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Nacra 17, 49er and 49erFX Worlds at Clearwater, Florida - Overall

by Katy Nastro & Andy Rice 15 Feb 2016 09:33 GMT 9-14 February 2016

Thank you to the city of Clearwater Beach and all the sponsors that made this happen; SAP, Seiko, Magic Marine, DEX, Brighthouse Networks, US Ameri Bank, Clearwater Regional Chamber and many, many more.

Tamara Echegoyen and Berta Betanzos emerged from a snakes and ladders final day in Clearwater, Florida, to win the 49erFX World Championships, while Peter Burling and Blair Tuke cruised to their fourth consecutive victory in the 49er World Championships.

49erFX Women

The Spanish team of Echegoyen and Betanzos went into the final day's racing with an incredible scoreline from the previous two days of competition, having won four of the last six races and coming 2nd and 3rd in the other two. However the Spanish looked vulnerable in the flat water and lighter breezes wafting off Clearwater Beach, coming 10th and 17th and allowing the gap to the chasing teams to close to just 5 points. Meanwhile Giulia Conti and Francesca Clapcich were on a charge, the defending World Champions looking set to displace the Spanish from their perch.

There were plenty of other teams in the hunt too, and any of the top eight boats had a realistic shot at making the podium. The first goal of the day was to make sure they made the top 10 for the double-points Medal Race, and one of the high-profile crews to miss the cut were Ida Nielsen and Marie Olsen who had finished 3rd and 2nd in the previous two World Championships. Missing the top 10 by a single point was the end of their bid to win selection for Denmark at Rio 2016.

Launching off the start line of the final Gold Fleet race, the Spanish were above the Italians and Echegoyen steered fast and free to try to sail over the top of Conti, who responded by doing the same. "Unfortunately we hadn't seen how close the Americans were below us," said Conti. "It was our fault for sure, but the Americans kept on pushing high towards us and our boats came together." Paris Henken and Helena Scutt capsized, and the Italians had no choice but to take a penalty turn, from which they never recovered, finishing 18th and handing a healthy lead to the Spanish going into the Medal Race.

After a break of a couple of hours, the top 10 teams were back out for a light-airs finale to a regatta which has seen all winds and all waves states this week. Finding the pockets of breeze was the key, and early leaders were Alex Maloney and Molly Meech who threaded their way through the small gusts up the first beat to the windward mark. The top three boats did a straight set out to sea, and even when the others gybed away, the Kiwis continued on their own, but fell into a hole as the Dutch team of Annemieke Bekkering and Annette Duetz surged to the front and up into a medal position. However by the top mark it was another team, Jena Hansen and Katja Iversen who took the lead and sailed fast down towards the finish.

The final 200 metres of the race course had now turned into a windless zone as a new sea breeze was fighting to overcome the old gradient wind. It looked like the race was going to start all over again as the middle of the pack caught up to the leaders. Somehow the Danes, Hansen and Iversen, held on to win the Medal Race and secure their selection for the Olympic Games. But there was another final shuffle of the pack behind them, and Maiken and Anne-Julie Schütt crossed the line in 5th, just enough to give the Danes the silver medal by a single point from Germany's Victoria Jurczok and Anika Lorenz who took the bronze. Just a point away from the Germans were the Dutch and just another 2 points back were the 2015 World Champions, Conti and Clapcich, who were dealt a tough hand by the fickle breeze in that final race.

Such is the nature of short-course skiff racing sometimes, and there are so many good teams all operating a similar level. But this week it was the Spanish who had that little bit extra. "It will be a big celebration tonight," said Echegoyen, the London 2012 Olympic Champion in the keelboat match racing. "Today was a gift for all the hard work we have put into our campaign, and after we have celebrated we go back to work, to try to sail even faster over the next six months before Rio."

