tech2 and Kleenmaid had a great round of the SuperFoiler Grand Prix in Busselton. – photo © Andrea Francolini
Two West Australian skippers have steered their teams to the podium in their home regatta with Perth’s Luke Parkinson (tech2) and Steve Thomas (Pavement) climbing onto the Busselton dais alongside Kleenmaid. tech2 secured a third victory of the regatta to claim the outright win by the slenderest of margins over Pavement.
“I loved the opportunity to be back sailing in WA over the weekend. We had a full range of conditions and this win puts us in great shape for the final in Sydney,” said Busselton’s victorious skipper Luke Parkinson – who thrust tech2 to the top for the very first time.
“It has been a pleasure to sail in such a beautiful location, extremely tight racing it went all the way to the last run of the last race. I am really excited for the Grand Final in Sydney,” said tech2’s mainsheet hand Ayden Menzies.
In what was the most hotly contested regatta to date, Pavement finished four points behind in second.
“Pretty cool for WA to get on top at the home venue. I guess we had a lot of local knowledge,” said Pavement skipper and second on the podium Steve Thomas, “We were stoked to get second – it was a really close race between us and Kleenmaid.”
The regatta also witnessed the breakthrough podium for Olivia Price, Harry Morton and Josh McKnight – who missed out on claiming overall points by just one win. “As a team we’ve been playing the long game, slowly developing our techniques with Sydney being the end goal so this was a really important regatta for us to peak at,” said Kleenmaid mainsheet hand Josh McKnight.
The wash-up is Euroflex’s stranglehold on the championship has slipped after her last placed finish, although her star crew of Nathan Outteridge, Iain Jensen and Glenn Ashby still hold a two-point lead over tech2. It sets up a thrilling climax to the opening series with the Expr3ss! SuperFoiler Grand Final – Sydney from 23 to 25 March, 2018, to decide the first winner of the Ben Lexcen Trophy.
Euroflex – 19 pts
Tech2 – 17 pts
Pavement – 16 pts
Record Point – 12 pts
iD Intranet – 11 pts
Kleenmaid – 10 pts
Red Bull Foiling Generation Regatta in Auckland – Feb 23 – 25
The brainchild of double Olympic champions Roman Hagara and Hans Peter Steinacher, Red Bull Foiling Generation seeks the world’s best young sailors to learn and compete in the next wave of sailing: high-speed foiling catamarans. The champions crowned in France, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria and the USA will go on to represent their countries in November’s World Final in Miami, USA.
After getting off to a flying start in 2015 and 2016, Red Bull Foiling Generation is back to discover the globes top youth sailors. Developed by sports directors Roman Hagara and Hans Peter Steinacher, the series gives wings to talented sailors aged 16-20 by introducing them to the type of cutting-edge foiling technology used in the last America’s Cup.
Auckland’s Waitematā Harbour will host the second stop of the 2017/2018 World Series, being held this Friday, Saturday and Sunday (Feb 23 – 25) at the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron.
RNZYS Youth Training Programme and RNZYS Performance Programme sailors competing include: Nick Egnot-Johnson, Josh Wijohn, Taylor Balogh, James Wilson, Jordan Stevenson, Celia Willison, Charlotte Porter, George Angus and Mitch Jackson.
Olivia Mackay from Auckland, helmed New Zealand to win the Red Bull Foiling Generation World Final in 2016 and has gone on to helm a wildcard boat in the Extreme Sailing Series, and at least 40 previous participants of Foiling Generation are currently in Olympic-class programs for Tokyo 2020.
This week, a new crop of future New Zealand sailing stars have their own chance to shine. Mackay will play coach on-site to New Zealand’s 2018 competitors.
“Phantoms are like no other boat, high paced and loose, it was two of the best regattas I’ve ever competed in.” says Olivia Mackay.
“Getting the opportunity at a world final is always a fun challenge, but in these boats, with this style of racing, it was an absolutely epic experience and a great feeling to represent NZ.”
The City of Sails will see 16 teams of two undergo the Qualification Rounds this Friday Feb 23, followed by Repechage Rounds on Saturday and the Semi Finals and Finals on Sunday.
At each of the national championship events, Red Bull Foiling Generation provides the boats and expert coaching. Each team will race the innovative Flying Phantom, a spectacular multihull catamaran capable of reaching speeds up to 35 knots (nearly 40mph).
