The podium may have looked settled even if the positions had not been agreed with 3 races to go. Belfast Lough offered a minefield today for the competitors to make their way through in light variable wind, and unfortunately the young Americans were the first to falter.
Race 1 (13) saw Glenn Ashby and Brett Goodall power away from the pin end of the line while the committee boat side had little breeze. Those that tacked off to clear air or try the right hand side of the course got left behind and this included USA team Taylor Reiss and Matthew Whitehead. Girvan Bontemps and Benjamin Amiot rounded the windward mark in the top 5 while Gunnar Larsen and Ferdinand van West got caught up in the traffic behind.
Ashby/Goodall went on to secure the first of three bullets for the final day. Who know’s what their overall position might have been without the hull damage on Day 3. Bontemps/ Amiot closed the gap on Larsen/ van West but Reiss/ Whitehead were now looking at third place.
Race 2 (14) saw Bontemps/ Amiot again get in front of Larsen/ van West until the last downward leg but Gunnar somehow got in front before the finish.
In the final race (15), a shift at the start and light winds on the left hand course stranded half of the fleet. Simon (Nobby) Northrop/Josh O’Brien and Grant Piggot/Simon Farren restored a bit of pride for GBR leading into the windward mark. Larsen/ van West emerged from the middle of the fleet and worked their way into 2nd place behind Ashby/Goodall with Bontemps/ Amiot back in the fleet with Reiss/ Whitehead.
After 14 years of competing in F18s, Gunnar Larsen was finally World Champion with Ferdinand van West.
At the prize giving, Gunnar thanked the sponsors North Down Tourism and Northern Ireland Tourist Board for a great event. He also congratulated Event Chairman David Taylor and Race Officer Bill O’Hara and all 160 volunteers. This was the first time all 15 races were sailed in the World Championship with great racing, weather and race management, the hospitality was second to none and the welcome from Northern Ireland surpassed previous World Championships. It may be a long time before Ballyholme YC see another F18 World Championship but he recommended any class to come here and enjoy the craic.
1. Gunnar Larsen and Ferdinand van West NED
2. Girvan Bontemps and Benjamin Amiot FRA
3. Taylor Reiss and Matthew Whitehead USA (1st Junior)
4. Morgan La Graviere and Armaud Jarlegan FRA
5. Tim Mourniac and Jean Christophe Mourniac FRA
6. Lois Berrehar and Hugo el Pomellac FRA (2nd Junior)
9. Robert Solune and Riwan Perron FRA (3rd Junior)
10. Helge and Christian Sach GER (1st Master)
20. William Sunnucks and Freddie White GBR (2nd Master)
21. Grant Piggott and Simon Farren GBR (3rd Master)
22. Sven Lindstadt and Marne Odefey GER (1st Mixed)
Full results at http://2014.f18worlds.com/results-practice-race.html