105 Formula 18 catamarans from 20 nations gathered on Lake Balaton for the 2011 World Championships from July 1st to July 8th. Two female teams and 19 mixed teams were amongst the 105 boats. Two Irish entries consisted of two Hobie Wildcats, skippered by Wyatt Orsmond and Dermot McHugh both of Blessington Sailing Club. Hugh Byrne, also of Blessington SC crewed on Dermots Wildcat and Astrid Comerford of Galway Bay SC crewed on Wyatts Wildcat.
Official measuring took place over three days with boats, helm and crew all put on weighing scales and exactly noted on the measuring certificate.
A practice race for all boats took place on Sunday 3rd July. The race committee had set a trapezoid course with two inner and two outer loops. The race had to be restarted due to a general recall as too many boats crossed the line too early.
During the practice race Dermot & Hugh’s kite halyard got stuck on top of their mast and they had to capsize the boat to release the halyard. Wyatt had an excellent start and made good speed up to the top mark but on the final downwind leg had to avoid a Dutch catamaran resulting in a nose dive capsize.
The opening ceremony was held Sunday evening in the town centre of Balatonfured.
Each boat was given a coloured ribbon to attach to their top batten. Green and yellow boats raced together and blue and red raced in the other group.
Racing on Monday was delayed until 12noon due to over 40 knots of winds on the lake.
By 1pm the wind had dropped to about 18 knots and racing started. The wind dropped to 10 knots in the second race and we had light winds in races three and four. Big wind shifts made racing tricky adding to the constant change in wind power too.
The AP flag was up on Tuesday morning due to lack of wind. Our green/yellow fleet completed one race by 2pm while the race for the blue/red fleet was abundant due to severe wind shifts and racing conditions were not considered as fair.
The sun finally came out on Wednesday for another day of light winds. The race officer started the day with re-racing the cancelled race for the blue/red fleet from the previous day. The green/yellow fleet completed their sixth race and afterward the blue/red fleet also managed to sail their sixth race. No more races were sailed due to the high number of protest hearings that the race committee had to deal with on shore.
Thursday: no wind, no racing. The Beach master insisted to keep all teams on site in case the wind would pick up.
After the first six races were sailed the top 50 boats got into the gold fleet with the remaining 50 into the silver fleet.
9.00 am Friday the AP flag was lowered and all teams put on their wet gear and racing for the gold fleet started at 11am. It proved to be the best day of the week with a steady wind blowing Beaufort force 4 gusting 5. The F18 catamarans were now flying over the short waves, so typical for lake Balaton. The cloudy, white and warm water splashing into our faces. Both fleets completed four races with barely five minutes in between races.
Just as we finished at 3pm a storm warning was issued and the rescue boats started to tow catamarans back to the boat parks.
The closing ceremony was staged in the town centre with special prizes awarded to best female team, mixed team, juniors and seniors. The top three finishing boats in the silver fleet received prizes and the top ten boats in the gold fleet.
Overall winner was Darren Bundock of Australia, 2nd Mischa Heemskerk of Holland and 3rd Vittoro Bissaro of Italy. The Irish boats performed very well with Dermot McHugh & Hugh in 26th place and Wyatt Orsmond & Astrid in 30th place both in the silver fleet.
A truly amazing experience to race against the best sailors in the world.
2012 Worlds will be hosted in California, USA. 2013 in Tuscany, Italy and 2014 Belfast could be the venue. The Olympic games in 2016 Rio de Janeiro will see the return of a mixed multihull. An exciting future !