Jerry Hill, the new Laser SB3 World Champion
Competitors took to Lake Garda this morning for races 13 and 14 of the Volvo Laser SB3 World Championships. The Gold Fleet to the Yellow/Torbole course and the Silver Fleet to the Blue/Riva course. The fleet was full of tired but determined faces as the fleets cast off the pontoons. Hill (GBR) and Burlton (GBR) both 'appeared' remarkably cool going into the final day of racing, with just four crucial points separating them, it seems appearances were deceptive.
Conditions were lively on both race courses, with a constant 18 knots of wind at the start of racing. The Gold Fleet, enthusiastic as ever to get race 13 underway were recalled having jumped the line with 15 seconds to the gun. With the well worn black flag raised, and the course re-set after a 20 degree wind shift the Gold Fleet were underway for their penultimate race of the Championship. Ian Ainslie (RSA) and crew pulled out a great lead on the fleet in the first lap of the windward leeward course and finished the race over a minute ahead of Geoff Carveth (GBR) in second place. Jerry Hill (GBR) finished eighth, Rodion Luka (RUS) finished ninth and Craig Burlton (GBR) finished tenth. It was all to play for in the final race.
Yet again the fleet were recalled on the first attempt of starting the final race of the championships and only got away after the black flag was hoisted. The glorious Garda sunshine finally ran out as the fleet beat to the windward mark, the black clouds burst and the wind dropped to 8 knots and swung back 30 degrees. The Race Officer was in a quandary; finish the race in unstable conditions or shorten the course after the first lap? As the fleet were making their final approaches to the leeward gate, the race committee raised the Tango flag and signalled to the fleet to finish. Unfortunately for many of the fleet, the flag was not recognised and only a canny few held their kites and carried on to the finish line.
Adrian Peach, Niall Myant, Nathan Batchelor and Ian Mills (GBR) won the final race of the Championship. “I think that half the fleet didn’t read their sailing instructions! I was sailing with three coaches, who had ALL read the SI’s! My tactician, Nathan used to coach the Topper fleet, and immediately recognised the “T” flag!” explained Peach. “My son has been on the phone asking me to get him a bullet; I didn’t think it was going to be possible but it was a great way to finish the event!”
32 boats in the Gold Fleet did not react to the Tango flag and continued to sail the course leaving them outside the 15 minute time limit for the Championship and as a result added a DNF results to their score sheet. As the fleet came ashore and realised their mistake, their faces feel and disappointment soared. A disappointing finish for many Championship campaigns.
Ben Saxton, Tim Saxton, Nicola Brook and Matt Rainback (GBR) the young crew onboard Rola-Trac were scored DNF in the final race, but in spite of this, finished the Volvo Laser SB3 World Championship in third place, a fantastic achievement considering this is the crew’s first season in the boat. Rola-Trac will be a boat to be watched in the future and we look forward to seeing them on the podium this evening.
Ian Ainslie, Roger Hudson and Adam Martin (RAS) from Proximo finished in second place. “A hatrick of second’s for me at the SB3 Worlds!” claimed Hudson. The South African’s are always a favourite at SB3 events, will their luck change in time for the UK Worlds?
After 14 races, with scores including 3, 5, 1, 4, 1, 11, 1, 1, 27, 18, 1, 2, 8, 9 Jerry Hill, Joe Llewellyn and Grant Rollerson (GBR) are World Champions in the Laser SB3 Class. Catching up with Jerry Hill after racing, he explained: “We’ve been fast all week and we’ve sailed really well together. We’ve had five first and lots of other top five results. Our problem at previous World Championships has been carrying 'big results'. I have to admit, I was in pieces this morning and I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to hold it together, I really didn’t think I could cope. But we sailed really well today, we didn’t have a great start to the first race today, we found ourselves quite deep, but we pulled back places and managed to get in front of Craig [Burlton]. Going into the last race we had 6 points on Craig [Burlton] and 8 points on Ian [Ainslie]. We sailed really well up wind and stayed with Ian [Ainslie] and Craig [Burlton]. At the leeward gate we saw the 'T' flag, but also saw that nobody was going to the finish, so we headed up wind and tried to find the Sailing Instructions...they were soggy, but when we saw some of the back markers of the fleet sailing for the finish, we hoisted the chute. Our World Championship title rested on this decision. I am ecstatic that we were right and I am looking forward to celebrating tonight!”
The Silver Fleet is won by Vincenzo Graciotti who racked up an impressive 6 first places in the finals.
With 14 races completed and a great time had by all, the 2010 Volvo Laser SB3 World Championships concludes this evening with the prize giving ceremony at the Circolo Vela Torbole.
In 2011 the Laser SB3 World Championships will be hosted by the Royal Torbay Yacht Club, Torquay, UK from Monday 16th – Friday 20th May.
Full results here