Photos: Nikola Sisko

Nathan Outteridge enters the history books

Fourth 49er World Championship win for Australian legend as the class is saddened by the news of Frank Bethwaite's death

Saturday May 12th 2012, Author: James Boyd, Location: Croatia

Australians Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen made history today by winning the Seiko 49er World Championship in Zadar, Croatia, Outteridge beating the previous three wins of Chris Nicholson and Iker Martinez/Xabi Fernandez. Outteridge first tasted success back in 2008, alongside former crew Ben Austin, and then claiming the 2009, 2011 and now the 2012, titles with Jensen.


Two races were held in the morning for the silver and gold fleets and the bronze fleet results stood on the previous days score.

Six to eight knot winds mixed the fleet up as last attempts were made to make the medal race.

Young guns Marcus Hansen and Josh Prebski (NZL) sailed a brilliant medal race to move them up in the standings with the medal race held directly in front of the S.C. Uskok to the delight of the crowds that had gathered on the beach and pier to cheer on the sailors.

Second overall and 13 points behind the Australians were Peter Burling and Blair Tuke (NZL) who had incredible speed and showed amazing ability to pick the right shifts on the water all week. Danish Olympic team members Allan Norregaard and Peter Lang moved into the bronze medal position by having two good results earlier in the day and finishing 4th in the medal race, ending up 15 points behind second.

“It’s a great feeling to win a fourth World Championship and my third with Iain,” said Outteridge. “We didn’t have the best day’s racing today but we were able to show that we can still win when we’re not sailing at our best, we were able to tough it out and get the job done. It sends a good message to the rest of the fleet and shows that the hard work we did earlier this year at home is really playing off. Even though we were winning consistently there were some weaknesses in our racing and I think this week has shown that they’re gone now.”

The Australian pair went into the final day with an eight point lead over the Kiwis with two races held early in the day in light conditions to decide the top 10 for the final medal race. In the tricky conditions Outteridge and Jensen had their worst two results of the event, a 15th and a 12th, but kept Burling and Tuke in check to actually extend their lead to 17 points heading into the medal race.

The brief for the medal race to secure the title was simple: don’t finish last, and the Australians made sure of that, crossing the line two places behind the Kiwis in eighth.

“The conditions were really tough today,” said Outteridge, who now hightails it to Venice to take the helm of Team Korea at the America's Cup World Series there. “The first two races were held in less than five knots. Then the medal race was right in close to shore and it was between five and 10 knots with mega shifts making it really challenging. We’re really happy for the Kiwis to be up there. We’ve been pushing each other for the past two years and it’s rewarding to see both crews at the front. We’ll take a lot of confidence from this into the Olympics and hopefully we can both be there fighting at the front come the medal race in Weymouth. We’re only as good as those that we train against and while the results may look easy we can’t do it without those around us and our coach Emmett Lazich is a major part of that. It’s very satisfying to win four World Championships, and three since teaming up with Iain in 2009, and that success was never going to happen without the support of Emmett.”

Unfortunately the day was darkened by news of the death of renowned skiff designer Frank Bethwaite. As a tribute, the medal race winners carried a black card in their sails in his memory and there was a moment of silence at the medal ceremony as a mark of respect. 

Frank Bethwaite (91), father of Julian and an instrumental partner in the design and continued development of the 49er, had passed away overnight on Friday. In addition to his pioneering work in skiff design, Frank Bethwaite was also a well known author, his books on high performance sailing definitive works.

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