XVIITH Canoe Sailing World Championship
Port Phillip Bay, Victoria, Australia
A UK Report
The XVIIth International Canoe World Championships were held at McCrae Yacht Club on the western shore of Port Phillip Bay, Victoria, Australia, from 31st December 2007 to 6th January 2008. The event was held as part of the Sail Melbourne Regatta, with Regatta Manager as the principal sponsor. McCrae YC proved to be excellent hosts for this triennial Championship. There were 22 entries in the standard IC fleet, 13 in the Development Canoe (DC) fleet [Editor's note: DC was the name given to boats built to the first draft of the proposed new open rules, which were to be adopted the next year], and 3 in the Asymmetric Canoe (AC) fleet. The weather was hot, with some days up to 41ºC, making for some strong sea breezes. No rain throughout the event! It was rugged, but someone had to go!
After the measurement on 30-31 December, the invitation race and Opening Ceremony on 31st were followed by a New Year's Eve beach party with the Aussie B14 fleet and club members. 1st January was wisely kept as a lay day.
On the Wednesday 2nd January warm sunshine and 10-15 knots of SW breeze provided a sparkling opener for the three fleets. First to start were the ICs followed after 5 minutes by the DCs, both sailing the same triangle and sausage course, and then the ACs who sailed a windward/leeward course with a separate windward mark.
In the ICs Bill Beaver USA 219 just managed to cross ahead of Tim Wilson AUS 16 and Hayden Virtue AUS 20 to take first blood. Chris Maas in his beautifully built and finished radical DC USA 242 sailed away from all opposition and through the ICs to win the opening heat. John Robson GBR 283 finally shook off Tobias Kunz to win heat 1 in the ACs.
The course was swung by 10 degrees for the second heat and the wind was rising. In the strong glare and against a crowded beach the competitors found it hard to identify the marks over the 1.1 nautical mile course. As a result the ICs overstood the windward mark by a substantial amount, and in turn they misled the DCs and ACs. Once they realised their mistake they reached down in a spectacular stampede led by Virtue.
In a nail-biting finish on a shortened course due to the increasing wind Virtue scraped home ahead of Beaver. Seth Dunbar AUS 14 had relinquished a narrow lead in a fluffed tack for the finishing line and he eventually finished third.
In the DCs Steve Clark USA 239 closed to finish two minutes behind the flying Maas, and Robson continued to lead the AC fleet with Peter McLaren in second.
Day 2 was lost to the wind, which filled in to a solid 30+ knots.
Day 3, originally scheduled as a lay day, was then used to get the event back on schedule. Heats 3 & 4 were sailed back to back, with a third race after a break for lunch and re-hydration. Virtue took a firm grasp of the championship by winning the two morning races from Beaver and Johan Elfström SWE 101, who sailed a perfect port tack start to cross the fleet at the start of the second race. Colin Brown GBR 299 moved up into third place overall after the third race of the day with a beautifully controlled win over Virtue over a long course in a fading breeze.
The DC fleet saw Clark hit the front after an early retirement by Maas in the first race, but he returned in the next two races to continue his domination.
Robson scored a perfect hat-trick to maintain his 100% record in the ACs.
Overnight the wind swung to the North and this gave rise to moderate surf on the launching area - something of a daunting prospect to those sailors more used to placid water launching. However the wind had moderated and was relatively light despite the size of the swell.
Phil Robin GBR 311, in his Phil Morrison designed and Bloodaxe Boats built DC, finally managed to shake off the gremlins which had plagued him for the series and he won by over two minutes from the previously unbeatable Maas.
In the ICs Virtue won from Dunbar and Beaver, with Brown slipping to fourth overall. Robson completed another clean sweep in the ACs.
The last day of the championship dawned with a fresh 25-27 knots of wind. As a result all three fleets were kept ashore under the AP until 1700 when racing was finally abandoned. This left Hayden Virtue as the new IC World Champion, with Chris Maas winner in the DCs and John Robson taking the ACs.
Alex Kalin AUS 8 won the Junior IC World Championship from Chris Moore USA 202 and Mikey Radziejowski POL 1.
And what of the Brits overall? Colin Brown GBR 299 was the best placed IC in 4th, with 1 race win and never lower than 6th . It was very close between Colin, Seth who finished 3rd and Tim Wilson AUS 16, with Colin and Tim being separated only on the tie-break. A good effort by Colin who had gone to Australia to sail as an AC, but decided to do a last-minute back-conversion to IC mode. Colin Newman GBR 295 had a steady mid-fleet regatta to finish 10th (highest place 6th). Simon Allen took delivery of his new Tim Wilson built IC GBR 312 at McCrae YC but suffered from damage to the sliding seat and had to revert to his older GBR 278 and include a DNF is his results. He pulled up to 12th with a best place of 7th. Mike Shreeve GBR 233 and Felicity Robson GBR 256 were close a little further down, with Mike getting 15th from Felicity's 16th on the tie-break.
In the DCs Alistair Warren GBR 308 was always near the front of the fleet with a best place of 2nd and never lower than 6th to finish 4th overall. Phil Robin GBR 311 had a number of teething problems but showed that his boat is fast with 5th and 1st places in the only 2 races he finished.
John Robson GBR 283 dominated the ACs with 6 race wins out of 6, and Peter McLaren GBR 280 followed Tobias Kunz GER 73 home for 3rd place.
Based on reports by Alan Powell
A US Viewpoint
The 2008 worlds was undoubtedly the most exciting regatta that I have been to since joining the canoe class in the summer of 2003. This regatta had it all, boats, wind, waves, people, entertainment, trophies, everything. The event took on the feel of a regatta that was all about the future. The presence of the new rules boats and the excitement they brought to the class made me believe that the class is truly moving forward.
The conditions were to say the least varied. Graham Frasier at one point told me an old saying in McCrae "if you don�t like the weather wait five minutes and it will change." Well that saying could not have been more true true. We had everything, from 30 knots and flat water to 2 knots and five foot swells. The wind came from every conceivable direction at every possible speed and even a lecture from Graham Candy couldn�t make me understand what the heck was going on.
However, at the end of the day we were able to determine a winner and a champion was crowned. Hayden Virtue of Australia, showing that practice does indeed make perfect, edged out American Bill Beaver (2nd) and fellow Australian Seth Dunbar (3rd) to capture the seventeenth International Canoe World Championship. Meanwhile, in the DCs Chris Maas was dominant only finishing worse than first in two races while beating out Steve Clark (2nd) and Oliver Moore (3rd).