Jim Hunt (GBR) has maintained his lead after a very tricky day at the OK Dinghy World Championships in Quiberon, France, with the shifty, offshore winds mixing up the fleet on more than one occasion and leaving Hunt and Jørgen Svendsen (DEN) with a clear lead over the rest of the 105 boat fleet. Charlie Cumbley (GBR) drops one to third overall, with just four races left to sail.
It was a costly day for some with black flags, big shifts and big scores. The course was directly downwind of the sailing base, with 8-15 knots breeze varying up to 40 degrees during the day.
Richard Burton (GBR) was the first casualty of the day leading round the top mark in race 5, only to be pulled out after a black flag start. That left Svendsen and Hunt fighting it out for the race win. Hunt nearly caught the fast Dane on the final upwind, but Svendsen took his second race win of the week, with Hunt second and Greg Wilcox (NZL) third, after making big gains in the closing stages.
The race was won and lost on the start line with those able to tack across immediately making a 100-metre jump on the fleet. The wind swung backwards and forwards and a light rain shower on the final beat added to the complications. The wind stabilised, and slightly increased, for race 6, but with some big shifts still coming off the nearby shore.
Defending Champion Andre Budzien (GER) owned race 6, leading from start to finish for a comfortable victory. After landing a second letter score on Tuesday, his chances of defending his title have all but vanished, but he continued to compete. He started near the pin and went furthest left to hook the shore shift up to the top mark. He was never threatened though the battle for second and third was hot until the very end. A yellow flag on the first beat for Cumbley cost him dearly, as did a gybe mark collision for Bo Petersen (DEN). Hunt, meanwhile, picked up his second second-place of the day while Mats Caap (SWE) snuck into third, to end a great day for him.
With Caap now up to fourth and Wilcox in sixth, the two veteran sailors are continuing a battle that started more than 30 years ago. Both are former World Champions and while Wilcox never gave up sailing the OK Dinghy, Caap had a nearly 20 year break after 1996. He won the world title in 1987.
After racing today they talked about this week and past times.
On the day:
Caap: “It was a lovely day, shifty, not too much wind. That’s what we like. Lets the old guys go. It’s lovely when it goes OK. It feels good. Everything is totally rewarding. It’s good fun finding the shifts again that I haven’t seen for 20 years, but more than one at a time every beat is not enough.”
Wilcox: “So you have forgotten more than you remember?”
Caap: “I thought I had. I have been totally misjudging 50 per cent of the shifts.
Wilcox: “Well you’re still doing a pretty gob job at it.”
On the second race:
Caap: “We both had a bad start but we really worked our way up there at the end.”
Wilcox: I kind of did a wriggle at the top which got me from potentially 25 up to 10 at the top mark.”
Caap: “And on the last beat in the first race you had a total gain on the port side, right before the finish.”
Wilcox: “Yes, I opened up a gap and third was mine.”
On the changes since the 1980s:
Caap: “Everyone has better equipment these days. The top guys always had good equipment, but now you see it right through the fleet. “
Wilcox: “The speed difference through the fleet is a lot less than it was.”
Caap: “There are 50 boats that have pretty much the same speed, I’d say. You never really knoiw whether you could start close to them or not.”
Wilcox: “You can start close to anyone and they can hold you. I get gassed out on the start by boat that ends up in the 50s.”
Caap: “I feel I have really good speed when I get up there, but in the start you keep getting out speeded by someone you have never seen before.”
Wilcox: “Well, there is so much bad air circulating off the start line. When it’s really tight, it’s really hard to get a clean lane.”
Racing against each other this week:
Wilcox: “It’s the most fun I have had in a long time. And tomorrow I am going to beat him. We first met in 1980 and we’ve been giving each other a hard time ever since then.”
Caap: “Over 35 years we still end up pretty close to each other. That’s even more remarkable, and it’s good fun.”
Wilcox: “Exactly. This is what you sail for. It’s the reason you do it, for the mates that you meet and have fun with.”
The battle is scheduled to continue at 13.00 on Thursday with two races scheduled and two more on Friday.
Results after 6 races
1 GBR 11 Jim HUNT 10
2 DEN 3 Jørgen SVENDSEN 12
3 GBR 1 Charlie CUMBLEY 23
4 SWE 2797 Mats CAAP 31
5 DEN 21 Bo PETERSEN 33
6 NZL 544 Greg WILCOX 33
7 DEN 6 Stefan MYRALF 38
8 SWE 100 Thomas HANSSON-MILD 47
9 POL 14 Pawel PAWLACZYK 49
10 GER 803 Martin von ZIMMERMANN 51