2002 World Championship Summary

McKee Brothers Report

Congratulations to Morgan Larson (10th), Adam Lowry (12th), Doogie Couvreux (Silver – 12th), Chad Freitas (Silver – 18th) & Joey Pasquali / Rory Giffen (Silver – 24th) for their spectacular performances at the 2002 49er Worlds in Kaneohe, Hawaii!!!

The 2002 49er Worlds ended Saturday in Kaneohe Hawaii. Superbly hosted by the Kaneohe Yacht Club, the weeklong event furthered the 49er Classes reputation of selecting spectacular sailing venues for their World Championships. Kaneohe Bay, located in the windward shore of Oahu, served up great sailing conditions of 12-20 knots, flat (and very warm) water, a stunning backdrop, and diabolical shifts to test the sailors.

The first three days of racing had a 10-race qualifying series with 2 fleets of 25 boats each. At the end of this the top 25 boats qualified for the gold fleet finals (with their position in the Q-series counting as one race), with the remaining boats racing in silver fleet for the final 3 days. Although the 50 boat fleet was fairly small by 49er standards, the caliber was higher than ever, with virtually every top ranked team in the world attending. 18 nations in all were represented, with this event being the first opportunity to qualify your nation for the 2004 Olympics (6 spots up for grabs at the 2002 worlds). Based on their form this year the Spanish team of Martinez/Fernandez were the team to beat, having won nearly every European regatta this season, after placing a close 2nd to the McKee brothers on Team McLube in the 2001 Worlds. Also showing strong form and rated highly were their Spanish teammates Lopez/de la Plaza (world champs in 2000), as well as the Ukranians, 3 highly regarded British teams, the Sibello brothers from Italy, and numerous other strong European teams.

In addition to these polished campaigners, several veteran 49er sailors re-emerged to shake the rust off after 1-2 years sailing big boats; with the lure ofHawaii and 49ers too much to resist. These included 3-time world champ Chris Nicholson literally straight off the boat from the Volvo Race (now sailing with Laser bronze medalist Michael Blackburn), Morgan Larson with Ed Smyth (both back into 49ers after 2+ years away), and the McKee brothers sailing Team McLube.

At the end of the qualifying series Lopez/ De La Plaza led, followed by the up-and coming Netherlanders, Draper/Hiscocks from GBR, the Ukranians, andMartinez/Fernandez. The returning veterans all managed to qualify with the Australians 9th, McLube 13th and Larson/Smyth 22nd, although none looked likely to threaten the top European crews. Also qualifying easily for gold fleet were the #1 ranked US team of Andy Mack and Adam Lowrysailing Meridien Investments (12th), and up-and-comers Tim Wadlow and Pete Spaulding (16th). The 25 gold fleet qualifiers represented 14 different nations, a testament to the depth of the fleet and health of the class.

The final series saw more great sailing conditions, with each day 1-2 knot stronger trade winds, reaching 18-22 for the final 3 races. Four or five teams still had a shot to win, but Martinez and Fernandez had been showing the speed, smarts and consistency that led them to dominate the season so far, and were the only team with all top-10 finishes. Entering the last day it was their regatta to win or lose and win it they did, in convincing fashion. In the first race of the day Draper/Hiscocks won wire-to-wire, with McLube finally getting untracked in the stronger breezes for 2nd, Mack/Lowry in with a solid 3rd, and the Spanish 4th to close in on the title, now needing only 1 more decent race to clinch. And they did more than that, whipping the fleet to score a win in Race 9, clinching the championship with a race to spare. The final race was a showdown between two GBR teams and the other Spanish for 2nd and 3rd, with rising star Chris Draper and Olympic silver medalist Simon Hiscocks capping off a great last day (1, 3, 1) to take 2nd from Paul Brotherton and Mark Asquith.

In the end it was a very impressive and deserved win for the young Spaniards. The veteran 49er teams have watched them progress from a somewhat wild, erratic pair into a consistent, smart, and solid duo, who have now upped the ante for the rest of the world in terms of technique and boatspeed. For the US team as a whole it was a reasonably good performance, with 4 teams making the gold fleet final a new high (only once previously had we had more than 2 in a final). Wadlow/Spaulding sailed a very solid series to finish 13th with a final race 3rd. Mack/Lowry had what was for them a somewhat dissapointing 18th place finish, but continued to show top-10 competetiveness in this Euro-dominated fleet. Morgan Larson and Ed Smyth sailed a very fine finals series with nearly all top-10 finishes, to move up from 22nd in qualifying to 10th overall; a great result considering their very limited practice time.

