Mixed day at the Formula 18 Worlds
Darren Bundock/Will Howden on their C2 catamaran and Olivier Backes/Arnaud Jarlegan on their modified Hobie Wild Cat have broken away after the first day of finals racing at the Formula 18 World Championship in Erquy, France. The Aussie/Anglo duo continue to lead on 30 points with the French four behind them, but third placed François Morvan and Mattieu Vandame are now some 29 points off the lead.
Once again racing was postponed awaiting the sea breeze and while the thermal wind filled in nicely it then died off during the afternoon, the third race finishing in just 3-4 knots.
It was a mixed day for BMW Oracle Racing duo Glenn Ashby and James Spithill who finished second in race one today, won the second but posted a 30th in the final race, with the net result pulling them up to 6th overall. The same was true for Dutch duo Mischa Heemskerk and Bastiaan Tentij, who won the first race but who have plummeted to 14th overall after subsequently scoring an OCS and a 21st. The final race was won by Greek ex-Olympic Tornado sailors Iordanis Paschalidis and Konstantinos Trigonis pulling them up to 16th in the giant 159 boat fleet.
“You should have called me yesterday,” was Mitch Booth’s retort when The Daily Sail spoke to him. Second going into the finals at the end of Tuesday’s racing, he posted a second in the final race today but had been black flagged in the first race dropping him to 12th overall - assuming that stands. Booth is adamant that the BFD was a questionable call and intends to pursue his case tomorrow. “Everyone started on port and blasted through. There was a pile up at the pin end. We are still to understand how we got an OCS. Gunnar Larsen ran up our backside and put a dent in the back beam.”
Bumper cars can be the order of the day in such a big fleet even when it has been divided in two. Booth says he and his crew Pim Nieuwenhuis have been relatively unscathed this regatta but there are a lot of war stories being told on the beach at Erquy. Hugh Styles is alleged to have run down a camera boat...
Having been a regular at the F18 Worlds since its inception, Booth is impressed by the scale of the fleet this year. “It seems to be getting stronger and bigger each year. Have a look at the depth of sailors here and it is quite staggering. It is just huge. It is good for the class generally.”
He is racing a Wild Cat for Hobie and says that Wild Cats and Nacras are in the majority in Erquy. “I don't have the numbers, but there are a lot of Wildcats. The Wild Cat was launched just over a year ago and since then nearly 300 boats have been delivered.” 300 boats – and in a year that was one of the toughest economically around the world. Booth reckons that the high take-up may have been people trading up from their older Hobie Tigers. “There are roughly 10 Tigers here, whereas last year we had 40.”
While the F18 is a box rule and therefore in theory relatively open in fact typically competitors race stock production boats (as he and Nieuwenhuis are), however some modifications are being made. “There are a few guys playing with masts and a couple are doing different sails, centreboards, etc. We have had a few problems with centreboards breaking, so people have been experimenting with them. But the hull, the platform, people leave those alone, it is just the add-ons. In the end the boats are very very close and the formula proves gain to be a good formula.”
There are two more days of racing to go...