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International One Metre Worlds at Queensland, Australia

by Peter Stollery 4 Oct 2005 20:28 BST
Action from the One Metre worlds in Australia © Mike Clifton

The 6th ISAF World Championship for the International One Metre class was held at Kawana Waters, just north of Mooloolaba on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia. It was the first worlds set up by the class association, IOMICA, since ISAF RSD handed over responsibility for the class two years ago, and it promised much with a great venue, impeccable organisation and all 4 of the previous world champions in attendance. Trevor Binks (GBR) was looking to become the first to successfully defend the title whilst Graham Bantock (GBR), Craig Smith (AUS) and Martin Roberts (GBR) were all looking to add to previous successes.

The two practice days showed that IOM designs had moved on a little since Vancouver with a noticeable shift away from the wide skiff designs such as the TS2 with only a handful being sailed. The Australian contingent were largely sailing Cockatoos or Discos, designs which have been developed, built and raced by Jeff Byerley and Brad Gibson respectively. Craig Smith had finally parted from the TS2 with which he had so much success, both commercially and on the race course, and was sailing his own new design, Obsession. Not surprisingly Craig described it as a skinny TS2 and it was built with his usual attention to detail, including wireless batteries which were enclosed within a moulded unit which plugged directly into the radio control tray under the circular hatch - very neat. Graham Bantock was sailing a newly built Topiko, the design he used to win the Europeans last year, whilst Martin Roberts and Trevor Binks stuck to their tried and tested Gadget and Isis designs respectively. Sadly, the fleet of 84 boats from 15 countries consisted of less own designed and built boats than at previous championships but there were a few who showed they could comfortably compete with the commercially available boats. The Croatian pair of Zvonko Jelavic and Ante Kovacevic both sailed home built boats to the Seplan design whilst New Zealanders Geoff Smale and Graham Cross both showed good pace during practice with Graham's Crossbreed design. In addition to Dave Creed’s hard chined Lintel design sailed by David Potter (GBR), the two individual boats at the event were the comparatively narrow designs of the Isotonic and the Scharming MK12 sailed by Peter Stollery (GBR) and Michael Scharmer (GER) respectively. In particular, Michael's approach to IOM design has certainly opened a few eyes to what is possible with these competitive boats and it was no surprise to see that his oval foredeck holes, which allow the jib pivot to drop down to leeward when hard pressed, had appeared on the new generation of Cockatoos.

Day 1 of racing began in spectacular fashion with the 25m x 40m boat storage marquee having literally been blown away during the night by gale force winds. Fortunately, and quite amazingly, the few boats and gear that had been left inside and French competitor Pierre Marchand (who was sleeping in the tent!) survived unharmed. The same could not be said of the marquee or the trees it demolished as it flew through the air. The tent may have gone but the wind certainly had not. The average wind speed made sailing in rig 3 great fun although the squalls made it virtually impossible to tack and sometimes difficult to see as huge dust and sand clouds were whipped up across the race course. The inability to tack on occasions made some question the size of their rudders but were later reassured to learn later that gusts in excess of 45 knots had been recorded during the day! The seeding races went much more to form than at previous championships with the testing conditions allowing the top skippers to demonstrate how to cope in wind and waves that many skippers had never sailed in before. Wins for Smith, Bantock, Gibson, Smale and Michael Greive (AUS) got the event underway with only one of the pre race favourites, Paul Jones (AUS) sailing a Cockatoo, failing to make the top heat. However, he was quickly up to join the others recording a 4th in race 2 behind Smith making it two wins out of two. Smith then made it the perfect start to the event completing a hat-trick of wins in the final race of the day in an easing wind, showing that his Obsession was just as quick in rig 2 as it was in rig 3.

Despite forecasts to the contrary, day 2 began with south westerly gales again, with the early heats using rig 3. However, the wind quickly lost its force and rig 2 was used for races 4 and 5 by those in heat A. Jones recorded his first win in race 4 with Phillip Playle (GBR) and Bantock recording back to back wins for the Topiko in races 5 and 6. Race 6 was sailed in lighter winds that blew in as a sea breeze from the north east and proved to be the general wind direction for the remainder of the week. By the end of the day Bantock had opened up a 5 point lead over Smith with Jones, Playle, Roberts, Stollery and Gibson all in the chasing pack.

