A superb Landcorp 2011 Mirror World Championships went down to the wire in Albany, Australia.
With only 5.2 points separating the top two boats, the final day started with an air of expectation with the dinghy park buzzing about the forthcoming battle to determine the World Champion.
Throughout the regatta, the fight for the Championship had been between the British girls Millie Newman and Jessica Rust and the Irish team of Ross Kearney and Max Odell. Thirteen proved to be an unlucky number for the girls though, as a disqualification in the thirteenth race put Ridgely Balladares and Rommel Chavez (PHI) in the Championship hunt too.
Lively conditions greeted the competitors for the final day as they had done through out the event.
Race 14 got, of the fifteen race Championship, got underway with the Black Flag, which was a common theme during this tense Championship. After the restart it Australian mother and son team Anita Scott-Murphy and Ben Cruse who rounded the top mark first followed by Australians Lachlan and Finn Gilbert with the regatta leaders, Irishman Ross Kearney and team mate Max Odell in close pursuit.
A great run down to the gate saw Scott-Murphy and Cruse flying, leading out to the right followed by the Gilberts with Kearney working hard in third.
Scott-Murphy then lost their lead to the Gilberts who established a commanding lead and went on to win but in third place was Kearney and Odell who now had one hand on the World Championship. For Millie Newman and Jessica Rust who had lead the regatta at the mid way mark all seemed to be slipping away from them but they showed grit and determination to sail back into 6th position after being buried early on in the race. Another solid performance from Balladares and Chavez produced a fourth place.
The fifteenth and final belonged to the Gilberts who had a great pin end start to lead the race from begining to end. Kearney and Odell had a poorer start and were eight round the first mark with the GBR girls again buried in the chasing pack in the mid-teens.
The Gilberts extended their lead to 40 boat length at the gate and went to the right hand side of the course with Balladares and Chavez. Some excellent sailing by Kearney and Odell saw them sail up the pack to round the gate in third place looking every bit World Champions.
At the end it was the Gilberts who won the final race with a convincing 40 boat length but the glory went to Ross Kearney and Max Odell who claimed second place and took the World title crown to the cheers of celebration from the large spectator fleet.
Balladares and Chavez finished the last race in fifth place to take silver and Newman and Rust took the bronze position.
Ross Kearney and Max Odell (IRL) 38.6
Ridgely Balladares and Rommel Chavez (PHI) 52
Millie Newman and Jessica Rust (GBR) 54
Ryan and Ricky Robinson (RSA) 67
Lachlan and Finn Gilbert (AUS) 68
Follow the event blog and results at http://www.mirrorworlds2011.com/
and some great shots of Mirror crews tackling some big breezes at http://www.flickr.com/photos/mirrorworlds2011/