It was a truly memorable regatta for all concerned. The venue and the sailing were fantastic, and the organizers low-key positive spirit infectious. The49er Class racing format of short, high-action races close to shore in great places is now firmly established and accepted. For an Olympic class the spirit and comeraderie among the competitors is truly something special, and makes the regattas a great experience win or lose.

Charlie McKee/Team McLube

From yachtsandyachting.com

49er World Championships gets underway

More than 80 sailors from 19 countries are in Hawaii this week to take part in the 2002 49er World Championship (which is one of several qualifying events for the 2004 Olympics in Athens). Kaneohe Yacht Club is playing host for the event, with racing taking place in Kaneohe Bay, which is an excellent race area with steady trade winds and flat water, providing ideal conditions for the sailors.

The first qualifying races begin today and continue through to June 19. At this point the fleet will be divided into Silver and Gold fleets, with the top team in the Gold fleet winning the Gold Medal and title of 49er World Champion.

Among the Olympic hopefuls to watch this coming week are 2000 Olympic Bronze medallists, Jonathan and Charlie McKee (USA); Silver medallist and RYA team GBR sailor Simon Hiscocks, sailing with Chris Draper, and Spain’s Santiago Lopez-Vazquez and Javier de la Plaza who finished fourth in Sydney and are currently ranked number four in the world. Nine of the ISAF’s top 10 World Ranking 49er teams are competing in Hawaii, including top-ranked Rodion Luca and Georgiy Leonchuk (Ukraine), World number 2, Pawel Kacprowski and Pawel Kuzmicki (Poland), and number 3-ranked Iker Martinez and Xabier Fernandez (Spain).

There will be a strong push from all of the RYA team GBR 49er sailors to medal at this World Championship. Paul Brotherton, sailing with relatively new crew Mark Asquith, is currently lying 4th in the ISAF World Rankings, Draper and Hiscocks are currently 8th in the World Rankings and Alister Richardson and Peter Greenhalgh are currently placed tenth in the World, all of the teams will be hoping to improve on their World Ranking and their results from the World Championship last year. Relative newcomers to the 49er fleet, Stevie Morrison and Ben Rhodes, will be looking to make their mark in this highly competitive class as will Andy Rice and Harvey Hillary.

The 40-plus sailing teams here for the 2002 Worlds come from Australia, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, Ukraine and the United States. Just getting here was a major undertaking for the sailors who had to coordinate visas, shipping, travel and lodging arrangements.

Day 1

After four races RYA team GBR sailors Alister Richardson/Peter Greenhalgh (Hampshire) are currently lying in second place overall at the 49er World Championships, Hawaii. The pair sailed well in the 49 boat fleet to post four results inside the top six, and place themselves five points behind the World number one pairing of Rodion Luca/George Leonchuk of the Ukraine.

Three other British pairings make up the top ten. RYA team GBR sailors Paul Brotherton/Mark Asquith (Hampshire) are currently lying in fifth place, posting three results inside the top ten, Andy Rice/Harvey Hillary (Hampshire) are eighth overall and Chris Draper sailing with Olympic Silver Medallist, Simon Hiscocks (Hampshire), are tenth.

The flat water of Kaneohe Bay combined with 12 to 18 knot trade winds made for fast sailing, though shifty conditions proved challenging. More of the same can be expected in the forthcoming days.

Qualifying races continue through to Wednesday, after which the fleet will be divided into the Gold and Silver fleets for three days of final races. The top six countries to finish in the Gold Fleet will qualify for berths in the 2004 Olympics.

Results after 4 races:

Pos Helm Crew Nat R1 R2 R3 R4 Pts
1 Rodion Luca George Leonchuk UKR 7 2 3 1 13
2 Alister Richardson Peter Greenhalgh GBR 6 3 4 5 18
3 Pieter Lantermans Pim Nieuwenhuis NED 8 6 3 2 19

Day 2

Controversy surrounded day two of the 49er World Championships in Hawaii. On the first day of racing the Norwegian team of Christoffer Sundby and Bovim Frode raced without their lead corrector weights for the first four races of the crucial qualifying series. When they came ashore at the end of a perfect day’s racing in Kaneohe Bay, they had completed a solid day of results, finishing fourth in their group, but then the measurer discovered that they had failed to attach 5 kg of corrector weights. The jury decided that a 6-point penalty across all four races would suffice as a punishment and they were effectively let of the hook.

The lenient decision caused outrage amongst the 49er sailors who have spent a lot of money to come to compete in the most important regatta of their season. Few doubt that Sundby failed to attach the lead to his transom bar through anything more than forgetfulness, but it is nevertheless viewed as a major error.

However, the competitors were allowed to air their views about the decision in an open forum and the hearing was re-opened following a sailor petition, the outcome being that Sundby was disqualified from all four of yesterday’s races. He will now drop dramatically from 3rd overall after racing today, to a position where he may struggle to qualify for the Gold fleet.

