Both GBR teams into gold fleet

Broken gear makes life hard for the Dutch at the Team Racing World Championship

Monday February 3rd 2003, Author: Jim Murdoch, Location: Australasia
The Netherlands had to take a long and soggy route to the top tier of the Team Racing World Championships on Auckland’s Waitemata Harbour today.

While favourites United States 2 and New Zealand 1 cruised through to the gold fleet of the regatta, the unlucky Netherlands was forced to sail an extra five races in the repechage round to make it through. United States 2, runner-up for the champions title at the last two world championships, was the only unbeaten team in the round robin with 15 wins. Defending champions New Zealand 1, from the Kerikeri Yacht Club, ended up on 13 wins in second place going into the gold league.

The Netherlands’ troubles began when a sailor fell overboard after a hiking strap snapped in one of the 420 dinghies it was racing. The Dutch lost the race to close rivals Ireland 1, but lodged a protest afterwards. Had it been upheld, the race re-sailed and the result reversed, the Netherlands would have made the cut for the gold fleet ahead of the Irish.

Instead the protest was unsuccessful and the Dutch crew had to stay on the water for another two hours to grab a top eight berth. The Netherlands team competing in Auckland is the only Team Racing crew in Holland, so practising for a world championship can be difficult. The three-boat crew have to sail against each other, or travel to Britain to race.

The team has been together for six years, competing at three world championships, but this could be their last event. One of the stalwarts of the team, 25-year-old medical student Sloortje Hendriksen, has decided to stay on after the event to work in New Zealand for a year, and the team could well disband.

New Zealand 2, the youth team from the Kohimarama Yacht Club, also made the repechage phase, but did not progress and will now sail in the silver fleet. It was Australia 1 who was the big mover and shaker this evening, coming from second-to-last in the repechage rankings to grab the other spot with the Netherlands.

They now join the top six teams from the round robin who automatically qualifed for the gold fleet - USA 2, New Zealand 1 USA 1, both Great Britain crews and Ireland 1.
On a day of shifty 10-15 knot souwesterlies, the highlight was the grudge match of the regatta – where United States 2 outsailed defending champion New Zealand 1 in a classic example of tactical team racing.

Places switched furiously between the six boats throughout the race, and on the final leg, the US boats tactically decided against chasing down the leading Kiwi boat to concentrate on bringing their trailing team-mates further up the fleet. It worked a charm for the Americans, who won the clash with 2nd, 3rd and 4th finishes.

USA 2, 15 wins, 0 losses
New Zealand 1, 13-2
USA 1, 11-4
Great Britain 1, 11-4
Great Britain 2, 10-5
Ireland 1, 10-5
Netherlands, 9-6
Ireland 2, 8-7

Czech Republic, 8-7
New Zealand 2, 7-8
Australia 1, 6-9
Australia 2, 5-10
Japan 1, 4-11
Japan 2, 3-12
India 1, 2-13
India 2, 0-15

Repechage (five races):
Netherlands, 4 wins, 1 loss
Australia 1, 4-1
Australia 2, 3-2
New Zealand 2, 2-3
Czech Republic, 2-3
Ireland 2, 0-5

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