by Richard Crockett
The old Bullets, Campbell Alexander and Dave Herridge, closed the regatta with a 9th in the final race to pull themselves back to 15th overall in the 72-boat fleet. A great result for a new combination who only got together for this event at the pre-worlds, and who were in the top 20 throughout the regatta.
These guys were not there just to make up the numbers as on many occasions they were in the hunt at the head of the fleet, but simply could not maintain those lofty heights.
Their 11th overall in a 58-boat pre-worlds fleet was also a great result, and one I am sure they will be exceptionally happy with. Both are fine sailors, although Alexander is passionate about his sailing, and pushes all sailors on his patch to sail as often as possible. He is also a top Laser sailor and champion of that fleet too.
Jonny Fullerton reports on the final race.
Graham Vials and Chris Turner sealed world title number four in a fitting way by doing a horizon job on the fleet on the final day. The breeze was so light they literally had to drift across the finish line in a shortened 2 lap windward/leeward course.
The 72 boat fleet headed out for one final race in hazy sunshine and a light breeze that was always predicted to drop by lunchtime. Despite a few nervous last minute shifts racing got underway shortly after 11h00 in a very light 5 – 7 knot North Westerly.
The breeze ebbed and flowed in patches providing a real test of nerves for sailors trying to decide which side of the course to choose. As is now customary, Graham Vials and Chris Turner just coasted up the middle of the course playing the shifts to perfection.
They rounded the weather mark in fourth just behind some new faces amongst the leaders. David Heron and Chris Ducker led the fleet from South African’s Campbell Alexander and Dave Herridge and Australia’s Chris Vila and Mark Holmes. The run was particularly slow and painful, but Vials and Turner just floated off into the distance pulling away from the mixed crew of Justin Waples and Jackie McKellar who were proving that their 3rd yesterday was no fluke.
As the lead bunch crossed gybes trying to sniff out the breeze the world champions elect were rounding the gate for a shortened beat for the second and last time. Whilst the British crew sailed off into the hazy sunshine places 2 to 5 were still very much up for grabs. The second run was reduced to an absolute crawl in barely 2 – 3 knots of fickle breeze.
As Vials and Turner turned for home at the gate the majority of the fleet were crawling down the run with limp spinnakers. They had to tack several times to drift across the finish line to claim their 4th world title sailing as a team in their newly named boat ‘Floaty McFloat Face’.
At one point it looked like the extended time limit of 30 minutes might cancel out a vast majority of the fleet, but in the scramble to get across the finish line Justin Waples / Jackie McKellar drifted across to finish second. Third place was decided on the line when John Hassen and Kevin Griffiths had to give way to fellow Australians Chris Vila and Mark Holmes on the line. Fifth boat to cross was another Australian crew Mike Hart and Dean McAullay.
A number of the overall regatta leaders trailed in quite deep, Andy Mckee and Richard Jones finished in 18th to claim second place overall and Richard Lovering and Matt Alvarado 12th to settle for third overall.
Australia’s Mike Hart and Dean McAullay finished 4th overall splitting up the dominance of the British fleet. South Africans Campbell Alexander and Dave Herridge finished the last race in 9th to claim 15th overall, a good effort in this highly competitive fleet. Andy and Rory Martin became top Irish boat in 17th just ahead of the New Zealand crew, Hayden Percy and Scott Pedersen.