After three years of build-up, significant preparation and 5 days of quality racing, New Zealander Sam Street has taken out the 2022 International WASZP Games in an exhilarating final day of racing on Lake Garda.
Street made his move on the first day of finals with three wins, however, a 24th in the first race of gold fleet competition left him vulnerable right up to the end of the event. Sam Whaley from Great Britain had sailed an incredibly consistent event with only two scores outside of the top ten leading into the last day. Enzio Savoini from Italy was also in the running on the back of a brilliant performance in qualifying.
The first race of the day occurred in slightly lighter conditions, with Street and Savoini finding the going tough, Whaley rocketed into contention with a solid eighth position, while Street and Savoini had big scores in the late twenties. This is the beauty of this racing; it is so competitive and level that anything inside the top ten would always be a keeper result.
Street would have been very nervous with his lead cut right down, this was amplified in race two of the day with Whaley showing his class to take an all the way victory, Street and Savoini were back in 8th & 9th respectively all but ending Savoini’s title charge and leaving a match race between Whaley and Street for the overall win.
In the 3rd race of the day and the wind increasing, Street begun to find his groove and was able to reset mentally with a 5th, locking down on Whaley who finished 5th in the penultimate race, with now classic Ora conditions that have been prevalent throughout the event the stage was set for an epic showdown between these two fantastic young sailors.
Street and Whaley elected to sail their own races off the start line of the final race. Street said after the final race that he did not want to engage Whaley as he felt his strength was always going to be sailing his own race his way, while, Whaley, an exceptional Laser sailor in the GBR sailing team, had relied on strong race strategy throughout the event reflecting in his consistency. However, this left Street vulnerable, and he was very deep around the first windward mark with Whaley well up in the fleet. With only five points separating the two sailors going into the final race, it was in Whaleys hands, Street had posted two big scores and could not afford another one if he were to claim the title. Street then began the long road back, with exceptional downwind technique, he motored through the fleet to be just inside the top ten at the last windward gate, still anything could happen with Whaley up in second, the title was still in his keeping. Again, Street showed incredible downwind speed and technique to sneak through the fleet to work his way up to third place, just one place behind Whaley and take the crown in the most dynamic of final races. This was also enough for Street to take the Youth (age 21-26) title from Whaley and Swiss sailor Nick Zeltner in fifth overall took third in the Youth division.
That third place sparked wild celebrations amongst the New Zealand team, however, the WASZP Class would have to be one of the tightest communities in sailing. Whaley was far from disappointed, in fact he was absolutely stoked for Street, jumping in the water to celebrate with him and a bunch of other sailors from all different countries. The stoke and vibe within the WASZP fleet is something you need to get to an event and experience. While the battle is fierce on the water everyone is mates off the water, it is something incredibly special. Street, Whaley and Savoini all mentioned in their post event interviews that the WASZP family is incredible and what makes this class one of the best in the world, even if you are disappointed or have a bad performance there is always someone there to pick you up and there is genuine excitement for those who achieve their goals.
With the overall Championship run and won, attention turned to the other divisions, with all categories still up for grabs going into the final race. In the women’s championship Elise Beavis had built a solid buffer over Nora Doksrod in the thirty strong women’s division and put an exclamation mark on her win with a brilliant fifth place in the final race of the event, to take her to 22nd overall. With the level increasing all the time, it is only a matter of time before we see our women sailors on the podium at a major event. The battle for third was intense, with Mathilde Robertstad taking third place after a great battle with Isabella Fellows and Hattie Rogers from Great Britain, Robertstad also claimed a ninth placing in the first race of finals racing on the penultimate day showing her talent.
In the junior division (U20) which had over seventy entrants, it again came down to a fantastic battle Paul Hameetman from the Netherlands finished eighth overall and took the win over Jack Ferguson from Australia who finished 17th overall just 7pts ahead of Antonin Radu of Switzerland who finished 19th overall. With so much young talent coming through the fleet, the future is extremely bright for the class. With many sailors stepping straight out of Optimists and into the WASZP or using the WASZP as a cross training platform with their youth classes, we are seeing fantastic retention in the fleet which is not just great for WASZP but also the sport.
The Apprentice division (age 26-39), it was an Italian trifecta, with the Savoini’s took out 1st and 3rd with Enzio in first and Emanuele in third, in the middle was foiling week champion Ettore Botticini who had a fantastic week to finish fourth overall. Again, this shows the spread of ages throughout the WASZP fleet; sailors over any age can be competitive at the top of the fleet. Something very unique and special to the WASZP Class.