All participants gain invaluable experience, as they are coached by Steinacher and Hagara in taking on the demanding challenge of foiling. The Austrian legends are also the masterminds behind the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup, where victorious skipper Peter Burling learned skills that helped him to win the 2017 America’s Cup at the helm of Emirates Team New Zealand.
“I always say that it’s like in motorsport: young people start in karts and they keep moving up toward Formula 1,” Hagara explains. “We want to give these sailors a chance to showcase their skills.”
view video teaser here:
Friday Feb 23 – Qualification Rounds
Saturday Feb 24 – Repechage Rounds
Sunday Feb 25 – Semi Finals & Finals
Red Bull Foiling Generation Race Calendar
The race calendar continues in 2018, for a total of six global stops before the climax of November’s World Final: held in Miami, Florida, USA.
25 – 27 October 2017 – La Baule, France
23 – 25 February 2018 – Auckland, New Zealand
29 June – 1 July 2018 – The Hague, Netherlands
13 – 15 July 2018 – Geneva, Switzerland
10 – 12 August 2018 – Achensee, Austria
9 – 11 November 2018 – Miami, Florida, USA
16 – 18 November 2018 – World Final, Miami, Florida, USA
Clean sweep of the event for the Dream Team on Euroflex © Andrea Francolini
The first ever leg of the SuperFoiler Grand Prix has been claimed in emphatic fashion by Euroflex, with iD Intranet and Pavement on the podium. The star-studded Euroflex crew of Nathan Outteridge, Iain Jensen and Glenn Ashby showed their superiority by claiming victory in all seven races on Adelaide’s Outer Harbour – taking the maximum points into the next regatta.
“Everyone has been on a steep learning curves these last couple of days and the race in Geelong is going to be a next level challenge,” said Euroflex’s Glenn Ashby.
The America’s Cup trio, who boast 24 world championships between them, were tested in the final race of the three-day regatta and trailed iD Intranet for the second time in as many days. But ultimately the class of Euroflex emerged, as they leapfrogged their way to victory.
“I thoroughly enjoyed the tight flat water venue in Adelaide, the hospitality and the weather, it has all been sensational.”
Record Point, who had a capsize on Saturday, continued their difficult run at the regatta after Tom Clout went overboard in the final race of the regatta.
“He clipped his leg on the rudder on the way through which is really not what you want to be doing, a little bit unlucky and not how we wanted to be finishing the event with one man down,” said Record Point’s Phil Robertson.
Clout, an experienced offshore sailor was recovered and continued racing. Leaving Record Point’s kiwi skipper promising to challenge again once racing lights up Victoria.
“We are just not getting it right now. We are not getting it synced up,” said Robertson, “We are fighters so we will be back.”
Euroflex netted 6 points from the Grand Prix Regatta, iD five, Pavement 4, Kleenmaid 3, Record Point 2 and tech2 1 heading into the second leg in Geelong.
This is what happened to tech2 on Saturday:
This was practice on Thursday:
The SuperFoiler Grand Prix is contested over five weekends at five iconic marine locations across Australia (South Australia, Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia and New South Wales) from February 2018.
The first regatta was held on Adelaide’s Outer Harbour from February 2- 4. The Summer series will see the best sailors from around the world compete onboard six SuperFoiler’s for the Ben Lexcen Trophy.
Live-streaming will continue next week on Saturday and Sunday when the racing heads to Geelong at www.superfoiler.com
RNZYS to host the 2018 Red Bull Foiling Generation 2018 New Zealand © RNZYS
The Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron is set to host the 2018 Red Bull Foiling Generation 2018 New Zealand, which will take place from the 22nd to the 25th February 2018.
Red Bull Foiling Generation provides talented young sailors aged 16 – 20 the opportunity to advance their careers through elite hydrofoil racing. The seven-stop series serves as a great training foundation for the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup, which caters to competitors aged 19-25.
In 2016 the RNZYS hosted New Zealand’s first Red Bull Foiling Generation, and the first stop of the 2016 World Series. Olivia Mackay and Micah Wilkinson’s new-found foiling talent was undeniable on the Waitemata Harbour, as they took out the New Zealand competition, eventually going on to take the overall 2016 Foiling World Championship in Newport, USA.
The RNZYS looks forward to hosting this fantastic event in February and cannot wait to unleash another batch of fresh foiling talent onto the world stage.
