Tom Fremont-Smith in touching distance of IOD Worlds glory
Tom Fremont-Smith made further inroads in his bid for glory on the penultimate day of the International One Design World Championship in the Great Sound yesterday.
The North East Harbour I helmsman chalked up back-to-back wins to soar to the top of the leaderboard with two races remaining in the ten-race series.
“It was an awesome day,” Fremont-Smith told The Royal Gazette. “It was some awesome racing and we still got two more.”
The American has a two-point advantage over defending champions John Burnham and Peter Rugg, of the Fisher’s Island fleet, heading into the final day of the championship today. Bermuda’s Patrick Cooper is another five points off the lead pace in third.
Very little separated the leaders at the front of the pack, with both of yesterday’s races, contested in shifty 12 to 15-knot breezes, ultimately being decided on the last leg.
Burnham appeared to be in control in the first race before Fremont-Smith came from fourth to snatch victory and complete a remarkable comeback.
After dragging himself back in contention, Fremont-Smith caught a big right wind shift, which enabled him to lay the finish line on starboard. Burnham and Cooper both missed and were forced to take extra tacks to get there.
“We ducked Cooper and he forced Burnham to tack and that was it,” Fremont-Smith added. “We kept going and got a righty and were able to pass both of them.
“Luckily we just got this beautiful little righty that brought us up to the pin on starboard and just maintained our line.”
Cooper managed to stick his bow across the line to pip Burnham for second.
“We were on starboard, then on port and then tacked and finished underneath Burnham,” Cooper said.
The second race was equally as exciting as the boats at the front of the fleet swapped the lead around the course as the wind shifted more to the right.
Cooper appeared to be firmly on course for a second win of the regatta heading up the final beat to the finish, with Fremont-Smith trailing behind.
However, his fortunes took a turn for the worst after tacking too close to his rival and was forced to do a penalty turn, which ultimately cost him the race.
“We thought we had a cross on Tom and unfortunately we got a knock and he got a lift and it happened when the boats were very close and we fouled him,” Cooper said.
“We tacked too close to him and it was unfortunate because had we just under-tacked him we still would’ve had a couple of plays left. But we fouled him and had to do a circle.”
Fremont-Smith went on to record his second win of the day and third straight of the series. Urban Ristorp, of Sweden I, crossed in second and Cooper in third.
Burnham, who had topped the standings since Sunday’s first day of racing, says he and his team-mates must find an “extra gear“ if they are to retain their title.
“We sailed well but we didn’t sail quite as well as the other guys up in the front,” he said. “Tom Fremont-Smith snuck through and got a couple of firsts.
“He sailed some beautiful, tactical beats. He waited for his opportunities and then when a little shift came in, he pounced.
“Any regatta where you go in the last day in contention to win you know you’re sailing well. We haven’t finished worse than fourth place in any race, but we’ve got to find a little extra gear.
“I don’t know whether it’s boat speed or tactics, but they [Fremont-Smith] are just sailing beautifully and it’s their regatta to win right now.”