Friday saw another gorgeous day with clear blue skies and winds building out of the West Southwest. The Fleet had been split into two; gold and silver. Normally the fleet would be split down the middle with the top half going to gold and the bottom half going to silver. But what's an event without a little bit of drama and controversy? The six women in the competition wanted a chance to battle it out against each other. 2 of them (Steph Bridge and Kristin Boese) had earned their way into the Gold fleet finishing overall 17th and 24th respectively. When asked how to score the women, the bubbly yet Burly Brit, Bridge responded, "Score us with the blokes and let us improve. It's not fair to the men or the women to put the ones who didn't earn it into the Gold Fleet." When asked what it would take to get more women competing in the races Bridge responded, "More money I guess but I really don't care. I race against the men."
In all fairness, these women came from all over the world and until there are more participants it only seems fair to include them all in the Championship round to produce a result for the women's top 5.
If anyone thought the first 3 days of racing was exciting, Friday was intense! Every race had tight starts with packs flying around the course with the top 15 guys all in it till the very end. The winds had built to a pretty steady 20 mph and the first race of the day saw Damien Leroy jump out to an early lead but come the last lap at the windward mark he just had to pinch too hard to make it and got passed by Farley. They finished with Farley in first then Leroy followed by Chip Wasson and Bjoern Jensen. A number of folks protested as the racing was tight and there were definitely some fouls with everyone pushing the envelope for the championship round. Redress was awarded to Johhny Heineken (5) Dirk Hanel (6) and Bruno Sroka (5).
Immediately following the first race, Race director John Craig got the gold fleet going again - this time on a slightly different course. At this point in the competition it's really becoming apparent how on top of their game Sean Farley and Chip Wasson are as they get the better of the field on pretty much every start and open up sizable leads. Every once in a while someone will jump into the top spot but for the most part it's Chip and Sean 1 and 2. Really stepping up his game in the Championship round is Dirk Hanel with a 3rd place in the second race, then Sroka, then Jensen.
With 2 races under their belt, the Gold fleet headed in for a quick rest to let the Silver fleet take the field. The Silver Fleet has just as exciting competition within it just at a bit slower of a pace. A mix of local Thursday night series guys at the top of the fleet and some visiting amateurs excited to be competing on such a world class course these guys were battling it out in every heat. At the end of 2 races, locals Eric Geleynse (112), Chris Brown (120) and Bruce Johnson (122) are battling it out for the top 3 spots. Battling to round out the top 5 are Mike Scott (125), Mark Leng (125) and Alex Aguera (137).
After a 45 minute delay due to a high security cargo ship being escorted into the bay, the Gold fleet headed out for the last 2 races of the day. The 3rd race for the Gold Fleet proved to be one of the most exciting of the week as the start line had ebbed out on the pin end and heavily favored port. Those who noticed got off to a huge lead (Heineken, Wasson and S. Richman). Those who didn't were left chasing back up the course. Farley was stuck behind at least 8 or 9 riders but was like a man possessed working his way back up through the pack. Wasson looked the whole time like he has going to hold on for 1st place but was caught by Johnny Heineken who had the finish line laid a bit better. Heineken took 1st, then Wasson, the Shawn Richman, then Farley, Then Hanel again with an impressive improvement.
The last race of the day had another heated start. The starting line had been improved a bit but still favored a good start on Port. Again we had half the fleet challenging the startboard starters on port. Not 15 seconds after the gun the site of Srokas kite looping around that of Alex Smith's alarmed the spectators as it was obvious he would not recover with his 45m lines. Alex was able to recover and finish the race in 27th but later on was given redress in his protest leaving Bruno with a DSQ. Notably in this race, ex-windsurf olympic medalist, Michael Gebhardt got off to a great start and was on Farley's heals the whole race finishing 2nd with Damien Leroy again strogn in 3rd, Wasson in 4th and Jesse Richman in 5th.
An exciting day of racing sets the stage for tomorrows final day where a World Champion will be crowned.
1 Green 8 Sean Farley MEX M O 1 1 1 1 1 3* 1 1 1 4 1 13
2 Yellow 15 Chip Wasson USA M M 2* 2 2 2 2 2 1 3 2 2 4 22
3 White 11 Johnny Heineken USA M O 6* 3 1 3 3 1 2 5 7 1 7 33
4 Blue 18 Damien LeRoy USA M 3 7* 4 4 O 4 3 4 2 14 11 3 52
5 White 19 Jesse Richman USA M J DNF* 3 3 3 5 4 6 6 9 16 5 60
6 Green 15 Dirk Hanel DEU M O 8 6 8 12* 9 4 4 6 3 5 9 62
7 Red 18 Bruno Sroka FRA M O 2 1 5* 1 1 1 2 5 4 6 DSQ 63
8 Green 16 Sky Solbach USA M O 1 2 4 2 8* 5 3 16 15 7 8 63
9 Green 11 Bjoern Rune Jensen DNK M M 5 7 6 11* 4 2 5 4 5 15 18 71
10 Green 10 Geoff Headington USA M O 8 5 5 5 4 8 27* 11 6 8 14 74
11 Red 0 Paolo Rista ITA M M 3 4 4 4 3 5* 3 9 16 20 12 78
12 Red 7 Shawn Richman USA M O 9 9 10* 5 6 10 6 8 10 3 13 79
13 White 7 Jeff Kafka USA M O 12* 12 7 10 2 6 12 7 11 9 6 82
14 Red 19 Michael Gebhardt USA M M 10 5 2 12* 5 3 5 DNF 8 13 2 93
15 Yellow 17 Stefaans Viljoen ZAF M O 4 8* 8 8 6 6 7 24 12 14 11 100