Olympic gold medallists Fernando Leon and Luis Doreste showed their star quality today in winning their respective divisions in the Rolex IMS Offshore World Championship 2001 in Valencia.
Both skippers had put themselves under pressure following bad results in the middle of the week. A disqualification in race 2 when Doreste sailed Telepizza-Pepsi over the line before the start gun meant he could afford no further mistakes. It was a similar situation for Leon after a snapped mainsail halyard forced the Farr 51 Cam out of race 4.
But in the end it was a comfortable victory for both Spanish teams. Leon had just edged into the lead overnight after winning the second race in Saturday's strong winds. His closest rival, the IMX-40 Telefonica Movistar, was involved in a collision and also snapped her vang.
This meant that Leon and Pedro Campos, the IMX-40's helmsman, went into today's last race almost neck-and-neck for the lead in Class A. Starting in a 12-knot breeze, Cam soon edged out into a comfortable position ahead of the marauding pack of 50-footers. Telefonica Movistar was also sailing well, but the wind started to drop out, playing into the hands of the bigger Cam.
It turned out to be Leon's most significant victory, winning on IMS corrected time by 56 seconds from a tightly-packed trio of 50-footers headed by Caixa Galicia. For Campos, the race was a disaster and he finished 11th, helpless in the failing breeze.
Life in Class B became more simple for Telepizza-Pepsi following a measurement issue with Salty Dog, the IMX-40 which had dominated the small boat division since her victory in the offshore race. A routine measurement check turned into a nightmare for skipper Jochem Visser.
The Spanish IMS measurer found the boat did not comply with her rating certificate and under IMS regulations 50 per cent was added to all of Salty Dog's race scores. In an instant the Dutch team found themselves dropped from a comfortable lead to 24th overall.
Visser admitted he could not quite believe what had happened. "We had the boat measured and checked by an IMS measurer in Germany, so we don't know what we have done wrong." With no appeal procedure open to Visser, the former Admiral's Cup winner decided not to compete in the final race today.
This left the way clear for a Telepizza-Pepsi, although with her disqualification in race 2 the Sinergia 40 could certainly not afford any hiccups. In the end Doreste sailed a solid race to finish fifth on corrected time, and take Class B by 11.75 points from an Italian IMX-40, Sandro Pantaleo's Wind-Exploit.
With King Juan Carlos of Spain back at the helm of the Farr 53 Bribon for the last three races, media interest has been intense over the past two days. It has not been a successful week for the King's boat, but he will no doubt be pleased that Spanish teams eventually won both classes after there had been a danger at one point in the week of home teams leaving Valencia empty handed.
Fernando Leon and Luis Doreste went up to receive their trophies and Rolex Rolesium Yacht-Master timepiece this afternoon at the prizegiving outside the Real Club Nautico de Valencia.
This was the third Rolex IMS Offshore World Championship to have taken place, following the inaugural event in Sardinia in 1999 and Newport in 2000. With 64 entries, this has been the best-attended and arguably the most competitive regatta yet seen.
Final Results overall
Posn/ Boat name/ Boat type/ Skipper/ Owner/ Country/ Points
1. Cam/ Farr 51/ Fernando Leon/ Fernando Leon/ Spain/ 17
2. Telefonica Movistar/ IMX-40/ Pedro Campos/ Pedro Campos/ Spain/ 25.75
3. Brava Q8/ Farr 49/ Flavio Favini/ Pasquale Landolfi/ Italy/ 31
1. Telepizza-Pepsi/ Sinergia 40/ Luis Doreste/ Sociedad Esponsor/ Spain/ 17.25
2. Wind-Exploit/ IMX-40/ Lorenzo Bressani/ Sandro Pantaleo/ Italy/ 29
3. Ads Glen/ IMX-40/ Gabriele Benussi/ Canalaz Nadia/ Italy/ 33.50