Contender Worlds at Kingston, Ontario, Canada Overall
by Chris Mitchell on 23 Aug 2001
4-11th August 2001
The 2001 world championship for the Contender Class was held at the Olympic Centre in Kingston Ontario. There were 31 entries from the USA, Canada, Italy, Britain Germany and Australia, including past winner Andrea Bonezzi and hot tip Arthur Brett from Australia. Kingston is famed for its reliable thermal breeze and so the competitors were looking forward to a good weeks racing, with 9 races spread over 5 days. The air temperature on shore ranged from 30-36 degrees C with water temperatures of 22-24 degrees C, and wind usually around 15-20 knots. Race management was excellent with square lines, long true beats, and very audible countdowns to the signals.
Brett (AUS) and Bonezzi (ITA) served notice in the practice race, match racing up the final beat, to finish 1, 2, with the rest of the fleet trailing in their wake. Serious racing got underway the following day, with three back to back races resulting in about 7 hours on the water and a few cases of sunburn. Race 1 started in 10 knots of wind with a tangle at the pin end of the line. Bonezzi limped off the line in a poor position as Arthur Brett managed a port tack start. The left side of the first beat paid; the positions at the first mark were Brett, Giovanni Bonzio (ITA), Bonezzi and Nigel Walbank (GBR). During the race the wind slowly built, and at the finish, after some more match-racing between Brett and Bonezzi, the order was Brett, Bonezzi, Bonzio and Walbank, with "contender legend" Keith Paul in 5th. By the start of race 2 the wind was up to about 12-15 knots with a lumpy sea. Bonezzi led from start to finish with a close tussle behind between Brett and Walbank for second place with Walbank passing Brett on the final upwind leg. Lars Schroeder (DEN) was fourth with ICA chairman Chris Mitchell (GBR) fifth. The wind had increased to 15-20 knots for the start of race 3 with some remarkably big waves. Walbank was OCS but returned and restarted. After lots of capsizes on the first leg, the order at the first mark was Brett, Paul, Soren Andreasen (DEN) and Bonzio. After the two reaches Bonezzi had climbed to 2nd. Walbank was fighting his way back through the fleet, but fell in at the gybe mark, delaying his progress. Bonezzi passed Brett on the windward leg, but then turned his boat over to remove some seaweed which was sadly, nowhere to be seen by the time the boat was on its side. By the finish the order was Brett, Bonezzi, Andreasen, with Walbank sneaking past Bonzio on the final leg to grab 4th.
Day 2 saw 2 more races, initially in much quieter conditions than the previous afternoon. Race 4 started in a gentle breeze, which barely allowed trapezing. The pin end and the left side of the beat paid, with anyone going up the middle or to the right well down. Christian Brandt (GER) led the fleet round the top mark. Brandt continued to lead the fleet all the way round, but with a diminishing lead as the wind began to build. Brett led Bonezzi over the line for 2nd and 3rd places, followed by Schroeder. The start of race 5 saw the fleet heading left off the line in a steady 15-knot breeze, which continued to increase throughout the race. Brett was OCS and had to return. First to the windward mark was Paul, followed by Walbank and Mitchell. Down the two reaches the leading group closed up with the two Danish boats sailing particularly fast. At the end of the next round Mitchell just squeezed into the lead followed by Walbank, but with the chasing group very close behind. At the lee mark, Walbank, Harprecht (GER) and Schroeder were close together, until the latter got stuck with his tiller extension under his life jacket when he tacked to control the rest of the fleet, and promptly capsized. Up the final beat the leading group went left, finding them selves behind Bonzio and Mitchell who came from the right. Brett had managed to recover from his early start to cross the line first, followed by a very tight group of Bonzio, Walbank, Bonezzi and Mitchell.
Races 6 and 7 were held in very similar conditions to the previous day with medium-light wind in the first race and strong wind in the second one (20 knots). The wind was very variable on the first beat of race 6, with some sailors sitting in their boats while others were trapezing. The race was quite long so that at the finish most of the leading sailors had recovered. The finish order was Brett, Andreasen, Bonezzi, Bonzio and Walbank. The second race was windy throughout. Brett and Bonezzi began match racing before the start. The racing was very close for the first lap, but the wind then strengthened so that Bonezzi and Brett were able to stretch a considerable gap over the rest of the fleet. Schroeder lost 3rd place to Walbank by capsizing near the finish. Fifth place went to American Gil Woolley, displaying amazing upwind speed.
The last two days saw a race each day. Race 8 was the final battle for the championship between Bonezzi and Brett, with having a worst result of 3rd, but Bonezzi’s worst a 4th. In the event, this race determined the first 4 places overall. The wind again was around 15 knots, and Andrea Bonezzi motored off into a huge lead. Bret worked his way up to second place with Walbank some way behind. Second place was enough for Brett to win overall, and so Bonezzi was forced to wait and attempt to sail him down to at least third place. Unfortunately for Bonezzi, he could not slow Brett sufficiently to push him behind Walbank, and so at the finish the order of Bonezzi, Brett, Walbank and Schroeder gave Brett the title.
Race 9 was in the lightest breeze, a bit more westerly than previously. Bonzio and Mitchell led up the first beat until the wind began to swing, bring Jo Rosler (GER) to the fore. Down the first reach the fleet found it very hard to pick up the gybe mark, obscured against the background of an island, and eventually had to fetch towards it having all sailed too low. By the last leg, Bonzio was in the lead followed by Andreasen, and five boats behind scrapping for third. By the finish it was Bonzio and Andreasen, followed by Paul, Brandt and Harprecht.
Arthur Brett had trained hard for the event, and displayed good speed, boat handling and tactics in all conditions. Bonezzi and Walbank pushed him hard all the way, but in the end Brett was a worthy winner. He now defends his title at his home club, Blackrock Yacht Club, on Port Philip Bay, in January 2002. This event, despite a small fleet, was a great success, with excellent sailing conditions – the best winds at a Contender World Championship for quite a few years - and flawless race organisation.