How to enter
A maximum of 16 Teams shall be accepted for the event with the final selection of teams to be made by 15th January 2018.
Teams or individuals may apply online here: www.rnzys.org.nz/sailing-events/red-bull-foiling-generation-2018
by Andrew Delves
Article reproduced from Catamaran Racing – News and Design – www.catsailingnews.com
Renders & Text sent by Viktor Brejcha, who was part of the design team for the inshore Foiler proposal by Schickler-Tagliapietra / www.styacht.com. I remember asking Paul Larsen on the future of sailing and told me how he he was literally flying over the water, not in the terms we see today with modern foilers but literally flying with only mms of Vestas Rocket foils. Check that interview here.
Below comments from Viktor Brejcha on the ST VOR Foiler
“The ST Foiler project was originated back in mid 2015, with some our of the box thinking. we asked ourselves: “forsee the evolution of foiling sailing multihull design will have a parallel track to aircraft design?” & “what can be learned from the evolution of powered hydrofoil boats?” As a partnership between a naval architect and an aerospace engineer, it was a fruitful thought experiment. We knew that a containerized short course racing machine which could exploit the full potential of hydrodynamics to foil early and often, would be attractive. Both the economics and safety of existing and proposed cat designs left room for improvement.
The concept was developed internally in this way and eventually discussed in the Yacht Racing Forum in Malta. The core ideas: canard arrangement, no movement of crew and use of flapped T foils.
Each idea had implications, with their pros & cons. Some of the finest minds at the heart of multihull racing could see the potential. But it was still just a concept. When VOR went looking for proposals for their inshore racer , we knew it was time to go for it.
The concept was fleshed out with additional design hours, VPP work, styling, ergonomics, and flight stability simulations. Ideas were rejected, rethought or if they could not be topped, folded into the project. The result is exciting and coherent in its design choices.
We received rave reviews from VOR, but their fight against the calendar prevented the continuation to a build program”.
Link to the PDF presentation: here
Vote on Foiling Week Award 2017: foilingweek.com/pages/season-2017/foiling-week-awards-2017/nominations-for-foiling-awards-2017-are-open/
Article reproduced from Catamaran Racing – News and Design
GC32 Orezza Corsica Cup
An unforced error caused victory to slip through the fingers of Malizia – Yacht Club de Monaco on the final day of the GC32 Orezza Corsica Cup, leaving the Swiss Realteam to claim their second event win on the 2017 GC32 Racing Tour.
While summery conditions initially gave way to an overcast sky and rain, out on the Bay of Calvi it was the most stable day with 15-20 knot winds. This enabled one round of the Amonimo Speed Challenge and five races with reaching starts to be held.
In the Anonimo Speed Challenge, it was Jason Carroll’s Argo which made the fastest run today with an average speed of 21.21 knots for the two reaching legs and the gybe between.
“Finally!” exclaimed Argo helmsman Anthony Kotoun. “Yesterday we did a bad one, but today it was good. So yahoo!” As to why they won, Kotoun confided: “This was the first time we have successfully even got close to pulling off a foiling gybe at the mark. And we have won a watch! It’s great to have Anonimo as a sponsor of the Tour.”
Crews and spectators alike today were pleased the race committee was able to set up America’s Cup-style courses with reaching starts/finishes. As the wind piped up to 20 knot for the fourth race, the start became even more of a high-octane affair. Once again the Bay of Calvi’s fish farm formed an obstacle on the left side of the race track forcing boats that went this side to reach into the leeward gate at warp factor. On Argo they hit 36 knots.
Followed her Anonimo Speed Challenge victory, Argo was also firing on all cylinders initially in the fleet racing and posted two bullets in the first two races.
“We got back to our old rhythm and had good communication and good boat handling,” said Kotoun.
Unfortunately, in the third race there was a disaster for Pierre Casiraghi’s Malizia – Yacht Club de Monaco as they rounded the weather mark. As Casiraghi explained: “I hit the mark and hooked the rudder and that’s about it…” The starboard rudder ripped off the transom, forcing the Monegasque to retire from the remaining races. “It was just bad driving,” Casiraghi continued.
“The guys did a great job this week. I am sorry for them because they sailed really well.” The regatta had been Malizia’s to lose, starting the final day with a 14 point lead.
With this, the stakes were raised and the two-way fight for second between Realteam and Argo became a battle for the lead. Initially this went Argo’s way, but Realteam winning races three and four, left the Swiss holding a tenuous one-point lead going into the final, deciding race.
