RACING stepped up a gear on the third day of the Sail for Gold Regatta yesterday, with sailors revelling in big breeze, strong gusts and spells of sunshine at this third leg of the EUROSAF Champions Sailing Cup series.
Wind speeds of 15-20 knots which built to 25 knots across Weymouth Bay and Portland Harbour made for exciting racing for the eight Olympic and two Paralympic classes.
Portland’s Luke Patience and Elliot Willis consolidated their top spot in the combined 470 fleet with a clean sweep of race wins from the three of four races they completed.
Sophie Weguelin and Eilidh McIntyre, who celebrated her 20th birthday yesterday, suffered a snapped spinnaker halyard in the opening race of the day.
WEYMOUTH’S world champion Nick Dempsey relished the strong winds Portland Harbour had to offer in yesterday’s morning session, with a commanding three race wins to keep him at the top of the leaderboard.
He said: “It was a really nice day and pretty windy so I am really pleased with my performance.
“I seem to be going quite quick and everything seems quite simple when you’re going fast.
“We had a different direction of wind which made it a little tricky but it was good fun.
“The whole week has been good, the first day we had some really light winds which just makes the racing hard and physically difficult so the racing was a lot closer and much more of a challenge for myself and the rest of the fleet.
“But with the wind picking up it has made it a lot more enjoyable – I prefer days like yesterday as they are more fun but I would like to think of one of my strengths as being good in a mix of conditions.
“Everyone wants to do well and we all want to challenge ourselves and we want to race as hard as we can and get the most out of it.
“It’s tough racing, the GBR guys are getting faster and better which is great for me, great for them and as a squad we are getting better and bet- ter.”
RUNAWAY leader Bryony Shaw added a further three race wins to her impressive scoreline while Spain’s Blanca Manchon posted a third and two seconds to leave her 10 points behind in second.
DAVE Evans and Ed Powys have extended their lead in the 49er event with an impressive two seconds and first.
The British Sailing Team pair have a healthy 12-point cushion over Nic Asher and Fynn Ster-ritt.
POOLE’S Lucy Macgregor and Andrew Walsh made the most of Wednesday’s early afternoon gusts in the mixed multihull event.
Two race wins, a second and a fourth have kept the duo at the top of the leaderboard.
PORTLAND’S Giles Scott has increased his lead at the top of the Finn fleet with another impressive performance.
Three races win and a third, in spite of a capsize yesterday, has seen the Finn European champion extend his lead to nine points over Mark Andrews in second.
THE two Paralympic classes were the only ones to miss out on their full schedule of races yesterday with the 2.4mR and Sonar completing two out of their planned four races each due to the building breeze.
The battle of the Brits continues in the 2.4mR class with Helena Lucas and Portland’s Megan Pascoe almost neck and neck as the regatta reaches the halfway stage.
Pascoe has moved up into second overall, only one point behind the Paralympic champion after a clean sweep of race wins yesterday.
Lucas finished yesterday’s opening race in second, but was unable to compete in the final race of the day with her 2.4mR keelboat among a number to be swamped in the blustery conditions.
John Robertson, Hannah Stod-el and Stephen Thomas continue their superb run of form in the Sonar class, with two more race wins to extend their lead to 12 points at the top of the leaderboard.
Racing is scheduled to start at 10.30am today with a 12-15 knot forecast.