49er Men

Pete Burling and Blair Tuke wrapped up their fourth world title with a Gold Fleet race to spare, and ended up winning by a massive 41 points. While the Medal Race was a formality for the victorious Kiwis, there was a very close battle for the silver and bronze. The start was very hard fought, and the individual recall flag went up, signifying that one or more boats had started too early.

The 2008 Olympic Champion Jonas Warrer turned back to restart, but still the flag stayed up on the race committee boat. Although they didn't know it, reigning Olympic Champions Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen were the other early starters, knocking them out of the silver medal position and leaving the way clear for long-time campaigners from Austria, Niko Delle Karth and Niko Resch, to take silver after finishing second in the Medal Race. The Danes and the Poles also had a shot at the podium, but Great Britain's Dylan Fletcher and Alain Sign seized their moment to win the Medal Race and clinch the bronze medal.

For Burling and Tuke, a fourth world title is the latest milestone on an incredible journey towards Rio 2016. The last time the Kiwis lost an international 49er regatta was at London 2012 when they took the Olympic silver medal. Now with an unbroken run of 23 regatta victories, the New Zealanders have shown themselves to be almost invincible, and will go to Rio 2016 as the firmest of favourites. Burling was typically modest. "Yeah, pretty happy to get the fourth one," he said. "It was a tough start to the week but getting some early wins in qualifying made it easier for us."

Many teams did enough this week to win their national selections for the Olympic Games, but for many others the road to Rio is over. The younger crews will lick their wounds and look towards Tokyo 2020 as their next opportunity to become an Olympian. Meanwhile the racing circuit moves back towards Europe, and for the 49er and 49erFX class, the next big event on the calendar is the European Championship in Barcelona this April.

Nacra 17

The final medal race was sailed right off Pier 60 on Clearwater Beach, a pretty cool vantage point for the viewers on shore. Even though the winners were announced yesterday, the day was still filled with competitive vigour amongst the sailors who look to take the remaining podium spots.

The Unbeatable Billy Besson and Marie Riou chose to sail the final race of the series even though their point spread was enough to call it a week! Billy and Marie are definitely please with their performance and with the event as a whole. They feel the race committee, and all of the organizers were great on the support and thank them for helping put on a successful World Championship. The pair took a 2nd place finish to add to their already extremely low score. When asked how he felt about his days finish Billy replied, "It was a little bit complicated near the harbour because the wind is going to be shifty with the buildings. We finished two, which is not so bad, but when we are competing, we like to win every time." Never settling for second best apparently.

Interestingly enough, competing on just another race course away from the Nacra 17 fleet, the 49er skiffs also had their 2016 World Championship. They too had a World Champion announced. Peter Burling and Blair Tuke also took home their fourth World Championship title. Billy notes, "We were in competition to see who could get the four World titles, ha ha." Well Billy, it seems you both take home the win!

Still sitting in second, taking their first ever silver medal at a World Championships is Danish team of Allan Norregaard and Annette Viborg Andreasen. Allan gave us a quote before going out as he was all smiles and completely relieved. Today Allan and Annette found out they are the Nacra 17 duo going to represent Denmark in the Rio Olympic Games, this August. Three regattas were used in the Denmark national selections: 2015 Europeans in Barcelona, 2016 Miami World Cup, and this final 2016 World Championships.

The second boat in contention Lin Ea Cenholt Christiansen and Christian Peter Lübeck fought hard to stay near their compatriots, but after the final points/protests, they were unable to beat out Allan and Annette. "It's a big relief to be over that trial, and now we are surprisingly in such a good position, which we didn't know because we were defending our trial, it's really surprising for us that we would end up so high on the scores, so it's really just a bonus for us now to go out there and fight for a medal," said Allan. "It turned out as good as it could for us, cannot complain!"

Allan and Anette finished just two places in front of the Italian to give them just a five point lead ahead of Vittorio Bissaro and Silvia Sicouri of Italy. The strong Italian team pushed their way back on the podium managing a third place finish, bumping their overall place into third.