The master’s division was again a hotly contested championship with former French Olympic sailor Pierre LeBoucher taking first place and 24th overall, just three places ahead of Giovanni Bonzio from Italy who put in a mighty effort on the final day. George Wills from New Zealand continued the awesome performance from the kiwi team to place 3rd in the masters.
The super-master division (over 50) had a fantastic 19 entrants and there was awesome racing all the way down the fleet. The stoke is very high in this area of the fleet, with a great community of older sailors competing at a high-level, but also enjoying their own battles within the fleet. Plenty of beer bets at this end of the fleet. Andrew McDougall sailed a fantastic regatta to win the super-master division, Ulrich Volz from Switzerland backed up his 2nd placing at the Euros in the super-master category with another 2nd at the Games. An epic battle for third place ensued on the final day of racing with just three points separating Geoff Carveth from GBR, Jervis Tilly from Australia and Mikel Vazquez from Spain. Carveth took third placing despite a DSQ in the final race and a fast-finishing Tilly who placed 11th in silver fleet to nearly snatch a podium spot.
In silver fleet, Louis Schofield from Australia showed he will be a force to be renowned with in the future with a dominant performance yielding three wins in the finals series to take the silver fleet by 35pts, to Olly McGill from GBR and Simon Marecek from CZE. Schofield will be looking to make the jump up to gold fleet when the International Games head to his home city in Melbourne (Sorrento) in 2023.
The 6.9 division was again an Aussie affair with Aidan Simmons showing his class to defeat Maxime Donazzon from France and Piero Delneri from Italy, with a strong final day. Simmons is fresh off an Opti worlds campaign and stepped into his first international event in the WASZP. Again, with Sorrento being one of his home clubs, he will no doubt be looking forward to the event in home waters in 2023.
In the new WASZP_X class, Rebecca Geiger from Italy won the championship after making the step up from green fleet into the main silver fleet for the championship racing, showing the pathway is already working. She sailed brilliantly to be quite competitive in the new class and learning plenty along the way. Second place went to her brother Tommaso Geiger. We are expecting huge growth in the WASZP_X in the next 12 months as many opti kids make the transition. There are already over 30 WASZP_X in ten countries and growing every week.
The green fleet was the final addition to the event, which has been an amazing success. Providing on-water coaching for new sailor while they are on the racecourse has been a game changer. There is now no excuse not to attend a WASZP event, it is 100% the best place to learn and with more investment coming in this area, we expect to see significant growth as we look to transition as many sailors as possible into the main fleet over the coming years. Young Adriano Vazquez showed great form to take eleven wins from sixteen races and see him progress into the main fleet at the next event. Pia Tveita from Norway part of a three-boat strong family at this event showed great form to finish second and take some races off Adriano. While young Tommaso Geiger in his WASZP_X claimed third place.
FULL RESULTS >>>https://racehub.waszp.com/eventdetail/61
Overall, what else can we say, 170 WASZPs competed across all divisions at this event, the racing at the top of the fleet was just as exciting all the way through the fleet. The social calendar was spectacular, and many sailors are calling this the most epic experience of their lives. That is WASZP sailing in a nutshell; it is a community and a class built on experiences. As a class we will continue to go to fantastic venues that are suited to all areas of the class, great foiling conditions, elite locations, fantastic social scenes. The culture is incredibly strong, and this will continue into 2023.
As the 2022 International WASZP Games comes to a close we would like to thank our sponsors for helping make this possible. WASZP (the manufacturer) invested so heavily in the event circuit, Rooster as our class clothing partner, Sailmon as our sailing instrument partner and Ronstan who jumped in for the event as our hardware partner. As well as our sponsors we want to thank all the competitors who made this event so special and one that will live in the minds for a long time.
We now turn our attention to 2023, class manager Martin Evans has been busy setting up the schedule for the years to come and continue this momentum. For the Europeans we head to France and Quiberon Bay for a huge European Games, we hope we can build on the fleet we had in Italy, with such close proximity to the large fleet in the UK as well as its relative central location to Spain, Italy and Switzerland we can expect an incredible event.
Then in December 2023, the International Games return to Australia, Sorrento. An unbelievable place to sail with good wind and flat-water racing. The club will have a new facility completed in 2022 and will be ready to host 150+ WASZPs with no stone left unturned to match the experience in Garda. For now, it is farewell. Until next time!
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Photo: James Tomlinson