Canada’s team of helmsman Luke Ramsay and crewman Mike Leigh sailed into 10th spot in the 470 yacht class to sit 25th over all in the world sailing championships off Fremantle, Australia on Thursday.
It was the most solid Canadian performance of the day as the championships reached their midway point. Three quarter of the berths in next summer’s London Olympics are available. In the 470 class, 19 countries will qualify for a London start,
“This duo have suffered through the transition from Laser to the 470 class,” said coach Ken Dool. “Suffer may be harsh... but consider the weight each athlete was forced to lose (and health concerns) and their story is compelling. Two quality sailors made a big jump in terms of classes, persevering through some tough times and now they’re starting to show the form many had thought possible,” Dool said in an e-mail message.
The Canadians, a new team created after Leigh’s bad back made Laser sailing too difficult, are the 19th-placed county in the championship fleet. A 23rd place finish from race 5 is keeping them back. Although they are close to the six boats ahead of them, there are sailors from four countries close behind looking for an Olympic berth..
Other Canadian scores on the day were not as impressive. In the Finn class, Chris Cook rounded the top mark in seventh spot, then moved up to fifth, only to have a slow and frustrating finish, an 18th. He sits 17th in the racing series, just past the mid-point of the event. The class is dominated by the Brits, who have four boats in the top nine through six races. Also in the Finn class, Brendan Wilton recovered after a disastrous opening series which saw him relegated to the silver – or consolation – fleet which is not in the running for title. He won the silver fleet race in a walk, with fellow Canadian Marty Robitaille placing third.
The Canadian women’s Radial fleet, had Olympic trials jitters. The gold fleet top contingent all dropped their bad results for the day. The battle continues Saturday.. Isabella Bertold leads the Canadian squad, sitting 34th, with Claire Merry 39th and Danielle Dube 40th. Only 29 country positions are available for the London Games.
In the RSX women's race course they had a full range of testing conditions with winds ranging from as little as 5-8 knots to upwards of 17 knots by the day’s end. In three races in that class, Nikola Girke placed 23rd, 15th and 18th in the championship fleet of 34 boards. She now sits in 22nd overall which is the 14th country ranking.. Twenty spots in the Olympic fleet are available. Dominique Vallee faired somewhat better in the silver Fleet, with a 12,th, sixth and 13th. However, because she is in the consolation fleet, no matter how well she sails, her placing cannot be registered any higher than 34th over all.
Canada's two women's match racing teams unfortunately were eliminated from competition, finishing 13th and 15th respectively in Group A, where only the top 10 move on to the next round.
Racing continues Friday for the Finn and 470 classes, while the Radial and RSX women get the day off before resuming Saturday.