The Danish team of Thomas Zajac and Tanja Frank came to shore with low hanging heads. The pair competed very strongly throughout each day, and were very much looking forward to ending this 2016 World Championship with some silverware.

The final medal race took a turn for the worse for these two Austrians. The boat was focused very much on their competitors around them that they weren't focusing on the shifty conditions that only progressed as the race went on. "It was nice to see that we can fight for a medal, and looking at the 2015 Worlds, they were not like this, so that was quite great. Even with the medal race, we are proud we had come so far," Tanja admits.

This pair will be have their chance in the coming months to take on their competitors once again before the ultimate athletic event in Rio.

Jason Waterhouse and Lisa Darmanin came back from a bit of a dip in scores to steadily finish in fifth overall. The pair took a bit of a risky move going into the first upwind leg and had to fight back to keep a near top position. "We still were able to pull off a fifth off at the Worlds which is a great achievement, especially after coming off a silver in Miami, so its a great way to finish off our US tour," Jason Waterhouse feels he and Lisa will be able to keep this momentum going into the rest of their season continues. "Now, back home for a bit of rest, and then back at it training in Sydney harbour!"

The sailors all enjoyed their time in Clearwater, and with the trying and variable conditions, they all felt this venue definitely helped to showcase the extreme talent amongst the fleet.

Update from Yachting New Zealand by Jodie Bakewell-White

Peter Burling and Blair Tuke have taken the 2016 49er World Championship in impressive style securing the title defence with two races to spare.

Clearwater has thrown high winds and big waves, as well as light air days at the Olympic skiff and multihull fleets contesting their 2016 world championships, yet the phenomenal kiwi 49er pair have come out on top once again.

Not even a hand injury, suffered by Tuke early in the event, was enough to derail the pair who taped up and pushed on.

Going into today Burling and Tuke were 28 points ahead of the pack and this morning they used the day's first two gold fleet races to open enough of a points lead to secure the 2016 49er World Championship.

A massive 45 point margin was required to get into this uncommon unassailable position before sailing the last 25-boat gold fleet race and the final top ten double points medal race. They went on to place 12th in the final gold fleet race and then 3rd in the medal race and take the title by 41 points.

"We were really happy to go out there with a pretty healthy lead going into the day but still a bit of work to do," says Peter Burling. "And we're absolutely stoked to go out there and finish it off with a couple of races to spare. It's always a pretty nice way to do it."

As world sailing has moved towards adding extra weight to the last race of a fleet racing regatta, with the introduction of the medal race, Burling and Tuke defy statistics and deliver the improbable.

"It's been really challenging, a big range of conditions," adds Blair Tuke. "We've sailed in up to 20 knots with big waves, and light tricky stuff so it's been a real mix of conditions and we're happy with how we've been going across the board."

Four consecutive 49er World Championship titles is something not seen before and the achievement places Peter Burling and Blair Tuke firmly into the record books. They now draw equal to Nathan Outteridge's accomplishment of four 49er World titles (2008, 2009, 2011 and 2012).

Perhaps even more impressive is their mounting tally of consecutive regatta victories which now reaches 24 straight Olympic 49er class regatta wins including this year's 2016 New Zealand 49er National Championship and now the 2016 49er World Championship. This sort of accomplishment is particularly impressive in the sport of Olympic sailing where venue, conditions and large fleets make consistency on this level incredibly difficult to achieve.

Being able to perform and finish at the front across all conditions, superior boat handling, tactical brilliance and great teamwork are among their campaign assets which set them apart from their rivals.

Despite their incredible track record over recent years it seems it has taken a long time for New Zealand sporting fans and mainstream media to recognize quite what these two, who quietly go about their business, are achieving in the Olympic 49er class.

While prioritizing their Olympic campaign towards Rio 2016 both Burling and Tuke compete in a combination of sailing disciplines which seems, for them, to be beneficial in cross crediting knowledge and skill.

