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1 April 2011, 09:58 am
Hunger and Kleiner Win SAP 505 Worlds In Dramatic Fashion
Final Day
Hamlin And Zinn Show Their Speed On Final Day

SAP 2011 505 World Championship
Hamilton Island, Australia

Reigning champions Wolfgang Hunger and Julien Kleiner (GER) have won the 2011 SAP 505 World Championship at Hamilton Island Australia.

It was Wolfgang Hunger's fifth 505 world title win and Julien Kleiner's second. It was also the second time Michael Holt and Carl Smit (USA) have had to play bridesmaid. "I have no choice but to go to the Worlds in La Rochelle next year - I'm hooked," Holt said.

An outside chance for the title, South Australians Sandy Higgins and Paul Marsh scored their worst result today, a ninth, but were able to maintain their third place overall of yesterday to finish the SAP 505 World Championship in third place.

Going into the final race, the Germans held a three-point advantage over Holt and Smit with a drop in place. Both pairs knew what they had to do to claim the crown. And while Howard Hamlin and Andy Zinn (USA) led the race early on, and won the race by a country mile, all eyes were glued to the top two.

Hunger and Kleiner, lighter in weight than their foes, were hoping for medium to light airs, while Holt said "bring on the big breeze."

When the remaining 69 of the 87-boat fleet hit the water, winds were 15 plus knots and a front came through just as Kevin Wilson and his crew were about to start the race. Wilson abandoned at the last moment and waited out the front.

There were big lulls at some marks and up to 20 knots at others, but mostly it was around 12-15 in between - so conditions were not clear cut.

Hunger said, "We got a very good start and tacked on Michael (Holt) but we did it too late, so we went around in the top three at the first mark. From there, we were in front of them, then they were in front of us and so on."

As the race wore on, Hamlin and Zinn extended, then there was Holt, the "fast Danes" Jan Saugmann and Morten Ramsbaek (the 2007 505 World's winners) and Hunger with a group in tow. Positions were changing depending on the tactics employed, but not by much.

The gaps were quite big between the top four, but the latter three compressed down the last run and there was not enough breeze and no competitors in their midst for Holt and Smit to make any inroads.

The rest of the fleet were so far behind the top four, it was almost as if they were in a different race. Holt needed to put four boats between him and Hunger and while there were chances early on, all that changed. So up the final beat, Holt and Smit tried to sail the Germans back into the fleet. It had its effect, but a bit late.

Holt pinned Hunger, who was getting frustrated, as tack upon tack ensued almost the whole way to the finish line.

In the process, the fast Danes sailed through to second behind Hamilin and Zinn, America's Cup sailors Luke Molloy and Jim Turner were an impressive third having been out of small boats for a while, Hunger and Kleiner were sixth and Holt and Smit seventh - just seconds between them after Hunger finally escaped the clutches of Holt.

Hunger said ashore this afternoon, "We were in a good position early, but we were stuck with a group and the three in front of us were sailing in clean air."

Kleiner breaks in, "We just got on a wave and surfed away a bit and then more waves came and we surfed away from the pack and started to catch up with the Danish and Mike. We were on the reach and we looked behind, and those boats were still under spinnaker."

Hunger was not impressed with Holt's tactics up the final beat "I don't understand wanting to win so much. I don't do this to win; I sail always to see what more I can get out of the boat and do with the boat; that is what is important to me."

For Holt, his and Smit's ambitions were cut and dried, "The game plan was to win the race and to win the Worlds. When we saw the situation as it developed, we tried to sail him back into the fleet, because we knew we couldn't catch Howie (Hamlin).

"We raced a good regatta, but they (the Germans) were better,"
Holt acknowledged.

"Today we didn't sail as fast, but we sailed well, although we were a bit conservative. We were hoping for more breeze," Smit said.

The best placed woman in the fleet was Meike Schomäker with crew Holger Jess, the German 505 supplier. Jess previously won the 505 Worlds with Hunger in 2005, 2003 and 2001.

The SAP 505 World Championship was a shortened seven-race series. Race Officer Kevin Wilson had to abandon racing for three days after the opening day, because of exceptionally heavy winds and big seas accompanied by incessant downpours of rain that only stopped shortly after the final race started today.

Hamilton Island was not at its weather-best, normally it is sunshine and more sunshine and great breezes. At least we got some good breeze and the Island hospitality was at its usual best.

The 2012 SAP 505 World Championship will be held in La Rochelle, France, from 17-27 July.

Top 5 Final Standings

1. Wolfgang Hunger and Julien Kleiner (GER) 1-1-3-(15)-4-2-6 17points
2. Michael Holt and Carl Smit (USA) 3-6-1-3-6-1-(7) 20points
3. Sandy Higgins and Paul Marsh (AUS) 2-7-5-1-3-7-(9) 25points
4. Howard Hamlin and Andy Zinn (USA) 4-(10)-6-4-8-3-1 26points
5. Luke Molloy and Jim Turner (GBR) 14-11-2-5-5-(86DNF)-3 40points

Di Pearson
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