The Kiwi Flying Phantom team, Hamilton Huas, helmed by Isaac McHardie and crewed by Tokyo 2020 hopeful Micah Wilkinson, will go down in history as the winner of the first ever Flying Phantom event in China and the Far East.
Taking part in the Qingdao Mazarin Cup powered by Extreme Sailing Series, an event organised by OC Sport and the Qingdao Administration Center for Sailing Sport, to mark the tenth anniversary of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, the New Zealand duo shone on the water, exhibiting exemplary sailing straight off the mark.
Although sailing was stalled by strong winds on the first day of the event, the Kiwis kept the rest of the twelve-strong international fleet of one design foiling catamarans at bay with flawless boat handling. The penultimate day saw them score wins in every single race, moving into the finale with an impressive 18-point lead on the chasing French team, Culture Foil.
Hamilton Huas closed the competition with their ranking unchanged; the final day of the competition was plagued by light winds that prevented any further scoring races.
“We're absolutely stoked to have won the event,” exclaimed an excited Micah Wilkinson. “It's been such a well run event with some awesome racing. Yesterday was one of the best days I've ever had on the water, 15 knots, reaching – it was amazing. Isaac and I haven't sailed together for a while so to come out on top is really exciting.”
His teammate, Isaac McHardie, was equally as thrilled with their performance.
“This was my first event with Micah on the Flying Phantom,” he said with a smile. “To take the top spot is really cool. It's been really tricky but amazing fun. I haven't sailed the Phantom that much so it's been really awesome to get on the foils again.”
Wednesday's racing saw a big change from the 24-knot winds that opened the event. Wind speeds of nought to two kts on the final day made for a tricky afternoon for Race Management. Race Director Anne Mallédant decided to run exhibition races only, the Chinese crowds cheering as the two-person catamarans sailed around Fushan Bay under the Eastern sun.
“Unfortunately the wind became really shifty,” explained Mallédant. “We had 90-degree wind shifts, and the windspeed dropped to two knots. It was not possible to set fair races – the key point is to make the game fair. My decision was to go for non-point scoring races to put on a show for the many spectators on shore.”
The lack of scoring races meant that both Culture Foil and Team France Jeune held onto their medals – the two French teams finished the event in second and third respectively.
Team France Jeune were ecstatic to end the event with a foot on the podium, having headed into the competition with a lot to learn about the boat.
“We're really pleased to be on the podium,” enthused Louis Flament, the team's helm. “At the beginning of the competition, I said we were training, but I think we did a good job over the week. I'm really happy with our performance on the boat – it was a great competition.”
For the crew onboard local Team Qingdao, the final day came as a disappointment. All hopes of climbing the ranks were dashed as scoring races were called off by Race Management.
“We improved a lot so it was a shame that we couldn't get some races in today,” said Annabel Vose, crew for the home team, and one of the two female participants. “We could have shown everyone what we've learnt. Still, it was great fun to be here.”
The Qingdao Mazarin Cup powered by Extreme Sailing Series concluded with an impressive closing ceremony. In true Chinese style, the sailors celebrated the success of this spectacular event with a colourful celebration in front of the city's high rise skyline.
Although this was the last Flying Phantom event of the Extreme Sailing Series this year, fans can follow the rest of the Series as its headline GC32 speed machines head Stateside later this month. Extreme Sailing Series San Diego, presented by SAP, runs from 18-21 October.
2018 Qingdao Mazarin Cup powered by Extreme Sailing Series standings after Day 4, 10 races (03.10.18)
Position / Team / Points
1st, Hamilton Huas (NZL) Isaac McHardie, Micah Wilkinson: 110 points
2nd, Culture Foil (FRA) Nicolas Ferrellec, Theo Constance: 92 pts
3rd, Team France Jeune (FRA) Louis Flament, Charles Dorange: 91 pts
4th, Flying Frogs (FRA) Pierre Le Clainche, Arnaud Vasseur: 81 pts
5th, Agiplast Compounding (HKG) Rob Partridge, Morgan Peach: 67 pts
6th, BIC Sport (FRA) Pierre Boulbin, Riwan Perron: 60 pts
7th, ABM (FRA) Pierre-Yves Durand, Francois Bois: 57 pts
8th, EVO Visian ICL (GER) Kim-Anne Le Formal, Elias Neuhann: 55 pts
9th, Back to Basics (FRA) Eric Le Bouedec, Basile Bourgnon: 53 pts
10th, Team Qingdao (CHN) Max Richardson, Annabel Vose: 43 pts
11th, Spanish Impulse (SPA) Albert Torres, Oriol Mahiques: 39 pts
12th, Black Flag Racing (FRA) Martin Evans, Hugo Le Pomellec: 22 pts