"Blair and myself have got a pretty busy schedule coming into the Games and through to August and it's something that we've been putting a lot of thought into. A lot of planning has gone in to how the next six months are going to unfold for us."

"We're really looking forward to the challenge and it's going to be good fun."

In January 2014 Emirates Team New Zealand announced that they had signed the pair, and a little over a year later their roles with the America's Cup Challenge stepped up with Burling announced as helmsman for the 2017 campaign.

The pair is coached by Hamish Willcox, a three-time World Champion in the Olympic men's 470 class himself.

Burling, now 25 years old, grew up sailing in the Bay of Plenty at the talent breeding Tauranga Yacht & Powerboat Club, while 26 year old Tuke started his sailing career in Northland, New Zealand with the Kerikeri High School sailing academy and he represents the Kerikeri Cruising Club.

Burling was just 17 years old when he represented New Zealand, and finished 11th at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, sailing in the men's 470 class with Carl Evans. He became the youngest sailor ever to represent New Zealand at the Olympic Games, and was the youngest member of the 2008 New Zealand Olympic Team.

Subsequently joining forces with Blair Tuke to mount an Olympic 49er campaign the kiwis became friends and training partners with the talented Australian pair of Nathan Outteridge and Ian Jensen and rose through the ranks. Leading into London 2012 Outteridge and Jensen were the team to beat, but that proved impossible and the Australian's claimed the Olympic gold while Burling and Tuke collected the silver, which happened to be New Zealand's 100th Olympic medal.

Since then the kiwis have developed an indomitable determination to go one better and win Olympic gold for New Zealand embarking on an unprecedented run of victories at all the major international 49er regattas they've attended.

Burling and Tuke are the 2013, 2014, 2015 and now 2016 World Champions in the 49er, they also won the 2013, 2014 and 2015 49er European Championships.

They were awarded the ISAF World Male Sailor of the Year for 2015, and are finalists for New Zealand's prestigious Halberg Team of the Year to be announced this Thursday in Auckland.

Things really heated up in the women's 49erFX class today with some mixed results from some of the top placed crews and others fighting it out against their national team-mates for Olympic selection.

The FX women raced three gold fleet races this morning in which the New Zealand duo of Alex Maloney and Molly Meech placed 11th, 12th and 5th which saw them go into the final medal race lying 7th overall.

Decreasing and shifting breeze saw the 49erFX medal race sailed in very funky conditions, the kiwis crossing the line in 9th and closing the regatta in 8th overall.

Spain's Tamara Echegoyen and Berta Betanzos have taken the 2016 49erFX world title ahead of Maiken Foght Schutt and Anne-Julie Schutt of Denmark, with Germany's Victoria Jurczok and Anika Lorenz claiming the bronze medal.

This regatta has demonstrated that the 49erFX class will be exciting to watch when it makes its Olympic debut in Rio this year.

Gemma Jones and Jason Saunders capped off their 2016 Nacra 17 World Championships with a 2nd place in their last race of the regatta. Disappointed to miss out on the top ten medal race cut after yesterday, the NZL Sailing Team pair today sailed one race against the remainder of the fleet, and they conclude the regatta in 14th overall.

"We've learnt a lot with equipment here, and we won't make the same mistakes again so I think there is a lot of things we can change to get back to what we think is our best level," said Jason Saunders after yesterday's competition.

"We have about a week off now and then we have our home regatta, Oceanbridge Sail Auckland and we'll go there and we'll race around with the young guys and a few of the other kiwis and then we'll build up with the usual Europe trip, Palma and Hyeres and mix that in with a couple of stints in Rio and really looking towards August."

Olivia Mackay and Micah Wilkinson, New Zealand's up and coming pair in the Olympic mixed multihull class, were 18th in today's race and wrap up the regatta in 19th overall.