Both fleets completed three races on day two in a very shifty 12-16 knot breeze. The tactical specialists came out on top today, Chris Draper (GBR), Paul Brotherton (GBR), Chris Nicholson (USA) and Michael Hestbaek (DEN), all showing superior tactical acumen.

Brotherton commented, “It is going to be a long and difficult regatta, and it is still of prime importance to stay relaxed and focused.” Brotherton proved just how hard it would be after he was disqualified from race seven, for infringing American sailor Andy Mack at a leeward mark.

Chris Draper, sailing with Simon Hiscocks, seemed pleased with his performance today commenting, “we think we sailed well today, but on this course it is easy for the tables to turn.”

Sydney Olympians Santiago Lopez-Vazquez/Javier de la Plaza (ESP) were also disqualified today for hitting the windward mark and another boat, then only doing one of their 360-degree penalty turns. This knocks them down the fleet a few places.

“With the Spanish teams of Lopez-Vazquez/de la Plaza and Iker Martinez/Xabier Fernandez both dominating the spring European regattas, the fleet expected more of the same here, however they are struggling to perform to their usual level. The increased pressure of the Worlds is forcing them into mistakes and it will be interesting to see if they manage to regain their focus as the regatta progresses.” Commented RYA Olympic Manger Stephen Park.

Due to a late night in the protest room there are currently no results available, results and news from day three will be posted as soon as possible tomorrow morning.

Day 3

Three races were sailed in each fleet on the third day of qualifying races at the 49er World Championships, Hawaii, in perfect 49er sailing conditions, flat waters and a steady breeze.

The day got off to an interesting start, when, after a series of 18 – 20 minute races in the past few days, the race committee began to receive criticism from competitors, as there is a 30-minute target time. The race committee reacted accordingly and set a longer course and signalled to the sailors to complete three laps. By the time the lead boat completed the course, 47 minutes 58 seconds had elapsed, which, with a time limit of 45 minutes, resulted in the race being abandoned. Following a second jury hearing in as many days involving the entire fleet, the request for redress to re-instate this race was dismissed and the fleet was sent to sail another race.

RYA team GBR sailors Chris Draper/Simon Hiscocks had a good day, winning two out of three races to see them move up into third place overall and showing good pace and potential for the finals.

Draper commented on the days racing, “we were frustrated by the 3rd race today when we finished 5th as we felt we should have been 3rd, but the two bullets were very pleasing indeed.”

There are two other British teams in the top ten, Paul Brotherton/Mark Asquith are currently lying in seventh place, posting six results inside the top five and Alister Richardson/Peter Greenhalgh are in tenth place, but with only six points separating first and fifth place and ten races left to sail anything could happen.

The competitors have now completed ten races allowing them to discard their two worst results. 25 boats from 14 countries will commence through to the Gold fleet finals, sailing 10 races through until Saturday, the rest of the competitors will sail in the Silver fleet.

There has been an element of difficulty with the publishing of the race results as the results process was held up yesterday by a number of redress hearings for boats that were accused of starting prematurely (OCS), most of which were upheld due to improper race management on the start boat.

Day 4

Four races were sailed for both the Gold and Silver fleets on the first day of Finals at the 49er Word Championships in Hawaii. Sailing conditions started off overcast with intermittent showers, but by the afternoon, the 15 to 18-knot easterly trade winds and sunshine enjoyed the previous day had returned. Conditions were still shifty and there was a huge amount of place changing from the start line to the finish.

The race committee are getting the racing in, but nobody would suggest this is World Class Race Management – today the start lines for two of the starts had in excess of 30 degrees of port bias, resulting in plenty of port tack boats at start time and a few resulting in clashes.

The British sailors started well with Alister Richardson/Peter Greenhalgh scoring a first and a second place before the Gold fleet took a break for lunch and the Silver fleet took to the course.

Richardson commented, “we managed to get off the start line well at the port end and once we tacked we managed to hold a line of breeze all the way to the finish.”

The afternoon session got off to a good start with Chris Draper/Simon Hiscocks leading the race until the finish line when the Spanish pairing of Santiago Lopez-Vazquez/ Javier De La Plaza benefited from a 25-degree shift in the final yards and in the opinion of the race officer finished just in front of Draper.

“It was not a bad day, but we are a bit disappointed with the 15th place in the final race. I would have been happier with another top 10 in today’s conditions,” said Draper.

Iker Martinez and Xabi Fernandez of Spain are leading the Gold Fleet at the end of the first three races in the Final Series with a score of 24 points. Richardson/Greenhalgh have moved up into second place overall, six points behind the Spanish and one point in front of Pietro and Gianfranco Sibello (Italy) in third place.

