Sunday, September 16, 2012

French Victorious at Globaltech F18 Words in Long Beach, California

The French sailors, Olivier Backes and Matthieu Vandame have won the 2102 Globaltech Formula 18 World Championship at Long Beach, California.
Photo: Rich Roberts
A light southwest breeze wrecked havoc on competitors as it blew offshore from the opposite direction, leaving the fleet of 118 in both the Gold and Silver flights drifting helplessly in the event hosted by Alamitos Bay Yacht Club.
Photo: Rich Roberts
Only one race was held after 75 minutes of delays due to early starts by competitors and course changes because of the shifting three to seven knot light winds. The Dutch pair of Coen De Koning and Thijs Visser took the win ahead of Michael Easton and Tripp Burd from New England with Australia's Andrew Mcpherson and his Dutch crew, Shannen Marck in third.
Photo: Rich Roberts
Later, as the stragglers crept in from the mile-square trapezoid course, PRO Mark Townsend debated for an hour whether or not to continue. At one point he even studied smoke from the oil refinery fire west of Long Beach for clues to what the wind might do. Then at 3:30pm he called it a regatta, and Backes and Vandame's coach, Alex Udin, jumped aboard their cat to spraye the winners with a champagne shower.

"When I put up the [abandonment] flags, all the boats cheered," Townsend said later.
Photo: Rich Roberts
As far as the championship was concerned, ending two short of the 15 scheduled races made no difference. While Backes/Vandame finished 15th in today's only race, none of their challengers finished better than a sixth, not nearly enough to threaten their lead, especially with a second discard up their sleeve.

Even with the anti-climax of the final day, Backes said the victory was better than his first  F18 World Championship in France in 2010.
Photo: Rich Roberts
"The first time I won there was a big fight between three boats at the end," he said. "This one was much better."

Backes had another crew then, so this was Vandame's first F18 Worlds title. "I'm really happy," he said.

As too was Karel Begemann, crew for Oscar Zeekant on the runnerup boat from The Netherlands.
Photo: Rich Roberts
"We didn't really come here to win," Begemann said. "We just hoped to finish in the top five."

In fact, the Dutch boats seized four of the top six places overall.

For first F18 Worlds to be held in the USA, the leading American boat finished in 10th, sailed by Michael Easton and Tripp Burd of the New England Nacra Sailing Association (NENSA).

Rich Roberts

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