Clash of the speedsters
Monday May 12th 2003, Author: Tati Pokorny, Location: none selectedThe premiere of the new Volvo Champions Race has set a new level for first class performance sailing alongside a great show in Southern Germany.
Over four days the world's top Tornado and 49er sailors have turned Lake Constance into a spectacular racing arena. Despite the light winds that dominated the series, thousands of spectators enjoyed action-packed manoeuvres and roundings that took place less than ten metres away from the mole.
In the end the competitors did not find a way to prevent the favourites getting ahead in this new Sail Sports Show that involved short, intense races of no more than 14-16
Sydney Silver medallist Darren Bundock and Glenn Ashby (23 pts) are the new Tornado Volvo Champions, taking home 3.000 Euro in prize money.
Three times World Champion and olympic Bronze medallist Roland Gäbler (27 pts) surprised himself the most by coming second with his new crew Andreas John and taking home 2.000 Euro whilst eight times World Champion Mitch Booth and Herbert Dercksen (30 pts) finished third taking home 1.500 Euro.
There was Danish Dynamite in the 49er: The Hansen Brothers, Peder and Soren (15 pts), won the series in convincing style including four firsts. The team from Aarhus finished on top of the rankings ahead of Switzerland´s Marcel Walser and Caspar Buettner (20 pts) and Germany´s Marcus Baur and Max Groy (24 pts).
The winning crews were celebrated with their national athems and awarded with the cheques at the prize giving. Three time World Champion, Roland Gäbler, commented: "I never ever thought that we would be able to finish on the podium."
Only a few weeks after his Olympic comeback Gäbler seems to be in perfect shape for his fourth olympic campaign. Still the 38 year old nine time European Champion keeps a realistic perspective: "In stronger winds I would place ourselves within the top 15 at the moment."
Gäbler also commented on the new format of the Volvo Champions Race, saying "it was such a great event that every sailor in the olympic classes should take notice of. This tour alongside with events like the Volvo Ocean Race and the America´s Cup is showing the new modern face of sailing. This is the right way into the future."
While there were a few 1,000 fans watching the races during day time, people also appriciated the night programme. More than 1,000 people celebrated together on Saturday evening's Metaxa Night.
Thomas Hanel, member of the board of Volvo Car Germany and spokesman, believes the organisers have chosen the right concept: "It has been a wonderful premiere. If we go on like this we will carry on with the series in 2004. Sailing is attractive for spectators - if they can see it. That's what we are aiming at. With the Volvo Champions Race we want to create a new brand in national and international sailing representing the modern
look of Olympic sport. Additionally we want to show that Olympic sailing still is the base for all racing sailors, especially those competing in the Volvo Ocean Race."
Olympic Silver medallist Darren Bundock did not only enjoy his own performance alongside with his crew 'Gashby' but also the racing format that offered plenty of racing plus show parts to entertain the people. "The Volvo Champions Race is fantastic for our sport," he commented. "My special thanks to Volvo that they were brave enough to start a series like this. We will certainly be back for the next two stopovers of the tour. We are looking forward to competing in Schwerin and Travemünde. Also because we expect more wind and thus more options to show people the exciting part of our such as speed
The next event in the Volvo Champions Race will be in Schwerin (36 July) before the series ends in Travemünde (912 October). Apart from 15.000 Euros prize money for each event there is also an additional purse of 35.000 Euros to be split amongst the top eight teams overall in each class.
Overall Results Volvo Champions Race
Constance, May 8 - 13 2003
1st Darren Bundock/Glenn Ashby (AUS) 23 pts
2nd Roland Gäbler/Andreas John (GER) 27 pts
3rd Mitch Booth/Herbert Dercksen (NED) 30 pts
4th Peder Ronholt/Soren Jörgensen (DEN) 39 pts
5th Andrew Landenberger/Johannes Polgar (GER) 43 pts
6th Martin Rusterholz/Andy Heuss (SUI) 56 pts
7th Nils Bunkenburg/Gunnar Struckmann (GER) 63 pts
8th Christian Sach/Kirsa Sach (GER) 75 pts
1st Peter Hansen/Sören Hansen (DEN) 15 Punkte
2nd Marcel Walser/Caspar Buettner (SUI) 20 Punkte
3rd Marcus Baur/Max Groy (GER) 24 Punkte
4th Tom Ruegge/Jörg Steiner (SUI) 26 Punkte
5th Jan-Peter Peckolt/Hannes Peckolt (GER) 35 Punkte
6th Markus Steeg/Moritz Deml (GER) 39 Punkte
7th Nico Delle-Karth/Nikolaus Resch (AUT) 46 Punkte
8th Gabriel Wicke/Wolf Jeschonnek (GER) 48 Punkte
Roland Gäbler and Andreas John
Mitch Booth and Herbert Dercksen hard at work
Fraught mark rounding in the 49ers
Peter Hansen and Soren Hansen
Darren Bundock and Glenn Ashby
The 49er winners