NACRA IS WORLD CHAMPION 2nd year in a row

NACRA PHOTO F-18 WORLDSTROPHY GIVINGFor the second year in a row the Nacra Infusion has dominated the very highly competitive F-18 class. Finishing 1st, 3rd, 5th, 10th and 12th overall.

On Friday July 17, Team Boskalis (NED), sailing a Nacra Infusion, took gold and bronze at the F18 World Championships 2009 in Knokke/Belgium. Coen de Koning (NED) prolonged his world title with his new crew Thijs Visser (NED). Their team mates Hugh Styles (GBR) and Ferdinand van West (NED) won bronze, whereas Gunnar Larsen (NED) and Stefan Dubbeldam (NED) climbed from a sixteenth to a fifth position overall. Sascha Larsen (NED) and Christa van Helden (NED) finished twelfth as best mixed duo, out of 173 F18 cats.

Last week’s weather gave the race committee and the sailors a hard time. Light and variable conditions with a strong current characterized Monday and Tuesday. The breeze picked up till force six on Wednesday and dropped to force three/four on Thursday. The forecast for Friday looked really bad, so the organization decided to have an early start (9 am) on the final day. That worked out well, as it was blowing over thirty knots in the afternoon. Due to these difficult circumstances, the six qualifying races were only completed on Thursday evening, where after the real battle for the title could finally commence. De Koning and Visser were leading after the qualification series, followed by their fellow countrymen Mischa Heemskerk and Bastiaan Tentij.

De Koning yesterday: “We were able to focus well until Thursday evening. Then we realized that I could win for the second time in row, against my own expectation.” Before the first start of the last day, the two favourite teams were already close together. De Koning: “We were just above Mischa on the line. After the gun, we were match racing each other till the finish. By doing so, we ran away from the rest of the fleet. It was fantastic. However, we missed the gate in the l ast downwind, as we were probably too busy with positions, so we lost the lead and came second.” At the second start, the Dutchmen didn’t got off the line well and finished eleventh and Heemskerk/Tentij capsized downwind by pitchpoling.

Exciting Stuff
Meanwhile, it was blowing over thirty knots with squalls coming through. De Koning: “The last race was chaos. A few boats were early over the line at the pin, which gave us bad air. Many teams were pinching, where we decided to loosen the traveller and jib. We were sailing lower, but much faster. At the last gate, we were in third or fourth position, but we capsized. We did extremely careful and we still got blown over. That really annoyed me, as we finished thirteenth.” After the concluding race, De Koning and Visser learned that their rivals Heemskerk and Tentij had a black flag. However, the Englishmen Rob Wilson and Marcus Lynch sailed strongly in the big breeze and gained a few places. After nine races, they were on equal points with De Koning/Visser, but the Dutchmen scored more bullets and won the series and therefore the F18 World Title 2009.

Youngest F18 World Champion ever
Thijs Visser (19) has become the youngest F18 World Champion ever: “It has been a special year. for me I could hardly believe there was a possibility of crewing for Coen, when he called me in October. Our characters seem to match well, which is our strength I think. Coen is also a great sailor and coach, of which I took advantage. I learned a lot from him over the past six months, which made me a better crew and we could grow as a team.”

Bronze for Styles/Van West
“It was difficult today”, said Ferdinand van West on Friday. He and his helmsman Hugh Styles climbed from an eleventh to a third position overall, by finishing 10-4-2. Van West: “On the run we had to be careful and restrain ourselves from pushing too hard, but it was awesome. Although we capsized on Wednesday, we knew our limits now. It was our best day.”

Larsen/Dubbeldam achieve their goal
Gunnar Larsen and Stefan Dubbeldam showed a final sprint by finishing 6-3-6. They climbed from a sixteenth to a fifth place overall. Dubbeldam: “We were no longer focussed on our goal of making the top six.” On Monday, the two Boskalis riders commenced the Worlds with a black flag, which resulted in a 94th position overall. The shackle of their jib broke on Wednesday, followed by a capsize in a gibe. Dubbeldam: “All we could do after that bad start, was rising on the leader board and having fun.

1. NED – De Koning/Visser, 37 points, Nacra F18 Infusion
2. GBR – Wilson/Lynch, 37 points
3. GBR – Styles/Van West, 58 points, Nacra F18 Infusion
4. AUS – Ashby/Howden, 63 points
5. NED – Larsen/Dubbeldam, 67 points, Nacra F18 Infusion
10.NED – McPherson/Dercksen, 104 points, Nacra F18 Infusion
11.GER – Sach/Sach, 104 points, Nacra F18 Infusion
12. NED – Larsen/Van Helden, 109 points, Nacra F18 Infusion