Olympic Worlds: Champions Decided in Clearwater
Published on February 14th, 2016
The 2016 World Championship for the Nacra 17, 49er, and 49erFX – the three fastest Olympic sailing events – was held February 9-14 in Clearwater, FL. Over 120 teams from more than 37 countries have been competing in front of the Pier on Clearwater Beach. Here’s the final report from February 14…
When the historians put pen to paper to record the events of this championship, it should be said that the three world champions this week had to do it all. With the absolute range of conditions, including a very challenging sea-state, any team too specialized or under-prepared were revealed.
In the 49er, it was Kiwis Peter Burling and Blair Tuke (above photo) winning their fourth title, and doing it so soundly that they need not sail the final gold race and the medal race. So much for suspense. “It’s been really challenging, a big range of conditions,” notes Tuke. “We’ve sailed in up to 20 knots with big waves, and light tricky stuff so it’s been a real mix of conditions and we’re happy with how we’ve been going across the board.”
While Americans Judge Ryan and Hans Henken were top North Americans in 21st place, it was not enough to beat Thomas Barrows and Joe Morris in the US selection series for the Rio Games. “I feel as though we’re in a really good position to get a good result [at the Games],” said Barrows. “It’ll be nice to go and put the hammer down!”
The Spanish 49erFX team of Tamara Echegoyen and Berta Betanzos went into the final day’s racing with an incredible scoreline from the previous two days of competition, having won four of the last six races and coming 2nd and 3rd in the other two. However, the Spanish looked vulnerable in the flat water and lighter breezes but survived to win. “Today was a gift for all the hard work we have put into our campaign,” said Echegoyen, the London 2012 Olympic Champion in the keelboat match racing.
American sailors Paris Henken and Helena Scutt, who will represent their country in the Rio Games, were the only North American team to qualify for the 49erFX Gold fleet, finishing 13th overall.
Similarly to the dominant Kiwis in the 49er, Billy Besson and Marie Riou (FRA) had separated themselves enough from the Nacra 17 fleet yesterday to mathematically win their fourth world title. Canadians Luke Ramsay and Nikola Girke finished 15th overall to top all North Americans, with Bora Gulari and Louisa Chafee doing just enough to win the US selection series for the Rio Games.