With a north easterly expected off the sea the race committee, led by PRO Craig Jones, opted to moved the control area to a new part of the lake for day 3, where the event would remain for the rest of the week. The unavoidable problem caused by this location was a relatively short start line and short first beat which continually caused incidents at the first mark but, short of extending the promontory on which the control area was located, there was nothing the race committee could do. In races 8 and 9 Stollery recorded back to back wins in the relatively light rig 1 winds. These results brought Stollery right back into contention after an average start to the event whilst Roberts continued to plug away very consistently before being relegated to B heat in the last race of the day which was won by Bantock.

Bantock's good finish to day 3 was quickly forgotten on day 4 as he promptly got relegated in race 11 and then showed that even the very best can get it wrong as he failed to gain promotion back to heat A for 2 races, even flirting with a trip to heat C at one point. As Bantock scored heavily, the other contenders took advantage with wins for Stollery, Smith and Jones in races 12, 13 and 14 with Roberts again displaying dogged consistency. For the event organisers, led by local man David Turton, the leaderboard must have been a dream come true as proceedings came to a close before the lay day. Three former world champions and the current British and Australian national champions separated by just 11 points. Brad Gibson, another pre race favourite, was struggling to find his form and was gradually slipping further behind the top 5 and Trevor Binks’s event was not evolving as he had hoped, as he slipped to heat B for the second time in the last race of the day. Sadly for him, he was never to make it back to heat A, such was the level of competition.

After the lay day, it appeared to be business as usual with the wind beginning to swing round to the sea breeze direction. However, day 6 did not pan out as the race committee envisaged with the wind stopping at a more easterly direction meaning that ideal sailing conditions on the larger stretch of the lake went frustratingly unused. Not that this was to make any difference to the top 5 with their performances increasingly dominating the racing. Of the 20 results that Smith, Bantock, Jones, Stollery and Roberts would achieve between them over the day’s 4 races, incredibly only 4 results were worse than 6th place. Only Mike Clifton (GBR) managed to break their dominance with an impressive win in race 17. At the close of play the gap between 1st and 5th remained small at just 14 points although Smith appeared to be creeping away with 2 race wins during the day.

Smith’s push for victory gathered pace with a win in the opening race of day 7 with the wind again dictating rig 1 and short first beats. Establishing a lead to defend was not going to be easy though, and in race 20 the pendulum swung dramatically in Bantock’s favour as Smith retired after missing a mark whilst unsighted and Bantock notched up his 5th race win. Smith then made very hard work of getting out of heat B, managing to grab the 4th promotion spot in the last few metres before the line, only to trail Bantock around the course again as he won race 21. It was now clear that, as the final day loomed, it was going to be a two horse race with Bantock leading Smith by 5 points, although mathematically all 5 skippers were still in contention.

Day 8 and conditions were identical to the previous day although the wind did freshen enough for some in the lower heats to use rig 2. The final day actually belonged to Brad Johnston (AUS) as he sailed superbly to record back to back wins in races 22 and 23 but that was not what the gathering crowds had come to watch Would Bantock or Smith prevail or would Paul Jones creep up on the rails to steal it? Race 22 tipped the scales back towards Smith as he followed Johnston home in second, whilst Bantock came in 13th, a result he had to count as a consequence of his heavy scoring earlier in the week. Bantock closed the gap down to 4 points in race 23, finishing 2nd with Smith 4th and so it all came down to the last race. Bantock had to beat Smith by 4 places to tie and win on countback. Stollery led to the first mark but was hotly pursued by Bantock and Smith who had stuck to each other like glue up the first beat. Jones and Roberts were also in attendance as the top 5 again seemed to slip away from the rest. Jones took the lead up the second beat which was not good news for Bantock, as sailing Smith down the fleet at that stage could have inadvertently handed the title to Jones. At the finish, Jones claimed a much deserved 3rd race win but it was Smith who won the match race battle, overcoming Bantock to regain the IOM World title by 5 points. Fittingly, Stollery and Roberts followed Smith and Bantock across the line meaning that for the only time in the event, the top 5 skippers filled the top 5 finishing positions, though not in leaderboard order. Smith was delighted to have regained the title in such a tight race, so much so that he actually threw himself in at the end!

Overall Results:

1st Craig Smith, Australia 79pts
2nd Graham Bantock, Great Britain 84pts
3rd Paul Jones, Australia 90pts
4th Martin Roberts, Great Britain 96pts
5th Peter Stollery, Great Britain 106pts
6th Brad Gibson, Australia 172pts
7th Brad Johnston, Australia 218pts
8th Zvonko Jelacic, Croatia 235pts
9th Ante Kovacevic, Croatia 242pts
10th Chris Harris, Great Britain 250.5pts

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