World Championships . An Outsider’s Perspective

Fremantle as the port city of Perth in Western Australia has a rich heritage of seafaring and the fabled Freo Doctor, the sea breeze that comes in around noon during summer played its part in this regatta.

How do you tell a story of a world championship in a fleet that abounds in world champions? Easy; ignore them. As an outsider, asked to step up, my only choice was to evaluate what I saw on and off the water. That meant looking and listening to every presentation and talking to people who were there. What did I see?

A mature and well developed association/fleet that has a wonderful coherence, one where a competitor, the current leader at the time, broke his centre board and his main competition sent their coach boat back to the beach and returned in time with a spare centreboard to allow his competitor to continue sailing.

A fleet where young and old mingle easily, where the mid fleet performers are celebrated as well as the winners. Gender is no barrier with male and female crews melding well and the girls putting up great performances despite the weight disadvantage on a heavy day.

The world champions were already named by the end of the fourth day and Mike Martin and Adam Lowry of the West Coast of USA were content to pack their boat on the final day and leave the field open for some champagne sailing on the last day.

This allowed the fleets to sail to their maxima and former world champions USA’s Mike Holt and Carl Smit took away second by 2 points from up and coming Parker Shinn and Eric Anderson also of the USA.  It’s no secret that these teams all hail from the west coast, train together and are used to the big sea breezes that boom in on the coast. Their sailing reflects that and it’s a point to observe that the top Australian pair was local sailors. Peter Nicholas and Luke Payne took a well deserved fourth overall and owe their success to a degree to their time spent on the water off Fremantle.

The Classic fleets had a great result when Swedes Galen Mack and Wilhelm Johannisson took the win from Aussies Neil Long and David Atwell with RSA’s Bronwen Klaas and Kobus Holtzhausen in third place.

In the Australian Nationals, run concurrently with the Worlds, Peter Nicholas and Luke Payne took the win from big improvers Chris Patterson and Thor Schoenhoff with Sandy Higgins and Paul Marsh taking third.

Fremantle Sailing Club and the host of volunteers, both on and off the water should be commended on their hard work to make this world championship a success and the tremendous roll up of visiting sailors from around the globe shows how well this class is loved. The three or four hundred guests in the Sunset Bar on Monday presentations night roared with approval at the crowning of the new Word champions Mike Martin and Adam Lowry and listened in fascination to the tales spun by engineer and sailor par excellence Mike Martin of the time and work put into getting there. Apparently for the first time, his family accompanied him and the chirp of his daughter reminding all and sundry that “that’s my daddy” rang through the crowd near the stage.

The Freo doctor may well be described as relentless in its force as was described on day three, but we were blessed with five days of great sailing in breezes that stretched from light to medium strong. Suitable for testing every aspect of the assembled fleet of 90 yachts.

The 505 World Championships now moves to Bastad in Sweden in July-August 2020 and the Swedish summer welcomes all to this south western coastal area.

 

Rick Steuart

Perth Sailing Photography