Saturday 10 December 2011 | Published in Regional
Day four of the laser radial regatta at the World Sailing Championships in Perths brought a mixed bag of weather conditions testing the skills of sole female sailor Helema Williams.
Williams is part of a three member Team Cook Islands sailing squad including Taua Elisa and Junior Charlie at the championships.
The team reports on the action from day four of racing.
The day started with around nine knot winds and choppy seas, building to a steady 18 knot wind with gusts from the southwest and two metre waves.
At one stage the wind dropped away and seas flattened and then after 10 to 15 minutes returned very fast to the previous conditions.
Yesterday the fleet was divided into Gold and Silver with Helema Williams in the Silver Fleet second flight off the start line.
In race one she got away to a very fast start and rounded the top mark in 24th place. She sailed the downwind legs with better timing in this race.
This leg is difficult to sail fast with the following waves and gusts from different directions.
Sailors need to be aware of the overall changes in direction as the wind clocks around, the gusts coming from the west-southwest and sail aggressively in the sense of taking it on fully this is no time for the faint-hearted and a great sailing challenge.
Helema finished in 29th place. Race two was another good, fast start.
Winds picked up to 18 knots with gusts and the fleet really spread out but got caught eventually on the wrong side in the wind shift to drop some places.
Downwind was a bigger challenge now and Helema continued her improvements on this leg. She eventually finished in 32nd place.
The wind changes were merciless sailors ranked in the high numbers didnt make it through to Gold fleet and were still sporadic in success in the Silver fleet.
Helemas sailing downwind in these conditions has really improved as she becomes familiar with the conditions.
Race three saw another good start from Helema.
The sailors places were changing now as the women became more fatigued.
Helema sailed well and was holding good position only to lightly touch the mark and a consequent 360 dropped her back.
Fortunately this was the reach leg where her skills are very good and she was able to catch up all but one boat. Helema finished in 33rd position.
With a rest day today she will be taking it easy starting with a sleep in she was up at 9am and preparing herself for the last two yesterday.
World number two Evi van Acker of Belgium continues to lead the laser radial competition by 14 points overall despite finishing a race outside the top four for the first time.
World number one Marit Bouwmeester of the Netherlands and world number five Paige Railey of America are her closest competition after day six of racing in the ISAF Worlds off Fremantle.
Junior Charlie and Taua Elisa are preparing themselves for the mens Laser competition which starts early next week.
Boat stickers, sail stickers, registration and boat measurement all need to be completed before then, plus the final training session on water a light one today.