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Hansa World Championship at Medemblik, Holland - Team GB report

by David Durston 25 Jun 2016 18:47 BST 3-9 June 2016

Team GB were well represented across all classes at the recent Hansa World Championships in Medemblik, the Netherlands, making up 19 of the total 83 entries. The Championships were seen as the most successful yet with teams travelling from 16 countries, including Brazil, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and the USA. The standard of sailing was high in all the classes, but the short chop made conditions hard for the small boats. Usually Medemblik has a prevailing offshore breeze which does not provide such big chop, but the racing days for this event delivered a Northerly wind, allowing the chop to build down the large 1100sq km Ijsselmeer.

The smallest of the Hansa boats, the 2.3, found the conditions particularly tough; there were 9 entries in this class, with GB represented by Lindsay Burns. The 303 single person, and 2 person events had 20 and 25 entries respectively; GB had 4 representatives in the single-handed class, and 2 in the 2 person event. The largest fleet at the event was the increasingly popular Liberty, with 31 entries. The Liberty is a single-handed boat that enables people with even the most severe disabilities to compete on level terms with the able bodied through the use of assistive controls which can manage the jib, mainsail, and steering if necessary. The fleet included a full range of entrants including the able bodied through to those using full servo assist controlled by moving their chins; both were represented in the top 4 results. Before the start of the event it was being tested and considered as a possible boat to be used in future Paralympics. The final boat at the event was the current 2 person Paralympic boat, the SKUD 18. GB was represented in this class by Nikki Birrel and Alex Rickham, who picked up bronze in the 2012 games, and who will be aiming for another great result in Rio later this year.

Day 1 saw quite choppy conditions. The morning's races were for the single-handed fleets starting with the 2.3's, the Liberty's, and the 303 classes. This did cause some confusion because the Liberty's were supposed to sail last, and being a faster boat, they did have to navigate around the 303 fleet on the first downwind leg, and the second upwind. The 2.3s and 303s were sailing an outer trapezoid course with a gate for the leeward mark, whilst the Liberty's had the inner trapezoid course, also with a leeward gate. Lindsay Burns had a fantastic first race, achieving 2nd place in the 2.3 class; as did James Woosnam in the 303 fleet with a 3rd place. In the Liberty fleet the first 2 races were dominated by New Zealand, Netherlands, and Malaysia, but Tessa Watkiss and David Durston managed to gain one 4th place each. For the 2 person fleets the wind and chop built in the afternoon. Using an older boat because their boats of choice were en route, Alex and Nikki were disappointed to finish 3rd and 2nd, losing out to the Polish and Dutch pairs.

On day 2 the morning session was for the 2 person boats. The 303 fleet was dominated by the Swiss team of Maurer and Hiller, taking 2 firsts in races 3 and 4. Hugh Lansdown from Tideway SC was sailing in both the 2 person class with Glynis Dawes, and the single person 303 event; but they struggled to be competitive in these alien choppy waters. Alex and Nikki achieved a 1st on day 2, putting them up to 2nd behind the Poles. Again the wind and chop built for the afternoon racing, with some competitors deciding to stay ashore. Hugh was glad of the RIB support which had been provided with help from the RYA, the RAF, and some fantastic volunteers from Frensham Pond and Rutland sailing clubs; taking Glynis back to shore before he competed again in the afternoon. His afternoon performance was spectacular, beating the dominant Aussie, Christopher Symonds, to first place in race3, and picking up a 3rd in race 4. In the Liberty fleet the able bodied New Zealander, Sarah Dunckley, showed her class in these conditions, achieving 2 firsts.

Day 3 conditions were lighter, and less choppy. Paul Phillips and David Durston both picked up a 2nd places in the Liberty fleet, helping them to advance up the leader board, although equipment failure plagued race 6 as it had in race 4, so these would have to be his discards if he would come anywhere in the event. Lindsay Burns continued to get steady 3rd and 4th places in the 2.3 class which was being dominated by the Malaysian, Al Mastakim Matrin, with 6 firsts after day 3. Alex and Nikki picked up another 1st place in the first of SKUDs afternoon races, but unfortunately a costly 3rd in the 2nd race; losing out again to the Dutch.

On day 4, the conditions deteriorated again with bigger chop, and winds up to 20 knots. The GB Paralympians handled this with ease, gaining 2 first places, and setting up a great head to head for the final day between them and the Poles. In the 303 2 person class, neither of our teams had managed a top 10 position, but the stronger conditions suited Chris Atkins and Peter Lawrence in race 8, and they came close with a 12th place. The chop proved too much for Lindsay in her 2.3 today, and she unfortunately had to retire after race 7, and was taken ashore. In the 303 singles, both James Woosnam and Hugh Lansdown both helped their positions, achieving a 3rd and a 4th place respectively. This set up an interesting battle for 7th and 8th between the two Brits. Similarly, Paul Phillips had improved his position with a 3rd and 4th place on the day, putting him on equal points with David Durston in the Liberty fleet, five points behind Vera Voorbach in 4th place overall.

The final day started with the single handers. Lindsay still felt unwell and couldn't compete in the 2.3 class, where Matrin completed his run of 10 first places to take the title with ease. Similarly, Symonds from Australia took the title with 8 1sts, discarding his 2nd and OCS. The battle for 7th and 8th overall between Woosnam and Lansdown was won by Woosnam; holding his head to achieve another fantastic 3rd and 7th place. In the Liberty fleet, Paul Phillips had 2 good results to finish the event in 5th place, just unable to catch Vera who stayed in 4th. Sarah Dunckley maintained the top spot, dropping only 2 points over the 8 qualifying races. In the afternoon, the GB team had a disappointing first race, finishing 3rd. This meant that realistically the title was out of reach, however, they finished strongly with a first in the last race. In the 303 2 person fleet, the Swiss team of Maurer and Hiller managed to hold off the Australian pair to win by 2 points overall despite a strong finish by the Aussies on the last day.

If you are interested in racing any of the Hansa boats, whether disabled or not, please visit our web site: www.hansaclass.org.uk for more information. We have events up and down the UK, and we will also be creating a blue fleet to help novices to get into racing for fun.

2016hansaworlds.com

Team GB Liberty fleet results:

Paul Phillips - 5th
David Durston - 7th
Pat Crowley - 9th
Tessa Watkiss - 10th
Monique Foster - 16th
Chris Emmet - 17th
Simon Harle - 26th
Chris Molesworth - 29th
Tom Harper - 31st

Team GB 303 one person fleet results:

James Woosnam - 6th
Hugh Lansdown - 8th
Alison Grant - 20th
Kate Hedley - 17th

Team GB 303 two person fleet results:

Chris Atkins & Peter Lawrence - 18th
Hugh Lansdown & Glynis Dawes - 20th

Team GB 2.3 fleet results:

Lindsay Burns - 5th

Team GB SKUD 18 fleet results:

Nikki Birrel & Alex Rickham - 2nd
Christine Spray & Neville Rose - 7th
Richard Johnson & Ben Lewis - 6th