Irish boats fail to make cut as Brazilian shines

Tue, Aug 7, 2001, 01:00

There was disappointment for the Irish squad followed the Gold fleet split at the Laser World Championships at Crosshaven, Co Cork yesterday evening when no sailor from the host nation made the top 82 of the 164-strong fleet. Brazilian Robert Scheidt powered ahead with two further race wins to establish an impressive overall lead.

D·n Laoghaire's Rory Fitzpatrick of the Royal Irish Yacht Club had started the series with a solid 15th place in last Thursday's single opening race, but has slipped steadily down his flight since then.

A 41st and 59th result yesterday dropped him tantalisingly close to the cut-off at 85th overall but without prospect of promotion, regardless of his results over the coming two days.

Scheidt's command over the fleet is impressive, notwithstanding the fact that two of his main rivals in recent events have retired from Laser sailing.

After yesterday, the four-times class world champion has a 15-point lead over Sweden's Karl Suneson. A second event discard is expected for tomorrow's final day that could offer a possible turnaround, though Scheidt appears unstoppable.

Suneson, meanwhile, must watch his third-placed rival and fellow-countryman Daniel Birgmark who is hitting form and is just six points away. The entire Swedish team has qualified for the Gold fleet and accounts for five sailors out of the top 13 boats at the championship. Three specialist schools in Sweden offer sailing as a primary subject supported by a regular education programme.

Meanwhile at the Star World Championships in Medemblicjk, Holland, Ireland's Mark Mansfield has moved into fourth place overall thanks to a 10th and a 15th in the opening two days of racing.

Class newcomers Max Treacy and Anthony Shanks are faring well - a 44th and a 22nd placed them 15th overall in a fleet of 110 boats which includes the reigning world champion and Olympic medallists.

On the second day of racing at the Mirror World Championships at Howth Yacht Club, easterly winds mixed with a strong flood tide and heavy rain.

Nick Meadow and Sam Trott of Carrickfergus Sailing swapped second place for first with the previous overnight leaders, Peter Bayly and William Atkinson of Lough Derg YC.

Light airs of a reported three to eight knots caused considerable problems. The first weather mark of the opening race of the day saw as many as 30 boats become bunched and entangled in the buoy and other competitors.

An 11-point gap has emerged between the pair heading towards the first discard later today. Victory in the second race yesterday brought the West Australian duo of Torvar Mirsky and Justin Jacob from Fremantle Sailing Club into third overall.

They are racing a glass-fibre Mirror and there is speculation that if their performance is maintained a cost revolution may follow that would see current prices of up to £6,000 for a wooden boat of racing specification fall 50 per cent or more.

Ian McGonigle is flying the home-built flag proudly for Skerries SC at this event thanks to a placing of 11th overall after four races in the series. In spite of the range of boat styles amongst the leading pack in the 136-boat fleet, boatspeed is thought to be evenly matched throughout.

The winning-edge thus far is a mix of consistency and experience found mostly with the older crews.