“They were just one point behind us, so the boat that won would come out on top,” explained Swiss skipper Jérôme Clerc. “We made a good start and we were ahead at the first gybe, so then we just had to match them.” This they successfully managed, with Argo overhauling Sébastien Rogues’ Team Engie on the final beat to claim second. As a result Realteam, the team founded by Esteban Garcia, claimed the GC32 Orezza Corsica Cup by two slender points.
“We were checking where they were,” said Clerc. “We knew we had the chance to do some good races in the strong wind. In fact, we didn’t make great starts but we did manoeuvre well and the team did a good job. It is cool, a great fight with Argo. Now – we are now looking where we stand in the Championship.”
Going into the final event of the 2017 GC32 Racing Tour, Marseille One Design, Realteam holds a two-point lead over Argo.
On this occasion, it was Naofumi Kamei’s Mamma Aiuto! that claimed the GC32 Orezza Corsica Cup owner-driver prize. Incredibly there are now three teams – Argo, Mamma Aiuto! and Malizia – Yacht Club de Monaco all tied on points in the 2017 season Owner Driver Championship going into the last event of the season: Marseille One Design will take place over 12-15 October.
Get the very latest news on the GC32 Racing Tour from:
GC32 Orizza Corsica Cup on the bay of Calvi
Calvi was not making it easy for race officials on the penultimate day of the GC32 Orezza Corsica Cup. With the wind blowing 20+ knots in the morning and into the afternoon on the Bay of Calvi, the foiling catamarans were kept ashore until 1530 hrs. Their arrival on the race course then coincided with the wind simply vanishing. Fortunately, patience paid off and finally a light westerly wind filled in, albeit under an overcast sky, enough to complete one round of the Challenge and two windward-leeward races.
The Anonimo Speed Challenge was sailed as usual with guests perched on the front netting of the GC32s and comprised two reaches punctuated by a gybe in between. Despite the sub -10-knot conditions, the nimble GC32s still all put in average speeds of 15+ knots with the Jérôme Clerc-skippered Realteam recording the highest at 18.38 knots, a fraction speedier than Simon Delzoppo’s .film Racing on 18.25.
“I am happy we are the winner of the Anonimo Speed Challenge today,” said Clerc. “It wasn’t the fastest we’ve done because the wind was light, but we managed to fly with the gennaker, so I hope the guests also had some fun. I hope we win the watch!” The skipper of the boat that records the fastest time over the four days of the GC32 Orezza Corsica Cup will receive an Anonimo Nautilo watch.
In the fleet racing, .film Racing was also the top scoring boat of the day posting a 1-2, finally breaking Malizia – Yacht Club de Monaco’s winning streak. In fact, the Monaco team was unfortunate, as on the final run they came close to falling into a hole on the wrong side of a fish farm, that formed an obstruction on the left side of the course. Noticing this, they had to return upwind to sail around the obstruction, and this enabled .film Racing to gybe early and take the lead.
“We love that fish farm!” quipped .film Racing’s Australian skipper, Simon Delzoppo. “We did plan that – the guys did a good job of picking where the breeze was and the holes in the breeze. We knew if we got out there we’d be sailing into the breeze and so we did. The most important thing today was that it was patchy and you just had to have a real good look at where the wind was. Leigh [McMillan] and Ed [Powys] did a great job at that.”
For race two Malizia – Yacht Club de Monaco was back to her winning ways. Pierre Casiraghi returned to the helm of the Monegasque GC32 today, with Sébastien Col back on main sheet. “We had a good start and led the fleet quite early,” said Casiraghi of the second race. “The Australians had to bear off because of the fish farm and the guys on the right had less wind. So it was a good decision and then it was just a case of controlling the fleet and sailing smoothly.”
Casiraghi rejoined his boat today came after his team managed to score five wins from five races yesterday. “There was a bit of pressure after yesterday,” he admitted. “But the boat is going great and the team is good. I am really happy to be back. Tomorrow there could be quite a few races and we’ll try not to come last! Our team is well prepared, so we’ll keep our fingers crossed.”
For the final day of the GC32 Orezza Corsica Cup tomorrow, the first warning signal has been brought forward to 1100 hrs CET. The intention is to hold two more rounds of the Anonimo Speed Challenge followed by up to five races. The day will conclude with a prizegiving at 1700 hrs CET.