Draper/Hiscocks are lying in fifth place overall on thirty-five points with fellow RYA team GBR sailors, Paul Brotherton/Mark Asquith in ninth place on fifty-seven points. Andy Rice/Harvey Hillary are in thirteenth place.

The sailors carried forward their qualification place as a non-discardable result. It is hoped that 10 races will be sailed in the Final Series with 2 discards coming into play after nine races, with Friday and Saturday both see three races. The top six countries to finish in the Gold fleet will gain automatic berths for the 2004 Games. But with six more races to be sailed over the next two days, it is anyone’s guess who will be the 2002 49er World Champion.

Day 5

The penultimate day of the 49er World Championships, Kaneohe, Hawaii, saw similar weather conditions that were experienced the previous day, 14-17 knots of wind from the east and shifty, causing dramatic place changing on the race course.

The Spanish teams of Iker Martinez/Xabi Fernandez and Santiago Lopez-Vazquez/Javier De la Plaza are shaping up to be fighting it out for the World title, as it was in Lake Garda, Italy, at last years Worlds. Martinez/Fernandez held their first place lead after the second day of 49er World Finals. They finished today with a total score of 27 after one discard. Team mates Lopez-Vazquez/De la Plaza moved up from fourth to second place with a score of 37.

Putting the Spaniards under pressure is team GBR sailors Paul Brotherton, sailing with Mark Asquith, who had the fleets best day today and was unlucky not to win two of the three races sailed. Brotherton/Asquith jumped from ninth to third place, and are currently on 41 points.

Brotherton commented, “we managed to play the risk – gain game better than most today, and when we did end up lined up against the opposition, our boat speed always seemed to pull us out on top.”

“Martinez managed to hold it all together and even managed to pull back what looked like a high teens score at mark one in the last race of the day to finish 7th. Paul and Mark, who are determined to get a top three finish at this regatta, were certainly in a class of their own today after what can only be described as a fairly average previous day.” Commented RYA Olympic Manager, Stephen Park, who went on to say, “Tomorrow is the final day with three races remaining to determine the 2002 World Champion, and as always seems to be the way in the 49er class, it looks like it will go to the wire.”

Winds for tomorrow’s final day of racing are forecasted to gust up to 25 knots, which could result in the cancellation of one or more of tomorrow’s last three races. According to ISAF rules, races may not be held when wind gusts exceed 25 knots for more than 30 seconds, or if gusts exceed 30 knots for any duration.

The top six countries to finish after the Final Series will gain automatic berths for the 2004 Games.

Day 6

The 2002 49er World Championships have ended in Kaneohe, Hawaii, with fantastic results for team GBR.

The final day was sailed in perfect conditions with 17-22 knots and three very close races. It nearly went all the way-down to the last race, but in the end Iker Martinez and Xabi Fernandez of Spain took the World Title with a race to spare, but the fight was still on for the Silver and Bronze medal positions.

After the first two races of the final day, RYA team GBR sailors Chris Draper/Simon Hiscocks were one point ahead of team mates Paul Brotherton/Mark Asquith.

In the final race, it was the Irish who led at mark one with Draper in second place and Brotherton third, but Draper was determined and soon sailed past the Irish and away from the fleet. This bullet in the final race gave him the Silver medal with a 5 point margin.

Draper commented, “I am delighted that we have managed to progress so quickly having only been sailing together for 6 weeks. Our goal was top 15 and we have obviously blown that away, it feels fantastic!”

Brotherton knew he just needed to stay ahead of Santiago Lopez-Vasquez/Javier De La Plaza of Spain in order to take the Bronze medal. Despite having to do a penalty turn shortly after the start for a foul when he attempted a port tack start and misjudged it, Lopez was chasing hard, making places on every leg. Brotherton ended up losing places just by attempting to cover Lopez in the shifty conditions, but did enough to finish 5th and take the Bronze medal.

Brotherton said “I am delighted that it all came together in the end. We achieved and exceeded all our outcome and process goals. I was impressed with my crew Mark’s performance this week, who after only a short time in the boat with me delivered well when it counted.”

Alister Richardson/Peter Greenhalgh finished in seventh place overall, making it three British teams in the top ten. Andy Rice/Harvey Hillary finished 17th overall.

As well as Spain and Great Britain, other competitors qualifying their countries for the 2004 Olympics were; ISAF top world ranked Rodion Luka and George Leonchuk (Ukraine); Pietro and Gianfranco Sibello (Italy); Michael Hestbaek and Rasmus Van Hansen (Denmark); and Pieter Lantermans and Pim Nieuwenhuis (Netherlands).

There are still two more qualifier events prior to the 2004 Games: the 2003 World Championship and the 2004 event.