RACING at the Sail for Gold Regatta 2014 got underway yesterday as a south-westerly eight to 12 knots greeted the sailors competing at this third stage of the EUROSAF Champions Sailing Cup in Weymouth and Portland.
Sailors contesting eight Olympic and two Paralympic classes completed the full schedule of shorter 30 minute races, which were split into morning and afternoon sessions across two course areas in Weymouth Bay and Portland Harbour.
Portland-based Finn heavyweight Giles Scott once again demonstrated his pedigree with an almost unblemished scorecard.
Three race wins and a second leave him top of the pile with Mark Andrews clinching the other race win to sit three points off his GBR team-mate.
Andrew Mills, competing in his last competitive regatta for the British Sailing Team after announcing his retirement, sits third.
470 In the compact but talented combined 470 fleet, Luke Pat-ience, also based on the island, and Elliot Willis dominated proceedings with four race wins while British Sailing Team Sophie Weguelin and Eilidh McIntyre sit second ahead of Podium Potential sailors Jess Lavery and Megan Brickwood.
RS:X The windsurfing class were the first to leave the shore and the first to return was world number two Bryony Shaw, who controlled the women’s fleet with a striking three race wins on the opening day of the regatta.
Shaw said: “Sail for Gold is a great venue for sailing, we have got great facilities and the fact that we are competing on home turf and that the legacy from 2012 is still alive and kicking is great – plus it’s just always nice to be back in Weymouth and Portland racing.”
In the RS:X 9.5 event, Wey-mouth’s world champion Nick Dempsey tops the billing with two race wins and a second but faced stiff competition from the current ISAF Youth Worlds champion Kieran Martin, who continually tussled for the top spot with the Olympic silver medallist across yesterday’s three races.
49er Yukio Makino and Kenji Taka-hashi sealed two race wins and a fifth to take an early lead in the 49er class.
The Japanese sailors, who finished 18th at London 2012 and seventh at last year’s Sail for Gold Regatta, hold a three-point cushion over the British Sailing Team’s Nic Asher and Fynn Sterritt who end their day in second.
With 15 boats on the start line, including entries from Brazil, Belgium, Switzerland and current leaders Japan, Asher is expecting a good battle across the remaining four days of competition.
49erFX Annemiek Bekkering and Annette Duetz picked up two race wins and a third to top the 49erFX leaderboard ahead of British pairings Charlotte Dob-son of Weymouth and Sophie Ainsworth and Frances Peters/ Nicola Groves who sit tied on eight points apiece.
Nacra 17 POOLE’S Lucy Macgregor and Andrew Walsh got their regatta off to a promising start posting a second, third and two race wins.
The British pair, who finished 16th at the second leg of this EUROSAF series in Medemblik two weeks ago after suffering a mast breakage, hold a two-point cushion over Pippa Wilson and John Gimson in second.
A false start penalty in the final race of the day put paid to Ben Saxton and Hannah Diamond’s hopes of an early lead after opening their account with two race wins.
Paralympic Classes Helena Lucas has taken the early advantage in the 2.4mR with two bullets and two thirds to give her a slender one-point cushion over Australia’s Matt Bugg.
Portland’s Megan Pascoe also notched two bullets but closed her day with an unfavourable sixth place to leave her third overall.
“It’s a good place to be but there is a long way to go yet,” ex-pressed the Paralympic champion Lucas.
“It’s great to have Matt Bugg here from Australia and Niki Birrell – a five-time SKUD World champion – who was starting to find his feet towards the last race and we have also got some of the able-bodied sailors here as well so it’s quite a competitive fleet and no doubt will be a fantastic week of racing.”
n Racing is scheduled to start at 10.30am today with an average eight to 12 knot forecast in store.
The Sail for Gold Regatta, organised by the RYA and the Weymouth and Portland Nat-ional Sailing Academy, is part of the four-stage 2014 EUROSAF Champions Sailing Cup series.