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5 bullet day for Malizia – Photos © Jesus Renedo / GC32 Racing Tour
GC32 Orezza Corsica Cup at Calvi
The silver flash, that is the GC32 foiling catamaran Malizia – Yacht Club de Monaco, put in an extraordinary performance, posting a perfect scoreline on day two of the GC32 Orezza Corsica Cup on the Bay of Calvi, despite ultra-tricky conditions.
While the forecast indicated strong wind and big seas, more marginal than on day one, a smart call by the race management team in getting the boats racing three and a half hours earlier than scheduled, paid off. This enabled five windward-leeward races to be sailed, without yesterday’s big swell, but in winds that ranged from 10-25 knots, at times with significant shifts. It was a day when making calls about the correct side was as vital as crew work, adapting sail choice to wind strength.
Former America’s Cup skipper Sebastien Col, who helmed Pierre Casiraghi’s Malizia – Yacht Club de Monaco today and yesterday, said: “I think in the first two races we sailed well, better than the rest of the fleet, and probably getting a bit of luck with a few shifts – but you needed that to win races, because the wind was so shifty. Then by the third race, our confidence had built. Everything was working very well on board.” Calling tactics on board has been young British former Olympic and Figaro sailor, Richard Mason.
To score five wins from five races was exceptional, especially as the Monaco crew did not have it all their own way. The first race, for example, belonged to Naofumi Kamei’s Mamma Aiuto! until the Japanese team fell into a hole in the middle of the race course on the final run, enabling Malizia to blaze into the lead and take the gun. In the breezy third race Mamma Aiuto! again had the bit between her teeth, finishing close behind Malizia, but again not taking the bullet.
In today’s fourth race, it was the turn of Simon Delzoppo’s new team, .film Racing, to enjoy her share of the limelight briefly. She was well ahead at the first top mark and down the run but was forced into a gybe at the leeward gate by Malizia, for which her crew, that includes 2015 GC32 Racing Tour winner Leigh McMillan, was unprepared. The Australian GC32 looked certain to capsize, but a miracle caused them to come back from the brink.
“We all managed to hang on pretty well,” said Delzoppo. “I was steering with my feet up in the air, but I steered all the way through, and then we managed to dump the main and did a bear away. It was pretty exciting.”
This incident was equally exciting for Malizia – Yacht Club de Monaco as they were trying to roll around the Aussie team at the gate mark. As Sébastien Col explained: “Initially I thought they were going to capsize on top of us so I went inside them. But then they didn’t capsize!” So [risking that Malizia’s weather hull would land on top of them] I said ‘we have to go fast here!’ It was a tricky moment.”
While Malizia – Yacht Club de Monaco has disappeared into the top spot of the leaderboard on 11 points, behind, it is very close with Jason Carroll’s Argo in second and just six points separating second from fourth place.
Morgan Larson, who sailed Alinghi to second place on the GC32 Racing Tour in 2015, is back crewing on board Argo here in Calvi.
“There were a couple of hair-raising moments, but it was a good day. The guys did a good job, making up with my deficit in boat handling. The boat really requires good skills throughout the whole team, because when you do little things wrong it looks really bad. We had a small problem with the sail unfurling in a puff upwind by accident. It feels like you’re making mistakes all day long and giving up points, but the reality is everybody is. It’s very competitive sailing, great to be back.”
Tomorrow conditions are forecast to be more regular in the afternoon when 15-18 knots are forecast. The aim is to return to the schedule with a first warning signal at 1230 for two rounds of the Anonimo Speed Challenge followed by racing with reaching starts.
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Big breeze out on the Bay of Calvi. Photo: Jesus Renedo / GC32 Racing Tour
GC32 Orezza Corsica Cup
Day one the GC32 Orezza Corsica Cup, penultimate event on the 2017 GC32 Racing Tour, dawned magnificently with light winds and a warm sun on the Bay of Calvi. But as the morning progressed the wind and swell had grown to Volvo Ocean Race proportions and were in a generally vicious mood. Despite this, the local race management team and Principal Race Officer Stuart Childerley, successfully managed to fire off two races, albeit hair-raising ones, on an often foam-filled course.
Anticipating such conditions, crews had been warned to prepare for an early start with racing beginning at 1000 hrs, three hours earlier than scheduled.
