Jon Bilger's success at World Masters Games in the wind

April 29th, 2017

As a wind predictor, Jon Bilger thinks he's got an advantage when it comes to the World Masters Games but the only issue is his predictions are available for all of his rivals.

He still hasn't been tempted to put out any rogue information, though.

"It's hard enough getting it right without doing that," he said. "Anyone can subscribe and see what I can see so there are no secrets there, really."

The former Olympian has still been able to find a successful formula this week and only a major mistake tomorrow will deny him from taking the single-handed Weta title. He holds an 18-point advantage over his closest rival, Martin Cross of Australia.

The only thing hanging over Bilger is the fact he was disqualified for being over the line in race three, meaning another disqualification would ruin his regatta and it has been playing on his mind throughout the week.

"I'm going to be very conservative tomorrow," Bilger said. "I have a good buffer now and, as long as I stay in the top five in all of the races and make sure I don't get over the line [at the start], it should be all good."

Bilger was seventh with Craig Greenwood in the men's 470 at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics and worked as a weather man for Swiss syndicate Alinghi for their America's Cup campaigns between 2003 and 2010.

He hadn't really been involved in competitive sailing for about 15 years but was convinced to jump in a Weta about five years ago for the national championships and fell in love with the trimarans.

"It's been an awesome week and it's great to be up there."

Scott Leith is on target to collect his seventh masters title in eight years in the Laser Radial and has been a model of consistency all week. He hasn't finished outside the top two across seven races and holds a seven-point lead over Australian Adam Beashel, who was a strategist for Team New Zealand's 2003 America's Cup campaign.

"I have won six of the last seven world championships so I have learned how to win," said Leith, who was on the Masters Games organising committee and tried to convince his rivals from around the world to compete in Auckland. "I really just need to win one out of two races tomorrow and I haven't placed outside of the top two."

It's a similar story in the double-handed Weta, with New Zealand's Brent and Sarinan Gribble collecting nine wins in the 11 races sailed so far. They hold an eight-point lead over Australian pair Tony Sadlier and Beryl Morris heading into tomorrow's racing.

One of the tightest races is in the Lasers apprentice masters, with three-time Olympian Dan Slater one point ahead of Matt Blakey. The pair were once rivals for a spot at the Olympics and the younger Blakey would like to turn the tables this time around.

"It would be nice," he said. "We go back a long time and even went to the same school. It would be good to get the gold but anything can still happen."

Slater is patently aware of that and is out to minimise mistakes tomorrow.

"There have been some frustrating moments [throughout the week]," he said. "You know you have made a mistake and you are like, 'how stupid am I?' You know better but you're just not as sharp as you were."

Forecast winds of 10-15 knots should see Slater and Blakey among the frontrunners tomorrow and they're bound to keep an eye on each other.

It might also pay for them to have a look at Bilger's wind predictions


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