Muscat: The breeze turned light in Oman but it was the shifts that made the fourth day of the 2013 Laser Standard World Championships the most difficult yet for the sailors except for Robert Scheidt who by the end of the qualifying series had stretched his lead to five points.
After three days where the arrival of a sea breeze coincided with the start of racing, the conditions at Mussanah Beach changed and sailors had to wait for some gentle puffs to gather strength before they were let out on the water where they were then forced to make tricky choices on the course as shifts proved tricky to detect.
Pavlos Kontides and Robert Scheidt enjoyed the light airs as much as heavier breeze and recorded race wins in their fleets while Marco Gallo from Italy and Nicholas Heiner from Nederlands notched up wins in the Blue fleet. Gallo's day was one of extremes having finished 61st in the previous race, a result that was promptly discarded.
"It was a positive day from a confidence point of view because coming back with a win after second from last was a great result. Winning two races in a World Championships is not something that everyone achieves," he said.
Guatemalan sailor Juan Maegli also had a day to remember with a 6th followed by a 3rd which could have been a second had he not had to do a penalty turn just meters from this finish after a port-starboard incident with Dutch sailor Rutger Schaardenburg.
It left him ruing a missed opportunity that could have elevated him above his overall 12th place after the eight qualifying races while Schaardenburg rose two places from seventh to fifth in the rankings.
"It was a good day overall for me with a 6th and a 3rd so in these shifty conditions I'll take that but I was winning the race so it was a shame I wasn't able to capitalize," said Maegli afterwards.
It was a good day too for the Dutch sailors who excelled in the lighter airs with Heiner's win added to a second for Schaardenburg and a third for Yuri Hummel.
"It was a bit of a Dutch day but we have trained a lot in these conditions," said Heiner.
"Mussanah Race Week in March was like this every day so we prefer these conditions to the ones we had on the first three days," he said.
For Scheidt, whose return to top billing in the Laser class at the age of 40 points to levels of talent, professionalism and commitment seldom seen in any sport, it was business as usual though it took him time to hit his straps, finishing 28th in Race 7.
"The wind in the first race was really unstable and I was surprised they started," he said.
"But I got into a bad strategy when I went right and the wind went left so finished well down the fleet but I bounced back in the second race.
"I made a good start, had a good first beat and managed to come away with a race win so I'm pretty happy with that. I hope we have a bit more wind tomorrow, not necessarily strength but in direction because it was very flukey today."
Nick Thompson's roller-coaster regatta continued with another day of mixed fortunes. After losing a protest on Tuesday night that saw him pick up a second disqualification for taking mark-room to which the boat was not entitled in Race 5, he posted a 24th followed by a 5th in the final race.
"The shifts were huge and it was very hard to see them coming which was reflected in the results," Thompson said.
"It was a shame about the second DSQ and it has made it very hard for me now. If I nail all the remaining races, I can discard those two qualifying races but it means I cannot afford to make any more mistakes."
With the qualifying series completed, Robert Scheidt now has a five point lead over Pavlos Kontides of Cyprus with Sweden's Jesper Stalheim four points behind in third place. On Thursday, the fleet is divided into Gold and Silver fleets with two races scheduled each day in both fleets.