Finally, the British duo David Lloyd and Joanna Jones-Pierce broke the French domination at the Dart 18 Worlds 2009 in Aruba. They managed to steal one bullet from the leaders Emmanuel Dodé and Fred Moreau. The three scheduled races could be sailed in a building breeze, starting with about 20 knots in the morning. At the first start in the afternoon, a shower with gale-force winds hit the open class of the Aruba Heineken Catamaran Regatta. The runners-up John Moret and Paul Smissaert pitch poled and destroyed their F18 mainsail. The competition in the Dart 18 fleet was full on, with the Swiss team Heynisch/Gysi as newcomer to the top five. The podium positions changed in both classes.
Palm Tours Race 4 – Unfortunate start for French couple Wibaux
Today's first race showed an interesting line-up for the start. The Dutchmen Goudriaan/Damen chose for the pin-end, whereas the Atol Sailing Team Dodé/Moreau crossed the line in the middle and Lloyd/Jones-Pierce at the committee boat. Thierry and Christine Wibaux (FRA) were struck with bad luck, as their mainsail hook came off minutes after the gun. They had to fix it on the beach. The French title defenders and the Dutchmen went into the left corner and took a clear lead at the top mark, with Dodé and Moreau in a comfortable first position. Both frontrunners hang on to their position till the finish, but there was a strong battle for the third place. Werner Heynisch and Markus Gysi from Switzerland sailed in third position, until Nicolette van Gorp and Ruud van Gisbergen (NED) overtook them in the second beat. Van Gorp: “We went through the middle, which paid. But we lost our place to the Germans, by going to the left in the last upwind. The gusts were troubling us.” That is how Matthias Huber and Dominik Volke finished third.
Setar Race 5 and 6 – Tough competition in the top
In the first race after the lunch, the heat was full on. Dodé and Moreau thought they were early over the line and went back for a re-start. Lloyd and Jones-Pierce took advantage of the situation and were first around the top mark. Lloyd: “We were fired up after such a bad race this morning.” The British duo finished ninth. “The Swiss gave us a good battle. They caught us on a gust downwind and on the second run Emmanuel had a massive comeback.” Moreau explains: “We had to attack, so we tried to play the shifts and gusts.” This time, it was good enough for a second place, after Lloyd and Jones-Pierce. Lloyd: “At least, we have saved the British record of Gereth Owen this week. He became the 1998 Dart 18 World Champion by winning every race.” Huber and Volke finished third.
Although Dodé and Moreau re-installed their tradition of taking bullets in today's last race, it wasn't an easy win. They were first round the top mark, but with Huber/Volke directly in their wake. Dodé: “We had a great battle with Matthias and Dominik. Our upwind speed is a bit better and they are a little quicker downwind.” Huber comments: “We even overtook him at one point, but they are pointing higher and the crew is working the mainsheet on every wave. They sail perfectly.” The Germans climbed to a third place on the overall leader board. Thierry and Christine Wibaux dropped to the seventh position, as they pitch poled close to the last gate.
It was a busy time for the rescue boats of the Aruba Watersports Center, as many boats capsized and several helmsmen fell overboard and had to be picked up.
Aruba Heineken Catamaran Regatta
“I have never ever started with 40 knots breeze”, said Xander Pols on the beach. Just before the first race in the afternoon, a squall with gale force winds came over. John Moret and Paul Smissaert tried to bear away for the line, but pitch poled merciless. That was already the second unfortunate moment for the Dutch F18 sailors on this fourth day. Their mainsail came undone in the morning, so they missed the first gun and fought back to a sixth position. But the second time of bad luck put an end to today's racing, as they fell through the mainsail and they struggled to get the boat upright again. Leo Ambtman and Maarten Kroon (NED) sailed their Tornado well and overtook the second position overall.
Although the Pols brothers won every race, there were also some surprises on the course. The Dutch F18 sailors Willie van der Heijden and Arthur Moerman finished second and third in the afternoon. And the mixed Aruban/Dutch team of Friso Bakker and Henk Hankarth was first over the line in the morning. Bakker with a smile: “We finished ahead of Xander, which is a legendary moment.” They are sailing a Dart 18 and have to do one lap less. Bakker: “We were too late with entering the Worlds. That is why we are participating at the Aruba Regatta, but we are enjoying it very much.”
After a day full of action, the participants and their families are welcomed to the Holiday Inn dinner party on the beach. Their program for tomorrow includes another three races in windy conditions.
Top five Dart 18 Worlds 2009 after five races and one discard:
FRA – Emmanuel Dodé & Fred Moreau, 5 points
GBR – David Lloyd & Joanna Jones-Pierce, 13 points
GER – Matthias Huber & Dominik Volke, 15 points
NED – Ruud Goudriaan & Bart Damen, 20 points
SUI – Werner Heynisch & Markus Gysi, 30 points
Top three Aruba Heineken Catamaran Regatta after races and one discard:
NED – Xander & Mark Pols, 5 points
NED – Leo Ambtman & Maarten Kroon, 26,5 points
NED – John Moret & Paul Smissaert, 28 points
In addition to the title sponsors Aruba Tourism Authority and Heineken Aruba NV, this year's Aruba Heineken Catamaran Regatta and Dart18 World Championships are also supported by Martinair, GILS Worldwide, Setar, Holiday Inn, Does & Cadushi, Tropical Bottling Company, Coca Cola, AWA, Aruba Aloë, VR Shipping, Aruba Watersports Center, Palm Tours, Pelican Watersports, Seaworld Explorer, Moomba, Zwitserleven, TNG, Patria and AMI Kappers.