Friday, September 14, 2012

French Hit The Front at F18 Worlds in Long Beach - Day Three

French sailors Olivier Backes and Matthieu Vandame from Marseille have grabbed the lead from Switzerland's Billy Besson and Jeremie Laguarrigue at the Globaltech Formula 18 World Championship with a relatively modest scoreline (1-3-(6)-6-3-2-1-3-4).
Photo: Rich Roberts
Backes, who won the F18 Worlds in his home waters in 2010, said, "Our goal is to be consistent. Winning races is not our goal.We like medium wind even though it was a little stronger than that today."
Photo: Rich Roberts
Still, they are one of only two entries among 118 from 16 countries in the event hosted by Alamitos Bay Yacht Club to win two races, along with Besson and Laguarrigue, who dropped four points off the pace after finishing 24th in the day's last race, a result they tossed to count a seventh place Wednesday.
The second throwout kicks in with the 11th race on Friday.
Photo: Rich Roberts
Thursday's noon start was delayed while competitors searched for the course in a thick layer of fog off Seal Beach. When racing did get underway it was in the choppy seas with up to five feet of swell in southwest winds that peaked at 15 knots that saw plenty of capsizes
Photo: Rich Roberts
It was a day that tested the best monohull sailors in the world. After two days of six qualifying races, the fleet was split evenly into the Gold and Silver fleets based on their results over the first two days. They now have separate starts for the final nine races that conclude on Saturday.

The French made their move in the first race around the 1.5-mile long trapezoid course and held of a challenge from the Swiss, who finished about 30 metres behind.
Photo: Rich Roberts
Mischa Heemskerk and crew Bastiaan Tentij of The Netherlands finished the day in third place, while defending champion Australia's Darren Bundock and crew Jeroen van Leeuwen are sitting in fourth after finishing the day with 5, 5, 9.

"The French had a great day. It seemed a lot bumpier out there today," Bundock said. "It's always better when you're in the Gold fleet because you know who you're racing against."
Photo: Rich Roberts
Backes, who placed fourth in the Tornado class at the 2008 Beijing Olympics behind Bundock who won the silver medal,  is not a regular on the F18 circuit due to his work commitments.

"I sail maybe 30 days a year," Backes said. 

Rich Roberts

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