Int. Canoe Worlds 2002
American sailor Steve Clark is the new IC World Champion. Held every three years, the championship took place at Bristol YC, Rhode Island, USA on August 25-30. The seven race series sailed on Olympic courses took place in winds ranging between Force 2-4 and saw very close competition with much place changing and the final result in doubt until the final race. The 50 entries included visitors from Canada, Germany, Australia, Sweden and a 17-strong team from Great Britain. British sailors have won the last three world championships, so hopes were high. But it was the heavier American and Swedish teams that dominated, taking the top five places between them, with the top British sailor, Mark Goodchild finishing sixth.
Race 1 sailed in a Force 3 sea breeze gave an indication of things to come. Won by Steve Clark (USA) from Anders Peterson (Sweden), with top Brit John Ellis third. Race 2 immediately followed in an increasing breeze and was won by Chris Converse (USA) followed by Clark and Ola Barthelson (Sweden).
The second day saw a similar breeze, but this time off the land. Mark Goodchild (GBR) picked his way through the shifts to take the gun followed by Phil Robin (GBR) just ahead of Clark. The second race was won by Peterson, followed by Erich Chase (USA) and Bill Beaver (USA). At eighth, Clark recorded his worst result of the week.
Only one race was scheduled for day 3 and saw a Force 3 shifty gradient breeze off the land. Clark fought his way through to take the gun followed by Peterson and Graham Herbert (Canada). Goodchild's hopes were worsened after capsizing and having to retire after his sail was split in two by another boat — a fully extended sliding seat makes an effective cutting implement at IC speeds!
The final two races sailed on day 4 were held in a solid Force 4 gradient breeze. Clark took the first race followed by Chase and - Goodchild, with Petersson's challenge starting to slip. In the last race Petersson had to finish eight places ahead of Clark to take the championship; he got the bit between his teeth and took the lead, but was powerless to control Clarke, who climbed through the fleet to finish second and with it take the championship for the second time.
For the first time at a Worlds, racing was also organised on a separate windward-leeward course for Asymmetric Canoes with eight competitors from Britain joining recent convert from Texas, David Gilliand. The seven race series saw plenty of thrills and spills and demonstrated to other competitors that the monster 22sqm spinnakers are controllable even in a Force 4. Paul Patrick comfortably won the series with a race to spare, but did not have it all his own way with Welshman Steve Bowen winning two races and boatbuilder Rob Michael never out of the top three.