Perth 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships – Star classes were back on the water today, Friday 16 December, racing on the Leighton Course in Fremantle, Australia.
A great day on the water for Canada today!!! The Fremantle Doctor was back and Canada was firing on all cylinders.
Richard Clarke and Tyler Bjorn have qualified Canada and themselves for the 2012 Olympic Games next summer.
The Canadian duo finished 10th in the fleet racing after 10 races. There are actually tied with the ninth place German team of Polgar and Koy who also have 99 points. Ties are broken based on who finished ahead in the last race.
This result puts them in the ninth Country position. Spots for the top 11 Countries (excluding GBR) were available here. This result also puts them in the medal race tomorrow with a mathematical chance to move into seventh spot in the final standings but they will have to be first or second in the race and have the others ahead of then do poorly. Eighth place is well within reach as the eighth place French boat is only one point ahead going in to tomorrow.
The boys were not all together pleased with their performance feeling that they should have done better. As Richard put it: 'finishing 10th in the fleet racing was just a little too close for comfort. We have to finish in the top 10 here under the Canadian trials system to auto qualify and we just got in under the wire.' Tyler said: 'we will have to reassess after the regatta to see where we can improve but our focus is still on improving our position in tomorrow's medal race.'
Clarke indicated that they felt a little slow at times but was not certain that he could draw any specific conclusions yet. The pair will soon have a new boat which is on its way to Europe for the spring events there and some training at the Olympic Regatta site.
One bit of very encouraging news is that Clarke/Bjorn's primary training partners will be the Brazilian team of Robert Scheidt and Bruno Prada. The Brazilian pair dominated the fleet in the fleet racing and currently sits in first place going into the medal race with an 18 point lead. They will have to finish last and the second place American team finish first to lose the Championship.
This will be Clarke's fifth trip to the Big Show and Tyler's first, but not the first for Tyler's family. Both his father and his brother are Olympians in the sport of Sailing. Brother Kai sailed with Bruce MacDonald in 2000 in Sydney and father Peter sailed with Ian Bruce in the Games in Munich in1972. The Olympics is a family affair for the Bjorn's. Tyler was greeted by his wife Tara Seiv and children Shayne and Holly at the dock after the racing. I am sure Richard's wife Andria Scanlan and daughter Zoe will waiting by the phone back home on Salt Spring Island, BC. Richard's father was also a Sailing Olympian in the Finn Class in 1972.
The Canadian 49'ers had a much better day today. Cook/Lowden sailed consistently and finally got to put their excellent speed to work with finishes of 14, 1 and 4. Lada/Inkpen has a 13, 18 and 3.
Based on what he saw today, coach Jason Rhodes feels that Cook/Lowden have 'an excellent chance at qualifying for the medal race at the Olympics – they just need to put together a solid series. They have the speed and boat handling to be in there.' Obviously they need to do some work on their sailing in the highly variable conditions we saw here (patchy and shifty) but they are smart guys and I believe that they will take away lots of learning from this event and pull it all together for London next summer. There is lots of time to adjust their strategic models. The speed and boat handling is already in place.