5O5 Worlds: The defense rests
Published on April 3rd, 2015
Port Elizabeth, South Africa (April 3, 2015) – The final race of the 60th SAP 5O5 World Championships sailed in Algoa Bay was a humdinger with places changing regularly due to differing pressure and wind shifts of 10 degrees in a race to determine second and third place. Mike Holt and Carl Smit (USA) sat out this race as they had already won the World Championship with a day to spare with their 5th of 7 bullets.
2008 World Champion, Ian Pennell with crew Johannes Tellen from Great Britain, were the pathfinder for this race and sailed out on port tack for the prescribed two minutes watching a rather messy start from the rest of the fleet. After being released they continued sailing out on the right hand side of the course and enjoyed a decent lift in around 10 knots of breeze half way up the course.
With the wind increasing in pressure Howard Hamlin and Jeff Nelson moved into the lead on the first beat and, in great excitement for South Africa, James Largier and Richard Hutton-Squire moved in second place for a hundred metres or so – the highest placing for an SA team thus far – as they charged up the middle of the course approaching the windward mark.
But it was not to be for the South Africans as Hamlin/Neslon were first around followed by Largier/Hutton-Squire trailing by 30 metres with Higgins/Marsh third around.
Even greater excitement in Leg 3 as SA’s Largier/HuttonSquire moved into first place and were going strong at 12.2 knots on right hand side of the downwind leg. The internationals showed some snappy gybes and overtook the South Africans with Terry Scutcher and Christian Diebitsch from Great Britain showing a clean pair of heels to the fleet first around the bottom mark.
Back up to the top again most boats went right whilst the battle for Lady Helm carried on in the middle of the course between Tina Plattner (RSA) and Nicola Birkner (GER). Before the start of today’s race Nicola said of Tina; “Her strength is that she has David on the wire which gives us a disadvantage” whilst Tina said that Nicola’s strength is; “She has sailed longer than me and is great in the light stuff!”
Up at the second rounding of the top mark Higgins was overtaken by Pinnell closer to the zone with Largier snapping at their heels eager for the reach. Largier lost places on his previous roundings as the internationals performed faultless smooth maneuvers.
Onto the first reach and Largier/Hutton Squire were pushing hard to catch up averaging 13.2 knots for the first burst from the offset mark.
2015 World Champion, Mike Holt sat out this race and was out on the course watching the racing and his comments on the days conditions were that big shifts and pressure changes were making for some great and challenging racing. Port Elizabeth has presented some varied conditions for the World Championships from light and sunny to big and choppy and for today – grey and shifty.
Onto the tight reach Higgins pulled ahead of Pinnell with Largier suffering from the direction change after rounding.
The last downwind was to be the decider with both Higgins/Marsh and Pinnell/Tellen experiencing great and then terrible gybes in the race to the bottom mark. Higgins’ bad gybe was just before the mark, allowing Pinnell to attack and grab the favoured right hand gate mark to go into the lead, gain 70 metres on Higgins and win Race 8 to secure second place in the World Championships on 13 points.
Great news for Team South Africa in Race 8 was two top 10 finishers – Peter and Thomas Funke in 7th place and James Largier and Richard Hutton-Squire in 5th place, the highest placing for a South African boat in the championship.
Report by Alan Straton. Photo by Christophe Favreau/ SAP.