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International Canoe Worlds at Port Phillip Bay, Victoria

by Alan Powell on 21 Jan 2008 31 December 2007 - 6 January 2008

The XVIIth International Canoe World Championships were held at McCrae Yacht Club on the western shore of Port Phillip Bay, Victoria from 31st December until 6th January. The event was held as part of the Sail Melbourne regatta with Regatta Manager as the principal sponsor.

After the measurement invitation race and opening ceremony, followed by a New Year’s Eve beach party with the Aussie B14 fleet, Jan 1st was wisely kept as a lay day.

On the Wednesday warm sunshine and 10-15 knots of SW breeze provided a sparkling opener for the three fleets. First to start were the ICs followed after 5 minutes by the DC(development canoe) fleet and then the AC(Asymmetric kite fleet)who sailed a windward / leeward course.

In the ICs Bill Beaver USA219 just managed to cross ahead of Tim Wilson AUS16 and Hayden Virtue AUS20 to take first blood. Chris Maas in his beautifully built and finished radical DC USA242 sailed away from all opposition and through the ICs to win both opening heats. John Robson GBR283 finally shook off Tobias Kunz to win heat 1 in the ACs.

The course was swung by 10 degrees for the second heat and the wind was rising. In the strong glare and against a crowded beach the competitors found it hard to identify the marks over the 1.1 nautical mile course. As a result the ICs overstood the windward mark by a substantial amount, and in turn they misled the DCs and ACs. Once they realised their mistake they reached down in a spectacular stampede led by Virtue.

In a nail-biting finish on a shortened course due to the increasing wind Virtue scraped home ahead of Beaver. Seth Dunbar AUS14 had relinquished a narrow lead in a fluffed tack for the finishing line and he eventually finished third.

In the DCs Steve Clark USA 239 closed to finish two minutes behind the flying Maas and Robson continued to lead the AC fleet.

Day 2 was lost to the wind, which filled in to a solid 30+ knots.

Day 3, originally scheduled as a lay day, was then used to get the event back on schedule. Heats 3 & 4 were sailed back to back, with a third race after a break for lunch and re-hydration.

Virtue took a firm grasp of the championship by winning the two morning races from Beaver and Johan Elfstrom SWE 101, who sailed a perfect port tack start to cross the fleet at the start of the second race. Colin Brown GBR 299 moved up into third place overall after the third race of the day with a beautifully controlled win over Virtue over a long course in a fading breeze.

The DC fleet saw Clark hit the front after an early retirement by Maas in the first race, but he returned in the next two races to continue his domination.

Robson scored a perfect hat-trick to maintain his 100% record in the ACs.

Overnight the wind swung to the North and this gave rise to moderate surf on the launching area – something of a daunting prospect to those sailors more used to placid water launching. However the wind had moderated and was relatively light despite the size of the swell.

Phil Robin GBR 311,in his Phil Morrison designed, Bloodaxe boats built, DC finally managed to shake off the gremlins which had plagued him for the series. In the first race he completed in the DCs he won by over two minutes from the previously unbeatable Maas.

In the ICs Virtue won from Dunbar and Beaver, with Brown slipping to fourth overall. Robson completed another clean sweep in the ACs.

The last day of the championship dawned with a fresh 25-27 knots of wind. As a result all three fleets were kept ashore under the AP until 17.00 when racing was finally abandoned. This left Hayden Virtue as the new IC World Champion, with Chris Maas winner in the DCs and John Robson taking the ACs.

Alex Kalin AUS 8 won the Junior IC world championship from Chris Moore USA 202 and Mikey Radziejowski POL 1.

Overall Results:

1. Hayden Virtue AUS 20, 6pts
2. Bill Beaver USA 219, 12 pts
3. Seth Dunbar AUS 14, 17pts
4. Colin Brown GBR 299, 19pts

1 Chris Maas USA 242, 6pts
2. Steve Clark USA 239, 13pts
3. Oliver Moore USA 240, 15pts

1. John Robson GBR 263, 6pts
2. Tobias Kunz GER 73, 14pts
3. Peter McLaren GBR 280, 16pts

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