Like clockwork though, the wind filled in to the minimum threshold of 14 knots by 2:00 and the first fleet took to the course. It was light, flooding and not what the competitors were used to from the day before but the start was clean and the race progressed at the pace of a chess match with tactical sailing to match. The lighter winds immediately saw Local Dinghy racer John Heineken favored as he just seemed to know exactly how to cover the course. In a slow but very entertaining race, Heineken held off Farley for first place, Jensen took second and Farley third, Dirk Hanel breaking into the top 5 for his first time and then rounded out by Sky Solbach.
The second race had quite a bit more wind and saw Chip Wasson and Bruno Sroka paired up for the first time this week. The fleet had noticed that the inside may have been the place to be due to the heavy flood on the outside and the fleet split the start on starboard and port. Chip, Bruno, Gebhardt, Rista, and J. Richman beat the starboard half of the fleet and were off and locked in towards the windward mark. They stayed in that order the whole race with with the exception of Chip and Bruno who traded places so that Chip could remain consistent with his second place finishes.
Two inbound tankers delayed the races by about 45 minutes and used up a good chunk of solid mid twenties wind.
The third race had Farley coming out of the gates like a man possessed as he did not like being handed his first defeat in the first heat of the day. While Heineken was able to stay on his heals, he could never catch Farley and they finished Farley, Heineken, Solbach, Hanel, Jensen.
The race committee observed the wind coming down a bit towards the end of the third race so they called the blue fleet out when the last competitor from yellow had cleared the leeward mark so that they could start the next race as soon as possible. This last race had the pack starting on starboard and coming way inside off the start. By the time the field tacked out to the middle they were really spread out creating quite the site for the spectators. While some were out ahead, others were higher up. It made it anyones guess who would make it to the windward mark first. When they came around the mark, it was Chip Wasson in first for the first time this week, followed by Bruno. They stayed this way even though Bruno made a couple attempts to catch him Chip was able to protect the course well and hold strong for a first place finish. He was followed by Bruno, then Paolo, then Damien Leroy, then Gebhardt.
The men finished the preliminaries with:
1. Sean Farley (6)
2. Bruno Sroka (8)
3. Chip Wasson (11)
4. John Heineken (13)
5. Sky Solbach (17)
6. Paolo Rista (21)
7. Damien Leroy (22)
8. Jesse Richman (24)
9. Bjoern Rune Jensen (29)
10. Michael Gebhardt (30)
The women have been racing with the men all along and they will be grouped in the Gold fleet so they can continue to all score against each other. Standout Steph Bridge from GBR has been hanging tough beating some of the top men from years past and she currently sits 17 over all. Kristin Boese is the next woman in 28th, followed by Melissa Gill and Sandy Parker who are separated by just a couple points and rounding out the top 5 is Katja Roose from NLD.
Tomorrow the fleets will be split into Gold and Silver and the competition will get that much tougher.