Sunday, January 04, 2009

A-Cat Worlds Day 1: Blown Out

[Source: A-Cat Worlds Media Center] The north easterly sea breeze came in early on Day One at Lake Macquarie. By 10am there were pressure patterns the length of the lake; Lake Macquarie is a big open space four times the size of Sydney Harbour.

There were some exciting pre-start rides from the fleet, which was out there enjoying the time.

49er World Champion Nathan Outteridge was running the start line with enthusiasm, whereas the old fox Glenn Ashby was sitting back conserving energy with his boat hove to in the breeze.

Unfortunately 22 knots is the top racing limit for the A-Cats and with winds speeds gusting to 25 knots out on Lake Macquarie, Principal Race Officer Peter Moor brought the fleet ashore half an hour after the scheduled 1300 start time.

At that stage it was a classic brochure nor'easter such as you get on Lake Macquarie, but just a tad too heavy for the lightly rigged A-Cats.

Once ashore the wind began to increase and by 3pm it had swung to north and was building into the high 20's.
Five times world champion Glenn Ashby commented,'Safety is always an issue with the fleet.

A-Cat Champion Glenn Ashby wins the race back to the dock. Belmont, Australia, 4 January 2009. Photo copyright /AUS

'The more experienced guys could handle it no problems, but survival on the first day might have been a bit tricky. I think there were a lot of guys keen to sail, including myself, but at the end of the day I'm happy that most of the fleet has come back in one piece,' he said.

James Spithill commented, 'it probably would have been one of the best sea breezes of the year. If there's a class limit there's a class limit.

But we all had a good little blast on the way in at least - a race to the dock,' he said.

According to Tom Slingsby, 'It would have been good to have a race to the top mark. But going down wind would have been an adventure.'

Principal Race Officer Peter Moor said: 'It's just too windy. The boats are pretty highly geared up. If it was the last race of the series you might think more positively about running the race, but as the first race in the series we don't want to have broken boats on the beach.

We're going to come back tomorrow at 9.30. There are some boats out there today loving it like sailboards and kite surfers and 16 foot skiffs.

We'll try and get two first off tomorrow. With a bit of luck we'll have a lunch break and maybe another two races in the afternoon.

The forecast for the week is four days is fresh north east sea breezes every afternoon. I saw a forecast for Wednesday afternoon of 25 to 30 knots as the anticipated wind strength.It's not going to get lighter, so we will be starting early each day,' he said.


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