Already by the time racing started the wind was above 20 knots and a swell had formed, big enough to cause the GC32s to disappear occasionally into the troughs. The right of the race course was generally worse, being on the open ocean side, while the top mark was laid in the shadow of Calvi’s impressive Citadel.
Malizia – Yacht Club de Monaco scored a fine win in the opening race, with former America’s Cup skipper Sébastien Col standing in on the helm today for Pierre Casiraghi.
“We have a strong team and the guys did a good job with good manoeuvres and boat speed,” said Col. “We sailed quite conservatively and didn’t push too much. It was pretty tough, especially on starboard downwind when we were sailing into the waves. For that, we have ‘skimming mode’, with less rake angle but allowing more play of the foil tip to help keep the bows out.”
Unfortunately, in the second race, Malizia – Yacht Club de Monaco snared the windward mark and lost places trying to disentangle themselves. This race went to overall GC32 Racing Tour leader Realteam, skippered by Jérôme Clerc. In this race the Swiss team finished narrowly ahead of Jason Carroll’s Argo, being helmed here by American Anthony Kotoun. Of today’s racing, Kotoun said: “Our boat saw a sustained 23-24 knots and more in the gusts. The wind is important, but the real issue was that the sea state on starboard gybe was pretty bad. Today we were not making calls versus other boats, we were making calls about how to get around the course in a seamanlike way. It was fun, but I think I have a little bit of an evil personality as part of me enjoys it a little bit. But safety is paramount in these situations.”
Before racing started Erik Maris’ Zoulou buried her bow into the back of a big wave and capsized. Unfortunately, in the incident, two of her crew sustained injuries. They were rapidly taken ashore and on to the hospital. The boat was towed back into Calvi Marina and righted by a crane at the dock. Her mast was broken in the incident.
Of racing in today’s big conditions, 2015 GC32 Racing Tour winning skipper Leigh McMillan, here racing on Simon Delzoppo’s film Racing, said: “It was slightly above the top end probably to race because we were going around the course almost in survival mode. But we found a nice safe mode to get around without being too far behind the fleet.”
Oddly this was one of the few occasions that the GC32s were actively trying not to get flying. As McMillan continued: “We were trying just to keep the boat steady, tracking along and get the manoeuvres in safely and finish the day the right way up. We played with the rake of the foils and we were kind of semi-foiling most of the time.”
After two races the boats were sent back into Calvi Marina and soon after racing was suspended for the day.
Leader at the end of the day one is Realteam with a 2-1 scoreline, three points ahead of Malizia – Yacht Club de Monaco.
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Ben Saxton & Katie Dabson (GBR) – photo c Didier Hillaire
Nacra 17 World Championship, La Grande Motte, France
From the closest and most exciting finishes to a world championship medal race in the Nacra 17 multihull class, Great Britain’s Ben Saxton and Katie Dabson pipped Spanish rivals Fernando Echavarri and Tara Pacheco, foiling at full speed across the finish line to win the 2017 Nacra 17 World Championship title on the French waters of the Baie d’Aigues Mortes by La Grande Motte.
Down the final run the Spanish veteran Echavarri, 2008 Olympic gold medallist in the Tornado catamaran class, sailing with Tara Pachecho, lead the British duo into the finish of the double points medal race but was lifted by the breeze and lost out to the flying, fully foiling Brits who judged to perfection their layline to the finish.
“In all my years that is the closest finish I have been involved in. It was decided in the last 20 seconds.” smiled Echavarri ruefully, “But to be honest if it is not us who won I am happy to see Ben and Katie win, they have worked hard and deserve it.”
“When we were coming towards the top of the second beat I said to Katie ‘world champions, all we have to do is pass that boat. So we were gunning it down pretty hard, we really went for it.” reported helm Saxton who was runner up for the World Championship title in 2013 in The Hague.
After a disappointing ninth at the 2016 Rio Olympic regatta Saxton paired up only in May with childhood friend Dabson, a Plymouth University BA Hons graduate in Accountancy and Finance, who only went into full time sailing after completing her degree, inspired by the 2012 Olympics in Weymouth.
The new world champions have been friends at England’s Grafham Water Sailing Club since they were cadets and their fathers race a Flying 15 together on Wednesday nights.
For Dabson who had a year spell in the 470 it has been a dream baptism into the class and catamaran sailing. The duo had sailed three regattas together and medalled at them all, third as the Sailing World Cup Finals and also taking bronze at the European Championship in Kiel, Germany.
