K-CHALLENGE CHASE CHAMPIONSHIP AS BLACK STAR BATTLE BACK
The two top boats edged further away from the eight other flying catamaran teams on the penultimate day of the GC32 World Championship, being held in Lagos, on Portugal’s Algarve coast.
Another uncharacteristically light day saw the easterly wind peak at just over 10 knots for the first race allowing one reaching start to take place before the course was reconfigured for upwind starts, allowing two more to be held. On the last leg of today’s third race the wind dropped to just 3 knots and while this race finished successfully, that was it for the day.
Given the vagueness of the conditions, it was impressive that the two top boats still maintained their consistency– K-Challenge Team France remain the overall leader going into the final day, but Christian Zuerrer’s Black Star Sailing Team was the top scoring boat today, posting a most impressive 1-3-1 and reducing the French team’s lead from 10 points to 6.
The first reaching start race saw the welcome sight of owner-driver Simon Delzoppo’s .film AUS Racing lead into the reaching mark and the leeward gate, only to be overhauled by Black Star coming into the top mark. Team Rockwool Racing pulled up to third at the second leeward gate rounding. Then an altercation with Alinghi Red Bull Sailing coming into the final mark dropped the Australians to fourth. They subsequently also finished fourth in today’s second race.
A greater owner-driver battle took place in today’s final race when Jason Carroll’s Argo set off down the final run with a giant lead with Erik Maris’ Zoulou holding second on the left side of the course.
Unfortunately for the US team not only did the wind drop to 3-4 knots meaning that both their usually nimble GC32’s hulls were firmly stuck to the water, but they encountered some other problems: “We were miles in front, but we ran into a weed patch before we gybed and we could never get going on starboard,” explained Argo’s tactician Laser Olympic gold medallist turned America’s Cup sailor, Paul Goodison.
Argo reached across to try and cover Zoulou but both boats suffered in the middle allowing K-Challenge Team France to slip through on the left only in turn to be pipped at the post by Black Star Sailing Team coming in from the right. “In the end we were drifting along in 3 knots,” continued Goodison. “It was frustrating not to capitalise on that big lead – but we couldn’t fly high enough to get the weed off.
Alinghi Red Bull Racing had a better day posting a 3-3-5 and holds third overall, 14 points ahead of Zoulou.