Waterhouse and Darmanin win Nacra bronze in thrilling medal race at Santander

With the gold medals already in the pockets of the French pair Billy Besson and Marie Riou, interest in the mixed multihull medal race for the Nacra 17s lay in the battle for silver and bronze.

Australia's young guns Jason Waterhouse and his cousin Lisa Darmanin were a single point behind the second-placed Vittorio Bassaro and Silvia Sicouri of Italy. Whichever crew finished ahead of the other would prevail.

But there was a following pack of five, including two British crews, Argentina, New Zealand and fellow Australians Darren Bundock and Nina Curtis, who were all technically within medal range.

The battle between the two Australian crews would be for bragging rights, with both having strong pedigrees. Bundock is a 14 times world multihull champion, including seven in the old Olympic class, the Tornado, where he won two silver medals, and Curtis was a silver medallist in the women's match racing at London 2012. Waterhouse and Darmanin won the Youth Worlds in the multihull and Waterhouse helmed the Objective Australia AC45 in the Youth America's Cup in San Francisco last year.

Like the 49er medal race, this was a game of snakes and ladders. First one side worked, then the other. But it was the Argentinians, trying to close the five point gap they needed for a medal, who took the early lead, with the Swiss in hot pursuit. As in the 470, the confirmed gold medallists, France, stayed out of the way.

There was an exciting moment at the top mark when GBR and the second French crew came in hot on port. GBR was forced to duck the two Australian boats and the French didn't leave them enough room. There will be damage to fix and a protest to attend but it won't affect the result.

Another drama happened at the same mark the second time, where Bundock, on port, almost managed to tack in time to have rights but forced the Swiss to alter course and he was red-flagged. It's amazing how quickly a multihull can do a penalty turn when steered by a veteran!

By this stage the Italians were buried at the back of the pack and out of contention but the Argentinians, holding a good lead, had moved past Waterhouse and Darmanin for silver.

It was a case of counting boats as Gemma Jones and Jason Saunders of New Zealand were staying just in front of the Australians, depriving them of the two boat buffer they required.

Nathalie Brugger, the girlfriend of Australian 470 gold medallist, Will Ryan, was on the Swiss boat and she and helm Matias Buhler did their part. They forced their way past the Argentinians on the line to win the medal race.

Waterhouse was furiously trying to protect the silver, drag racing the Kiwis and looking over his shoulder at the French and Americans. He threw a final tack, but Jones has been taught well by her famous America's Cup winning father Murray and she prevailed by half a boat length.

“She sailed a really good race, “Waterhouse said. “She went hot at the mark and tried to roll us and Billy (French skipper Besson) was in the way. We had to go with the lesser of two evils.”

An excited Lisa Darmanin reflected on only their second open championship: “We set a goal last year and set it high, to get on the podium at the Worlds. We didn't start too well but kept working hard.

“I suppose early on we were a bit spooked, the confidence wasn't there, we weren't backing ourselves. So we stopped being scared, stopped putting people on pedestals and here we are. Silver was an inch away but we'll take third.”

Both paid credit to coach Andrew Landenberger and the other Australian crews, especially Bundock and Curtis, whom they said had been very supportive and helpful. With eighth place in the medal race, that pair finished ninth overall. Baring one bad day where they collected their only double-digit placings in three consecutive races, they had an excellent regatta. “We just left ourselves too much to do,” said Bundock, acknowledging that he'd thrown caution to the wind and was trying “anything” at the back of the pack.

The Nacra 17 replaced the women's match racing in the suite of 10 Olympic classes for Rio. Australia won silver in the match racing at London and it looks as though they are on track to protect that medal in the new event.

And to add the icing to the cake, the bronze medal at this Worlds elevates Waterhouse and Darmanin into a higher category at the AST, meaning their living allowance will increase as a result.

See the Nacra results here.

Finn Class

No Australians were involved in the Finn class, which resulted in a 14 point victory for Giles Scott (GBR), his second world title after playing second fiddle to the great Ben Ainslie for many years.

Like Billy Besson in the Nacra and Mat Belcher in the 470, Scott stayed out of the way and was happy to finish fourth in the medal race.

Ivan Gaspic (CRO) took silver and Ed Wright (GBR) took bronze.

Although not in the medal race here, Australia has qualified for the Olympics and either Jake Lilley and Oliver Tweddell could make this another medal prospect in Rio.

See the full Finn results here.

– Roger McMillan in Santander


JPK August 2023
JPK August 2023
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