Update from Australian Sailing by Cora Zillich

The 2016 Nacra 17, 49er/FX World Championships regatta wrapped up this morning Australian time, Sunday, 14 February 2015 local time with Olympic gold medallists Nathan Outteridge (NSW) and Iain Jensen (NSW) finishing outside the medal ranks and in sixth place. Going into the final top-ten Medal Race in second, the pair also finished the race with a second place, but an early start and disqualification as a result meant a drop to overall sixth in the end.

World #1 Jason Waterhouse (NSW) and Lisa Darmanin (NSW) finished the Nacra 17 World Championships in fifth after a third place in the Medal Race.

Both crews were already selected on the Australian Olympic Team in December.

It was the first time all three of the fastest Olympic boats teamed up for a championship together. The 49er men's skiff has been on the Olympic program since Sydney 2000, while both the 49erFX women's skiff as well as the Nacra 17 mixed-gender multihull will premier on the program at Rio 2016.

Over 120 teams from more than 37 countries competed in front of the Pier on Clearwater Beach, Florida from February 9-14, 2016.

The Nacra 17 and 49er/FX World Championships in Clearwater, Florida, USA will be followed by another highlight on the pre-Olympics racing calendar, the 470 World Championships in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Defending World Champions Matt Belcher (QLD) and Will Ryan (QLD) will contest the event with racing scheduled from 22 – 27 February 2016 and after the pair just won the pre-event, the South American Championships over the week-end.

Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen went into the Medal Race in Silver position after posting a fourth, ninth and first in three strong races earlier in the day. This catapulted them back up from their penultimate day sixth place and into second going into the final race.

But unfortunately a premature start (OCS) in the Medal race cost them dearly and the pair finished outside the medal ranks in sixth.

"We were pretty happy with this mornings sailing and it was to give ourselves a chance for the podium. But we had a bit of a disappointing Medal race from a results standpoint. There was an individual recall at the start and we saw the Danish going back so we wanted to see if the flag went down when they went back. They went back and the flag stayed up, but by that point we were quite a way up wind. And for us to go back would have meant that we would have been last in the race the whole way around, so we decided to keep going. The race was sailed well and we came second, unfortunately we were just a little early at the start," Iain Jensen explained the events in the Medal race.

This wraps up a challenging week for the pair.

"It's been a tough week here. We had an up and down qualifying, one really good day and one wasn't the level we need to be to be at the front of this fleet. There were a few odd mistakes throughout the week, which set us back. Yesterday was tough in the rough conditions and quite a painful exercise with the injury I'm carrying and to sail well today was quite nice. This is not really what we're looking for, we need to do better and we can't make mistakes like we are. There's lot of promise but there's still a lot of hard work to still do," Nathan Outteridge said summing up the week.

And with regards to the rest of the Australian crews he added: "The Aussies squad had a bit of a tough event as well. Dave (Gilmour) and Lewis (Brake) had a really tough day in qualifying and were sitting way down the fleet in 47th. But from there they sailed one of the best events of everyone. They made the cut into Gold fleet, had a really good final series and just missed the Medal race. So after a tough start they had a good finish and it was nice to do Gold fleet with another Aussie team."

Australian Sailing's new combination of David Gilmour (WA) and Lewis Brake (WA) sailed a strong regatta, but after carrying a few high scores from earlier in the week a 23, first and fourth on the last day was not enough to make it into the top-ten. The pair just missed the Medal race and finished the regatta in 13th.

"We haven't spent a lot of time sailing together and the more time we spend in the boat together in race situations the better. Our boat speed improved and we were actually sailing really well at the end. Just day two of the regatta was just a shame. This was probably one of the most competitive Worlds to be at as it's just before the Olympics, so we are pretty happy with how it is going," David Gilmour said.

London 2012 Olympic silver medallists Peter Burling and Blair Tuke from New Zealand won their fourth 49er World title and will be the crew to beat heading into Rio 2016. Austrians Nico Delle Karth and Nikolaus Resch finished second, while Great Britain's crew of Dylan Fletcher-Scott and Alain Sign won the bronze medal.

