Local knowledge best in light airs


Sailing: An marathon, eight-hour session at sea for the Subaru Flying 15 World Championship led to a result last night when Ireland's Justin Burke and Alan Greene took the overall lead thanks to an emphatic victory in race three.

The National Yacht Club pair revelled in the near windless conditions and currently count a 10th and a sixth place for a comfortable lead of over 13 points.

Sean Craig and Stephen Boyle from the neighbouring Royal St George YC also had a good result when a fifth place left them third overall, just three points shy of the British duo of Tattersall and Smart. A fourth race today would introduce the single event discard, when an overall view of the series will become clearer.

However, with prospects of fresher conditions for the remaining three days in doubt, many of the competitors appear resigned to what will be a light airs event, and achieving consistency will prove difficult.

For Burke, however, more light weather isn't viewed with the same dread that many of the 77-strong championship fleet hold. "Its too early to call the final result," he told The Irish Times last night. "I really enjoy the light and shifty conditions - I seem to have the patience for it."

Two tacks shortly after gaining clear air at the start brought Burke and Greene into the first mark with the leaders. While the main fleet sailed high on the next leg, the pair opted for the centre of the course and ended up with a 50-yard lead, following advice from Burke's father to treat the series like any regular Dublin Bay race: keep it simple and stay with the (wind) pressure.

But, "What wind pressure?" would have been a typical reaction from the bulk of the crews. Principal race officer Jack Roy had the unenviable task of setting a course in just five knots of wind. Plans for a second race were abandoned after lunch as the fleet drifted patiently in a ripping flood tide that almost out-paced what little breeze there was.

Shortly before six o'clock, the wind settled at five knots from a southerly direction. Less than two hours later, and although the direction remained true, barely one knot brought all but six boats across the finishing line of a course shortened with a lap to go.

For Roy, his decision to sail was widely acknowledged as his best option, preferring a light airs championship rather than a title decided on just two races.

While a few crews have expressed their disappointment that the weather has failed to co-operate, one Australian crew-member's expression seems apt: "The winners are grinners and the losers can do whatever the **** they want."