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Sailors stick it out in Perth

Thursday 15 December 2011 | Published in Regional


National mens sailors Taua Elisa and Junior Charlie are holding their own at the World Sailing Championships in Perth where theyve battled rough seas, irregular winds and tough competition.

Team manager Anne Tierney reports on day two of sailing.

Day 2: The fleet was re-sorted today Junior Charlie sailed in the yellow fleet which got off second in alternate races with red fleet. Unfortunately Taua Elisa was again in the late fleet meaning he caught the usual rough weather at the end of the day.

Under ominous skies and on a day where one race went for 10 minutes before it was re-started because of a significant 20-degree wind shift, Tom Slingsby of Australia was like lightning, streaking away from the fleet.

His comments were telling: I actually sailed well today. The first race was crazy. There was probably 10 knots difference around the course with pressure and at times I looked really good then really bad.

Charlie and Elisa are taking the opportunity to sit in with the Emerging Nations Program sailors for a debrief and will be at a morning briefing with well-known coach Arthur Brett.

Conditions for the day were rough seas and strong irregular winds, switching direction, gusting, with an average of 20 knots.

Race 1: Charlies races were tough for him as a lightweight sailor.

While 20 knots doesnt sound like much - the sea conditions and switching directions of the winds makes the downwind leg in particular very challenging.

Looking at Charlie taking on the fleet during the three outer loops gave the strong impression that he is improving fast in the risky but exhilarating downwind leg.

The tacking leg is more difficult for him as his weight disadvantages him in holding the boat down for speed. Sailing in the second fleet to get off the line meant sailing at the time of the day when the wind is winding up he is giving it all hes got and more!

He has a great can-do attitude. In these conditions he is really challenged, but in good heart and working at improving his technique all the time. He is enjoying pitting himself against the best in these trying conditions - thats sailing at the top level! A very credible 40th and 47th places.

Elisas start in race one was a good fast one at the favoured pin end and he set himself up on the left side of the course well.

The fleet was spread across the course more this time and a little more clear air was possible. His downwind technique is looking better all the time as he familiarises himself with the conditions and apart from a gear problem at the gate on his way to the finish line Elisa had a good sassy race with other sailors from the Emerging Nations Programme giving each other a hard time. Elisa finished in 39th place.

In race two, Elisa sailed in a well established sea breeze at last.

His start was not the best as Elisa was covered by a late line crasher and found it hard to find clear air. He sailed extremely well to clear himself and kept to a very solid sail plan.

His finish was marred only by a snarl in the mainsheet at the last gate to place 43rd.

The local favourite Tom Slingsby fully met the expectations of the local public winning both heats. He is now clearly leading overall 9 points ahead of the Olympic Champion Paul Goodison of Great Britain after four races.

The Laser team send best wishes to the Optimist sailors in New Zealand and look forward to hearing from them.