Team New Zealand successfully defended their ISAF Team Racing World title here today on Lake Brno, in the Czech Republic.
The crucial heat for them was Heat 160 against overnight leaders USA2. The organisers had opted to try for an 07:00 start to try to complete the Round Robin series giving every team a heat against every other. NZL and USA2 were the leading two teams going into Heat 160, and with the wind looking light again both teams knew only too well the significance of this heat, given that the there could well not be enough wind to complete any type of finals.
There was some frantic tacking up the first beat USA rounded the first mark in the combination 2,3,4. As they approached the second mark the leading NZL boat luffed up to slow the USA boats down, and give their team mates a chance to close the gap. On the downwind to mark three with some excellent boat speed the leading USA boat squeezed through to first, and made a slow mark rounding to hold up NZL in second position, who in turn held in the second USA boat in third position. Along the reach to mark 4 USA were in the winning combination of 1,3 and 5. The NZL boat in sixth position infringed the USA boat in fifth position towards the end of the reach, and took a 360 degree turn. As they rounded mark four, the leading boat of the experienced USA team tacked to cover and slow NZL letting their third place boat through to second. So USA were placed 1,2 and 5 at the bottom of the beat to the finish. It wasn't looking good for NZL.
There then ensued a titanic tacking battle up the last beat between the two teams, in an extremely light wind that was decreasing all the time it was hard on the nerves. Both teams protested the other for Rule 42 pumping, but both teams were given the green flag by the on the water umpires. In an awesome display of extreme light wind sailing NZL managed to break cover on both of the leading USA boats and came through to take a 1,2 and 5 win that would decide the championship. There was real disappointment for the USA team who had sailed superbly thoughout the championship, especially since the result replicated the one in Ireland in 1999 with NZL beating them in the finals.
The Round Robin, 171 races in total, was successfully completed later in the afternoon for all the teams. The results were then calculated from the Round Robin. Ties on an equal number of wins as was the case with NZL and USA2, with 16 wins from eighteen heats each, and also for third position between GBR1 and USA1, with 15 wins from 18 heats each are intially broken on who beat who when those teams sailed each other. So first was New Zealand, second USA2 and in third position finished team GBR1.
Congratulations to Team New Zealand. The event was again a big success thanks to the great organisation, and the main sponsor Nextra, and we look forward to seeing all the teams and more, in February, in New Zealand for the 2003 ISAF Team Racing World Championships.
Members of the first, second and third placed teams were:
1. NZL Derry Godbert, Karen Lambert, Josh Gailbraith, Andrew Arden, Andrew Murdoch, Hamish Murdoch, Jeffery Clark.
2. USA 2 Timothy Fallon, Timothy Wadlow, Graeme Woodworth, Karen Renzulli, Erin Largay, Leigh Woodworth.
3. GBR 1 Stuart Hudson, Steve Tylecote, Dominic Johnston, Amy Smith, Sally Cuthbert, Debs Kershaw.
For heat by heat results, wins and losses data and more photographs and news go to the event website.