Dutch duo set perfect course to glory
Flying Dutchmen Gunnar Larsen and Ferdinand van West were crowned 2014 F18 World Champions at Ballyholme Yacht Club yesterday after five valiant days of racing.
As the ecstatic sailors flew their national flag and sprayed champagne, Larsen shouted to F18 Class President Olivier Bovyn: "It only took us 14 years, Olivier!"
It was twice as sweet for Larsen too as he sailed to victory in a Nacra Infusion, the company of which he is commercial director.
Despite a gutsy effort from Glenn Ashby and Brett Goodall, their three out of three wins in yesterday's final day could not make up the deficit they created after damaging their hull on what was suspected to be a plank of wood on Tuesday.
"We were very unlucky," said Goodall.
"Damaging the boat really did put us out of the running but we've had a really good time and we sailed well in the last few races so it hasn't all been bad.
"It's just one of those things though, there wasn't really much we could do about it.
"The weather created some tricky conditions for competitors but all 15 races were able to go ahead, an improvement on last year's F18 World Championship in Marina di Grossetto, Italy.
"Last year was a little bit of a disaster.
"They (competitors) did not get to compete in the last race because the wind just completely died so this has been very good," added F18 President Bovyn.
The self-confessed "living memory of the class", Bovyn is an expert in all things F18.
"This has been the perfect conditions for these Championships. Today has been perfect with flat seas, no rain, a little wind at about 15 or so knots," he said.
In the competition's Junior category, there were some stellar performances, with three top-10 finishes from Taylor Reiss and Matthew Whitehead, Robert Solune and Riwan Perron and Lois Berrehar and Hugo le Pomellec.
While it looked like Americans Reiss and Whitehead were in contention to become the youngest crew to win the Championship earlier in the week, they didn't feature much in yesterday's races and instead finished in a very respectable third place.
Second place went to Frenchmen Gurvan Bontemps and Benjamin Amiot.
Simon Northrop and Josh O'Brien were the best of the British, finishing in 17th place, with William Sunnucks and Freddie White in 20th and Grant Piggott and Simon Farren in 21st.
Local sailors Andrew Gallagher and Michael Gunning from Ballyholme Yacht Club topped the Irish standings, finishing in 33rd position.
However, fellow Ballyholme competitors Adrian Allen and Barry Swanston had a disappointing final day after Allen had to be escorted ashore after sustaining a slight knock to his head. The pair ended up in 35th position.
Despite Australians Ashby and Goodall finishing in a disappointing 13th position, they have enjoyed their first visit to Northern Ireland.
"It's been great, the weather has been much better than I expected and the sailing has been fantastic, it's been a really good mix of everything overall," said Goodall.
"I don't think anyone can really have any complaints about the results."