristian Nergaard, Kristoffer Spone, Trond Solli-Saether), who sailed a third and a fourth today. These five boats are almost out of touch of the rest of the fleet with an 18 points buffer to sixth.

Just two races remain to be sailed on Friday.

The day began with a storm front passing through and a short postponement before Race 6 was started. Black & White was fastest to the top mark, but on the downwind was caught by New Moon as they rounded opposite gate marks.New Moon got the best of the next upwind and just led round the top and as the wind started to fade away, extended hugely on the final downwind for a comfortable win from Black & White and Marie-Françoise XIX. On the final downwind the wind filled in from the right and sent most of the fleet across the line in one large group.

Then there was a long wait for the second race as the wind started shifting around causing the race committee to move position three times. At the start the breeze was 10-12 knots but it soon increased and at the first mark was 15 knots, and then rose to 18-22 knots on the second upwind and final downwind which caused quite a few broaches and hairy manoeuvres.

Black & White was again first to the top mark, but Marie-Françoise XIXsneaked inside. With the top make near the main channel the current was even stronger and caught some out who hit the mark. It was very close at the downwind gate, but the next two legs proved crucial with the wind increasing further.

It was turning into a three horse race with Black & White leading New Moonand Artemis XIV into a very tight second top mark, but the downwind was decisive with numerous broaches and many boats having problems. With skipper Kristian Nergaard saying he had not broached for 20 years, Artemis XIV again broached on the run, their third during these events, and lost ground.Black & White also had a few problems, while New Moon dropped their kite early to be safe. New Moon and Black & White rounded the gate together for the final upwind. It was a very tough leg with waves, lots of shifts and strong wind, but New Moon just held on to take their second bullet of the day fromBlack & White and Artemis XIV.

John B was leading going onto the day and after a poor first race was also deep in the second, but good boat handling in the stiff breeze kept them upright on the downwinds and they steered through the carnage around them to cross in fourth and keep their hopes of retaining their title alive.

There was a noticeable lack of energy as the sailors gathered for the evening dock party with tired arms and heavy legs and the forecast that Friday could be even windier.

Full results here.