“It is pretty surreal. I am so happy and was quite emotional crossing the finish line.” said Dabson, “Before May I did a year in the 470 but this is my first real Olympic sailing so it is amazing. It was down to which of the top three did best in the medal race, so we had a bit. We kept our cool. We raced our boat and we did it. Ben was just saying, ‘race our boat, keep our tempo, it is the same as any other race, you know what you are doing, so do it!”
“We both work hard and we put together a pretty consistent week. We just kept on churning. We have good support here and they really keep us grounded.” added Saxton, “I know the Olympics are three years away but it is great to win. It is fantastic.”
Echavarri, sailing with Pacheco – who won the European title on these same waters in 2014 with Iker Martinez – completes a successful post Olympic season after winning the Sailing World Cup Finals on his native Santander waters and finishing runner up in the European Championships to Italy’s Ruggero Tita and Caterina Banti who finish third, 14 points behind the Spanish runners up, whose best Nacra 17 Worlds result this is.
In the gusty, offshore, 11 – 22 knots of breeze, Tita and Banti tangled with Spain’s Iker Martinez and Olga Maslivets approaching the first windward mark. Martinez and Maslivets were dismasted and neither pair could complete the Medal Race course.
“We were arriving at the top mark and were below the mark so we needed two more tacks but there was not enough space to clear Iker. We tried to stop but we hit them, our bowsprit got stuck on their trapeze and ten seconds later their mast broke. It was a really big mistake on our part. We had a really good week but could have done better. Third place is not gained with a smile, we deserved to do better.” said European champion helm Tita.
The Medal Race in the gusty breezes and flat water was a perfect arena showcase finale to the 2017 Nacra 17 World Championships. Ironically at the first post-Olympic meeting of all three 2016 Rio medal winners, none made the cut into the top ten qualifiers for the medal race. Australia’s silver winners Jason Waterhouse and Lisa Darmanin finished 11th and Argentina’s Santi Lange and Cecilia Carranza – who scored a BFD in the penultimate race – finished 13th. New Zealand’s Gemma Jones and Jason Saunders won both the last Finals races prior to the medal race and finish fourth overall, repeating their Rio finish.
It was appropriate in the first flying, foiling medal race that Saxton and Dabson clinched the title at maximum speed, fully foiling down the last part of the last run to steal second place. Germany’s Paul Kohlhoff and Alicia Stuhlemmer lead from the first mark and won the medal race to finish fifth overall.
Disappointment at his ninth in Rio has been a spur for Saxton who took six months out before restarting with Nicola Groves before the first time Olympian decided to pursue other avenues.
“I was really gutted after the Games. I had given it everything and have no regrets but we were in a medal position for the first half of the regatta then we had the worst score for years. We were happy with the programme we put together. Nic wanted to earn some money and did not want to be 31 years and pulling a Nacra mainsheet in. She was happy to have been to the Olympics and wanted to move on to her job in London. I have been full on since January. I have done all the events to stay racing sharp. We won this regatta on tactical decisions, like gybe setting in the medal race. We were mid fleet, gybe set and got up to second.” Saxton added,
“We have such a good squad in Britain and did three months hard work in Weymouth with our coaches Hugh (Styles) and Derek (Clark). We had an awesome time and learned a lot together. And the 49er guys (Dylan Fletcher and Stu Bithell) winning the world 49er title last weekend, and James (Peters) and Fynn (Sterrit) got a medal too, so it did cross my mind I should buck my ideas up.”
Nacra 17 World Championship, La Grande Motte, France.
1 Ben SAXTON/Katie DABSON (GBR) 92pts
2 Fernando ECHAVARRI ERASUN/Tara PACHECO (ESP) 95pts
3 Ruggero TITA/Caterina BANTI (ITA) 109pts
4 Gemma JONES/Jason SAUNDERS (NZL) 111pts
5 Paul KOHLHOFF/Alicia STUHLEMMER (GER) 115pts
6 John GIMSON/Anna BURNET (GBR) 115pts
7 Moana VAIREAUX/Manon AUDINET (FRA) 121pts
8 Lin Ea CENHOLT/Christian Peter LUBECK (DEN) 122pts
9 Iker MARTINEZ/Olga MASLIVETS (ESP) 128pts
10 Olivia MACKAY/Micah WILKINSON (NZL) 129pts
Full results @ http://bit.ly/2xOudIo
Photos Copyright Didier Hillaire : HERE