The Australian 49er squad will head to Palma and the European Championships in Barcelona in March next before planning more time training in Rio.

In the Nacra 17 World #1 Jason Waterhouse (NSW) and Lisa Darmanin (NSW) went into the final top-ten Medal race after a 'character building' tough penultimate day saw them drop from second into fifth place and with only a slim chance left for a podium spot.

It was a day the pair would rather forget, but with the pressure for selection off their shoulders and after winning Silver at the Sailing World Cup in Miami a couple weeks ago, it is all about learning from each race and to take the most out of it for the tasks ahead.

"We went into the Medal race in fifth and the goal was to win it but unfortunately we didn't quite execute that. We sailed the race pretty well, but a few critical mistakes on the first beat cost us a bit. We still finished the race in third and fifth overall and it was a good day," Jason Waterhouse said.

"The World Cup in Miami and the Worlds were priority events for us as they are very similar Rio events. And we were happy to get a Silver medal in Miami and fifth here, which shows our consistency at both regattas and in all wind conditions. So we're happy with that."

And about the event as a whole crew and cousin Lisa Darmanin added: "It's been a pretty tricky week and the conditions have thrown a lot at us. But overall we are happy with how we're sailing and how we are pushing ourselves. We had one really costly day and a few costly races, which was disappointing, but in the end we're training for a Gold medal in Rio and we've learnt a lot of lessons this week. It was a tough event, we're still pretty stoked with fifth and our eyes are still on the prize."

Defending World Champions Billy Besson and Marie Riou from France already secured the World title after the 15-race series with one day to spare. Austrians Thomas Zajac and Tanja Frank took home Silver, while Danish crew of Allan Norregaard and Anette Viborg Andreasen finished third.

Both the 49erFX and Nacra 17 fleets will premier on the Olympic sailing program in Rio, with the Olympic spot in the 49erFX still up for grabs and to be decided over the next couple of months.

Three Australian Sailing Squad 49erFX crews contested the Worlds with all three crews qualifying for Gold fleet but missing out of the top-ten Medal race.

Tess Lloyd (VIC) and Caitlin Elks (WA) finished the regatta as the top ranked Australian boat in 14th after posting a 16-14-12 on the last day.

"It was pretty tricky today and a bit shiftier than all the other days, but overall I think there are some good positives we can go away with. We are going back to Australia now and will have to put in some good hours and will head back to Europe after that to aim for those good results." Tess Lloyd said.

And crew Caitlin Elks added: "We didn't end up in the top ten as we had hoped, so we'll have a bit of work to do over the next few weeks. But we are really trying to get an Olympic worthy performance on the score board."

Olympic silver medallist Olivia Price (NSW) and Elize Solly (VIC) have the same goal and were not far behind to finish the regatta in 16th after posting a 22-20-9 series on the last day of the finals series.

"We had a shifty breeze off the land, which we haven't really had so it was interesting today. We couldn't really pull ourselves together and make the best decisions on the racecourse and really suffered because of that," Olivia Price said about the last day.

And about the event as a whole she added: "Our result here wasn't really what we were hoping for. We do need to go back and just figure out where exactly we went wrong, but we've got a pretty good idea. We do have to put in a performance at some stage and we're hoping to do that in the European events."

About the plans ahead crew Eliza Solly said: "We're going back home now and getting straight back into it all and reviewing what we've recently done. We'll head over to Europe for Palma and our Euros in Barcelona and then over to France for the World Cup in Hyeres."

Haylee Outteridge (NSW) and Olympic silver medallist Nina Curtis (NSW) finished the regatta in 24th. The pair reunited after Nina Curtis missed out of selection to the Australian team in the Nacra 17 together with skipper and dual Olympic silver medallist Darren Bundock at the end of last year.

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