All eyes will look to Porto, Portugal come summer’s end as the 2017 49er and FX World Championship will run from August 28th to September 2nd. The 49er class return to Porto only 2 years following a very successful 2015 European Championship to get more of the amazing conditions and hospitality! The racing was pretty epic, with huge and long ocean swells challenging crews through a variety of wind speeds.
For sailing fans, this is a chance to check the Worlds Top sailors in top conditions during a spectacular vacation. The tri-cities of Porto, Porto Gaia, and Matoshinhos, make up one contiguous metropolis, combining historic scenes up the banks of the river Duoro with wonderful Atlantic beachfront. Visitors can expect to visit a modern city with historic charm, and world class Port wineries. Come spend your days watching America’s Cup stars of present and future from our spectator boats and then your nights tasting Port wines from the wineries they are born in. For those with a bit more time, combine your Worlds trip with a week long cruise up the river to check out the vineyards where the port grades originate.
The racing itself will be intense. On the 49er side, winning world championships has proven to be a slam dunk method to get into the elite global racing teams. The top sailors at 49er Worlds from every quadrenium have gone on to lead either AC or Volvo Ocean race teams, and every quad that team has changed. Leading to Sydney 2000, Chris Nicholson won three World Championships and is now a top Volvo Ocean Race Helmsman. Winning 2 World Championships prior to Athens Gold, and a 3rd worlds in 2010 were Iker Martinez and Xabi Fernandez. Since then both have lead Volvo Ocean Race teams. Chris Draper won only a single worlds in the Beijing Quad but also took 3 European Championships and is now a 2 time America’s Cup Helmsman/Tactician. Nathan Outteridge and Ian Jensen won 3 worlds leading up to London and now helms his second America’s Cup team. Pete Burling and Blair Tuke won 4 Worlds leading up to Rio and are now key parts of the Team New Zealand America’s Cup program.
History has shown that performances at 49er World Championships are the pinnacle of talent driven sailing, and likely result in great sailing careers. History has also shown that every quad a new team takes over the mantle as crews have been unable to maintain their 49er dominance while working elsewhere. At what will surely be a fleet of over 100 49er teams, they will all be motivated to get to the top and see their sailing dreams continue for a lifetime!
With the FX fleet we have considerably less history to work with, and traditionally far fewer professional avenues to head toward. However, as the FX is a young class, we have almost complete return of the top teams, along with numerous defections from the top of other Olympic fleets to the fun loving FX sailing. With the Volvo Ocean Race leading the professional circuits in terms of creating avenues for women’s professional sailing, it will only be a matter of time before we see the top FX sailors being recruited to the pro ranks.
What’s at stake for the FX fleet, however, is a chance for the first team to win 2 World Championship titles. So far there have been 4 winners, Maloney/Meech (NZL), Grael/Kunze (BRA), Conti/Clapcich (ITA), and Echegoyen/Betanzos (ESP). Additionally there have been three European Championship winners with Nielsen/Olsen (DEN) taking 2, Conti/Clapcich (ITA) taking 1, and Hansen/Iversen (DEN) taking one. Of all these champions, only the Italians are retiring, although the Spanish have not yet committed either way. With loads of young talent and the 2016 Gold medalist from the 470, Hannah Mills, transferring over to fX, it’s going to be super competitive. All of the medalists and the 4th place finishers were previous major championship winners, so we can be sure all the teams will be gunning for top spot!
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For those that didn’t catch the action the first time around, check out the final day for the 49er!
The regatta website is https://49er.org/event/2017-world-championship-in-porto/