I have penned this report of my experience at the World Championship.
The 2015 World Championship is now wrapped up and the record is that once again Glenn Ashby is the new, and recurrent World Champion.
The pre-race guidebook suggested that the event would be a battle between Glenn Ashby and Mischa Heemskirk and this is how the event played out. It proved to be a closely fought battle. Both sailors are highly skilled, have mastered the art of foiling, and have the hours of training well in excess of virtually any other in the fleet. They both featured the deck sweeping mainsails, which theoretically offer a new level of efficiency, and helpful in the small margins which are critical at the top end of the fleet.
The battle for third place on the podium was realistically the only contest for the remainder of the fleet. In the end it was Manuel Calavia from Spain who prevailed. Forth place went to former World Champion, Steven Brewin from Australia, whilst the emerging talent of countryman Jason Waterhouse took out the fifth position. Jason recently won the Nacra 17 test Olympic test event in Rio, and also is a star on the Extreme 40 Circuit.
The racing over five days was conducted more or less on schedule (given the perennial vagaries of the Wind Gods) in a testing spectrum, from the Class minimum of 5 to 6 knots on the last two days , up to near the Class maximum at around 20 knots during race seven.
The venue was truly superb . The extensive Punta Ala Camping Resort, nestled amongst the Pine Trees, just behind the golden sands of the beachfront, easily accommodated the sailors together with their families, and logistically offered great facilities for all off water activities.
The weather also cooperated with temperatures in the high 20 ‘s , and crystal clear blue skies illuminating the Tyrrhenian Sea in it’s renown Azzure hue.The Race Committee across both the A and B racing courses conducted the racing in an impeccable, fair , and timely manner. The only downside for the whole regatta was the failure of one of the USA containers to be able to clear the Italian Port Authorities which meant six or seven American sailors were unable to participate after making the trip across the Atlantic.
Overall the overall event was magnificent, and in terms of climate, logistics, and natural beauty, it will be difficult to surpass.
The dominant issue arising at the World Annual General Meeting, was the voting regarding the voting on the removal of Rule 8. The resolution to remove Rule 8, petitioned by the USA Fleet, and supported by the United Kingdom , failed by the barest of margins. The resolution achieved achieved 66.34% of vote, falling tantalisingly close of the required 66.666666 required allow a rule change under the Class Constitution.
This rule will remain a polarising issue for the class, and no doubt will be revisited in future. The AGM in it’s wisdom resolved to have the Technical Committee look at the issue with a view to coming up with suggestions that can be put to the membership in future which may perhaps help facilitate foiling, but do not destroy the essential catamaran nature of the class.
In the meantime the developments will roll onwards. Technology never sleeps.
The Australian Team will shortly return home to a Spring and Summer of great A Class competition In early January 2016, the Australian A Class National Championships will return to Lake Macquarie, a large coastal saltwater lake not far to the north of Sydney. Once again the lake is primed to play host to some of the World’s best sailors , pitting the professional sailors of the America’s Cup and Olympic leagues, against a fleet of talented amateurs.
The event is likely to be a reprise of the 2012 event, won by Glenn Ashby, from Nathan Outteridge, with Steven Brewin third.
That star studied fleet- Ashby, Outteridge, Spithill, Brewin, Landenberger, Slingsby, Anderson, to name but a few- was judged by Glenn Ashby to be the toughest fleet in his career to that date.
The 2016 event will be held quite literally outside the front doorstep of the Australian Residence of James Spithill, at the suburb of Sunshine, on the south western perimeter of Lake Macquarie.
Spithill will be using the event as a training camp for his fellow Oracle America’s Cup team members, so it sounds like compulsory attendance for the lads.
Lake Macquarie also happens to be the Christmas time residence of Nathan Outteridge, who is also rumoured to be purchasing another A Class to compete in the event.
Glenn Ashby who seems to have his name engraved on the Australian trophy in perpetuity is keen to attend, but at this time can’t definitely commit due to other possible engagements.
In 2012, Bob Baier from Germany and several other Europeans also made the trip Down Under to compete.
Perhaps some Europeans will consider competing in what will once again be a very prestigious and challenging event. Beats shovelling snow from your driveway. Perhaps even some Americans could consider taking the long way home from Punta Ala?
The Australian exchange rate looks to be heading very much in favour of the Euro and American Dollar as the Aussie Dollar also heads Down Under in one of it’s periodical cyclical motions.
You may ask why there are so many good Australian sailors?. Well it is partly because the Australian climate affords a long sailing season with generally good winds and venues. But the other thing is because Australians travel a good deal to Internationally compete!
The Australian fleet is currently building strongly with a good influx of younger sailors attracted to the thrill of sailing high performance foiling catamarans. The result of the Rule 8 debate is largely irrelevant. The boats already foil, and there is considerable successful development within the current rule, as is the logical progression. There is much original thinking and experimentation happening in this regard.
See you in Australia!