The final and deciding race of the SAP 505 Worlds may not have had the epic qualities of some of the earlier rounds, but still produced some fine sailing in Weymouth Bay. Although Americans Mike Martin and Adam Lowry went into the race with a seemingly comfortable points margin of 22 points over the rest of the field, they could not afford any mishap. If their best currently discarded result of 30th in Race 1 came into play, any one of six rivals could overhaul them for the title.
After the heavy winds of the previous three races, the 130 starting boats had a gentle breeze of 6-8kts to take them on the hour long sail east out of Portland Harbour to the starting area. Since both the 10th and 11th placed finishers in the previous race had already performed the duty, GBR 9131 sailed by Nathan Bachelor and Sam Pascoe, opened proceedings as pathfinder. Not for the first time in this regatta, the start had to be abandoned due to an over eager competitor impeding the gate boat, but all boats behaved themselves at the second time of asking.
By now the breeze had developed a little more oomph, with 10-12kts across most of the race track, and oscillating through about 15 degrees. At the first mark, Philippe Boite and Corbel Florian (FRA) clearly found the softer conditions more to their liking and slipped round at the top of the pile ahead of Mike Holt and Carl Smit (USA) and Germany’s Tim Boger and Markus Schoner. But the big question was the whereabouts of the championship leaders, Martin and Lowry? The answer was buried deep in the 30s round the top mark, thus putting their title hopes in significant jeopardy.
The fleet split down the run, and significant pressure differences across the pitch produced more place changing. At the bottom gate it was Holt and Smit that led marginally from Wolfgang Hunger and Julien Kleiner (GER). The German boat opted to take the opposite side of the gate to Holt and the left hand side of the beat. However, Martin and Lowry also chose some good lines to move up the fleet, rounding in the high teens, enough to win the championship.
The conditions were clearly to the liking of Hunger and Kleiner who outpaced Holt and Smit up the second beat to establish a lead that they would not surrender, although by now the pressure had increased to 14-16kts, giving some sparkling sailing down the reaching legs in the middle of the race. Behind the leading two boats, Timon Treichel and Morten Roos (GER), Tyler Moore and Drew Buttner (USA) and Malcom Higgins and Nick Johnston (AUS) all remained in the hunt for third place.
However, the real story involved Martin and Lowry. It was their championship to lose, but would the pressure get to them? Martin, uniquely a previous winner as both a crew in 1999 and as a helm ten years later, was keeping his cool and was advancing through the fleet. Hunger and Kleiner took the finish gun with a comfortable advantage over Holt and Smit, with Treichel and Roos third. However, the new SAP 505 World Champions Mike Martin and Adam Lowry proved their mettle by crossing in fifth place, a considerable achievement after being apparently buried on the first leg.
The Classic fleet also enjoyed the more benign conditions, with Michael Wilson and Phil Hardisty (GBR) completing a clean sweep of first places in the seven races held.
The day proved a fitting end to a superb championship, with the only bad weather falling on the lay day and with winds ranging from 6kt to 28kts on the race days providing a true test for the competitors. The world class race management by the team from the WPNSA, with rapid and accurate changes to the course axis and length to meet the changing conditions, also played a huge part in ensuring that a full schedule of races was held and that the racing was a fair as possible to all. The title sponsors SAP, together with the clothing sponsors Gul and equipment sponsors Allen all combined to make this a truly memorable event for all involved.
Watch this link to SAP Sports TV to see how the World Championship was won.
World Championship Results