Australia Wins 29er Worlds

Published on July 30th, 2016

Medemblik, Netherlands (July 30, 2016) – On the final day of the 29er Worlds 2016, Tom Crockett and Harry Morton from Australia finished the job and grabbed the World title. Gwendal Nael and Lilian Mercier from France took silver as best youth team. The British sailors Crispin Beaumont and Tom Darling secured bronze. But the girls fought the biggest battle for being best all female team. Annabelle Davies and Hayley Clark from Australia won buy one point in ninth position.

Both golden Aussie boats came in together with their national flag flying and with big smiles. For 19-year old Harry Morton it was his second World title, as he also won in 2010, but to do it again with his long-term friend Tom Crockett is special. “On the very first day sailing together, we didn’t imagine this would ever happen,” Morton said.

“This is just amazing,” Crockett said. “This morning I was a bit nervous. It wasn’t over, but we have just sailed how we have done every day; stay consistent. We tried to avoid covering the French boys. We wanted to sail our own races.”

After finishing 2nd and 13th in the first two races of the final day, they already assured gold with one race to go. For Morton it is time to move on to the 49er. Not for Crockett: “I am only 14, so I have many years left.”

Medemblik seems to be a lucky location for Gwendal Neal, since he won the 2015 European title here with a different crew. “I think I like this place now,” laughs Nael, who has teamed up with Lilian Mercier. “Today, it was a bit lighter, so that was easier for us. We had some good starts. It was hard, but we managed to stay in front in the final two races of today.”

In addition to the silver medal, they won the qualification for the World Sailing Youth Worlds and they have finished as best youth team.

Earlier this week, the British duo Crispin Beaumont and Tom Darling said that they were hoping for a good result at their last Worlds. Bronze is the colour for last year’s silver medalists at the 29er Europeans in Medemblik.

“This is even better than we were hoping for,” admitted Darling. “We were thinking that a top five or maybe top ten would be very nice. To get on the podium is really special, we are so happy.” About the championship in general they said: “It was hard. The quality of the fleet is improving all the time. Every country seems to get a little bit better. This is also the biggest Worlds, we have seen so far. The depth of the fleet is amazing. We are just happy to win a medal at the biggest Worlds ever.”

After the Youth Worlds in January, their 29er will be parked. Darling: “We are not really the right size for the 49er. We like to take break from the competitive stuff and enjoy life and the social part of the sailing world rather than to be so driven. We have achieved what we wanted to achieve, so I think it is the right time to take a well-deserved time-out.”

This morning, the Polish girls Aleksandra Melzacka and Maja Micinski were first all female team in 13th position with 132 points. Their closest competitors were 26th placed Annabelle Davies and Hayley Clark from Australia. The gap was 32 points. Melzacka and Micinski commenced with a 1 and 7, Davies and Clark with a 13 and 2. It looked promising for the Polish duo, until they saw their sail number on the board as 1 of the 10 black flags.

Melzacka: “We didn’t know we were over, because we were in between boats and behind sails. I thought we were ok. I am a little bit disappointed. We want to be the first girls team and we want to have the highest possible ranking overall.”

That was, however, no longer in their hands, because the race was still on and their Australian rivals were flying.

They took the bullet and climbed on the leader board to the ninth position overall as best girls team, one point ahead of Melzacka and Micinski. Clark: “It was really exciting today, but we didn’t think we could win. It was a small chance to be on our game.” Davies adds: “We just went out there and said we would do our best and see how many points we could climb. We got some nice starts and from there it made it so much easier to play a conservative game and to take some shifts. It was very choppy, but we found the chop a bit more manageable than yesterday. We could catch a few guys on the downwind.”

As the top North Americans in 19th place, Quinn Wilson and Riley Gibbs (USA) had an up and down series. Rising as high as third in the qualifiers, they could not carry that momentum into the finals when the scoreboard started fresh. With a late comeback rolling with a 2-4-12, their final race BFD sent them down the standings.

The great variety of conditions with a wind ranging between 4 and 20 knots, made it a fair championship. All scheduled races could be sailed.

Racing for the 228 teams was scheduled for July 25-30.

Top five after 10 final races and one discard
1 AUS 2262 – Tom Crockett and Harry Morton, 32 points
2 FRA 8 – Gwendal Nael and Lilian Mercier, 36 points
3 GBR 16 – Crispin Beaumont and Tom Darling, 77 points
4 GER 2260 – Gwendal Lamay and Luke Willim, 104 points
5 NED 21 – Cas van Dongen and Robin Becker, 105 points

Winners silver fleet: AUS 1934 – Ezra Pritchard and Tom Cunich
Winners bronze fleet: NED 1025 – Willemijn Offerman and Manus Offerman
Winners emerald: USA 1265 – Hannah Steadman and Gabrielle Rizika

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Source: Diana Bogaards, 29er Worlds

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