Consistent opening day for Australians at ILCA 6 World Championships
Main photo: Mara Stransky
The Australian Sailing ILCA6 squad had a solid qualifying day in Kemah, Texas on day one of the ILCA 6 World Championships held out of Texas Corinthian Yacht Club.
The 85 sailors completed two races on Galveston Bay in moderate winds and choppy seas. The bay in Kemah is just 3 meters deep, so it is susceptible to a fast building chop, especially with the additional support vessels near the course.
Tokyo Olympian Mara Stransky is currently the top-ranked Australian in 14th overall after an eighth and a 10th place in today’s racing.
“Today we had a 10 to 14 knot east-south-easterly gradient wind, so a bit more wind than our training days so far,” Stransky shared. “The wind and all the extra boats whipped up some nasty chop too, so there was a bit more on in general.”
The Australian squad has had an intense calendar of racing and training throughout 2022 and is pleased to finally take on their peak event of the year.
The 23-year-old Olympian elaborated, “As always, it’s nice to just get into the regatta and put some numbers on the board to settle the nerves. My day wasn’t incredible, but I’m happy it was consistent in the end, as my first laps were certainly not.”
Following closely behind Stransky in 15th place is Victorian Casey Imeneo. Imeneo was pleased with the efficiency of the race committee as commonly with the large fleets and first-day nerves, plenty of general recalls often slow down the day.
When looking at the critical elements to string together a consistent day, Imeneo observed, “It was a pressure-driven day and staying in phase with the shifts was key. Tacks were costly in the chop, so there wasn’t much margin for error. Additionally, the runs created some good opportunities to make some gains on the downwinds.”
Fellow squad members Zoe Thomson and Elyse Ainsworth sit in 21st and 27th respectively, after a mixed bag of results for them on one day of racing in Texas.
National co-coach Ben Walkemeyer acknowledged that it was a solid day for the squad for day one of a World Championships. “The aim on day one is not to have any majors and get some keeper scores on the board. So that was the main aim for us, and that’s what the squad did,” said Walkemeyer.
“Consistency will continue to be the key play this week with shifty conditions experienced in the bay. Some people had bullets today by banging a corner, but that isn’t going to work all week.”
Getting off a start line in good shape with 44 other boats is always a challenge. However, Walkemeyer is pleased with how the squad has taken it on.
“Their acceleration has been good, and they did a solid job of using the space they had,” Walkemeyer continued. “This will also be key to this week as having the ability to tack where you want is quite critical, so if they can continue to start well it gives them a leg up on the chess board.”
Similar conditions are expected tomorrow ahead of a frontal system heading towards Kemah, Texas. Two more races in qualifying fleets are scheduled at 12:00 local time.
Australian Sailing Team (AST), Australian Sailing Squad (ASS), Australian Sailing Futures and other Australian (AUS) entries:
ILCA6 (85 Boats)
- 14th – Mara Stransky (AST) – 8,10 (18pts)
- 15th – Casey Imeneo (ASS) – 11, 8 (19pts)
- 21st – Zoe Thomson (ASS) – 12, 11 (23pts)
- 27th – Elyse Ainsworth (ASS) – 16, 12 (29pts)
- 33rd – Evie Saunders (ASF) – 9, 25 (34pts)
- 50th – Sylvie Stannage (AUS) – 29, 21 (50pts)
Words by Lisa Darmanin
Photos by Helen Galli