If the Sail for Gold regatta showed anything this week it showed that Peter O’Leary could sail consistently at the highest level. Any claims in the past that his ability to win in the Star Class was either a fluke or a result of taking a flier that paid off was a myth that has been dispelled for ever this week.
His performance for the week and that of his temporary crew, Frithjof Kleen from Germany, has been superb. All the more so when you consider that practically without exception, the cream of the world’s top Star sailors numbering Olympic Gold Medallists, World Champions and Americas Cup Sailors amongst them were present His performance in the final race was a bit of a disappointment but as we understand this was due to his crew falling overboard while gybing, then they were in fact lucky to finish the race at all. To their credit they did, finishing 16th, and losing only one place on the final overall leaderboard of the ten race series leaving them second overall to Frederik Loof and Johan Tillander of Sweden.
The trapdoor has now closed and tomorrow’s “medal race” of the top ten competitors in the series is expected to take place in the early afternoon. The Star fleet is star-studded, so there were always going to be big-name casualties – they included the second placed team at this year’s World Championship, Flavio Marazzi and Enrico de Maria. Amongst other notables not to make the cut were George Szabo and Mark Strube, Mark Mendelblatt and John von Schwarz, Xavier Rohart and Pierre Alexis Ponsot, along with Andy Horton and James Lynne.
On a personal note, I think the medal race is a dastardly system adopted by the IOC for the Olympic Regattas to try to bolster the TV audiences. In effect it means that a boat which has demonstrated by its score that it should be the winner of the 10 race series now has to take pot luck as each boat has its score returned to scratch. Any little bit of bad luck such as an unfavourable windshift, broken gear or whatever reason, can deprive the boats that have proven themselves the best overall after ten races, of the well merited medals. The idea of a series is to find the best and it should be left at that when the best has been found.
In any event, I am sure I speak for the club members in wishing Peter and Frithjof the very best of luck for tomorrow. They have already done themselves proud and we are all very proud of them.
August 12th Update from Skandia Sail For Gold 2010.
Once again Peter O’Leary and Frithjof Kleen produced an excellent result in Races 7 and 8 to-day. In Race 7 they finished fifth and in Race 8 they had a fourth. With 28 points this leaves them 10 points ahead of their nearest rival Frederick Loof of Sweden. Tomorrow is going to be another very exciting day.
August 11th Report
News is very scarce so far tonight from the Star Class at Skandia Sail for Gold today. However, your scribe can tell you that the oustanding provisional result after six races is that Peter O’Leary and Frithjof Kleen are topping the leaderboard with 19 points.
We also know it took almost an hour to get the five miles to the race area owing to the current. Waiting between the fifth and sixth races for the course to be reset took up a lot of the afternoon and there were a few general recalls due to the upwind current. All three races of the day were sailed in excellent conditions with a steady 10 to 15 knots of westerly breeze.
Peter, keep your usual cool head and the best of luck for the rest of the regatta. We are all rooting for you and Frithjof. However, we know it’s the Star Class and the best sailors in the world are competing with you so there is some way to go yet.