Canadian entry Gallant took out top honours in the Classic division as the 2009 Six Metre World Cup reached its conclusion in Newport, Rhode Island, USA over the weekend.
Over five days, from 8-12 September, competitors at the 2009 Six Metre World Cup encountered every condition that Narragansett Bay could serve up, and then some. The sunshine and light air that opened the regatta on day one yielded to heavy winds and leaden skies for the balance of the series. On the penultimate day of the championship, during the second race of the day, visibility shut down to less than 100 yards when driving rain squalls went through the course. While two races were run for each division, wind readings of 25 knots eliminated plans to run any additional races. The final day of the series was a light air chase in low visibility courtesy of the stalled low pressure system that generated frequent heavy downpours.
1992 Star Olympic bronze medallist Eric Jespersen (CAN), aboard Gallant, won the 24-boat Classic division with very consistent sailing. Leading since day two of the series, Gallant posted finishes of 3, 1 4 (5), 2, 2, 3 to earn 15 points, with Johan Garkman and Peter Astrand's Fridolin (FIN) second overall, five points back. Great Dane (DEN), skippered by Erik Tingleff Larsen, was third overall with 26 points, followed by Andy Postle and Brian Pope's Titia (GBR) with 27, and Goose, skippered by Peter Hofmann (USA) with 30 points.
"I sailed two previous Six Metre Worlds - 1979 and 1985 - both as crew," said Jespersen who is a boat builder. "My Six Metre career restarted in about 2000 when we rebuilt Buzzy III. So I started thinking about it again and we bought a wreck and rebuilt it. This boat is not known to be a good Six Metre, but we fixed it up best we could and got it sorted out to the point where we do well out west. The goal all along was to come here to Newport to meet the Europeans. We were lucky enough to have a good race on the first day and then a good race on the second day. We hung in there. Today we had a strong challenge from the British and the Finns and we were able to sail a nice clean race and get third and that was enough to clinch the championship. I'm not wealthy enough to go to every World Championship, but it was such a perfect window of opportunity with my son Ross, 15, and my dad, Bent, to be able to sail together with friends Rob Carlow and Dave Richardson (Victoria B.C. ), it wasn't to be denied. My dad at 73 - to see him as a world champion is truly priceless. I'm a dreamer, and a lot of people think a dreamer is bad, but I found being a dreamer to be very rewarding."
In the 10-boat Modern division, all was set for a duel between Scoundrel, driven by Rob Gray (GBR), and Sophie II, with New York native Hugo Stenbeck (SWE) at the helm, who were tied or within a point of each other for much of the series. At the end of the penultimate day of racing, a DSQ picked up by Sophie II looked like it might be her undoing. However, even a first-place by Scoundrel in the final race of the series was not enough to win her the championship. Tied with 17 points each, Sophie II won by having two second-place finishes to Scoundrel's one, as each had won three races. Third overall in the division, was Bob Cadranell (Seattle, Wash.) on Arunga with 23 points, followed by Patric Fredell's May Be XIV (SWE) at 24 points, and Robert Leigh-Wood's Lyonesse (GBR) with 29.
"This is the first World Championship I've ever sailed in any class," said Stenbeck. "By the skin of our teeth we managed to stay ahead of a very experienced group that we never thought we would be able to compete with." Stenbeck's crew included Lars Linger (SWE), Jonas Haggbom (SWE), Brendan McCoy (USA) and 1993 Rolex Yachtsman of the Year Cam Lewis (USA), who was sailing his first regatta with this team.
Among the fleet of Sixes, which represented 10 countries (Bermuda, Canada, Finland, France, Denmark, Germany, Great Britain, New Zealand, Sweden and the United States), one of the highlights was the participation of Scout, which was brought from New Zealand by Martin Farrand.
"The main reason for coming up here is the Scout turns 100 this year and I always wondered what I would do to celebrate her centenary," said Farrand. "When I saw advertised that the World Cup was on in Newport, Rhode Island, I thought that's a good way to celebrate. She was assumedly built as a Six Metre and launched in 1909, so I had that checked by the measurers and they said yep she measures, so it was game on from there on and that was about two years ago. We didn't come last [finishing 20th overall] and that's a bonus when you're the oldest boat. I did sail on her when I was a teenager and I always liked her. She sort of found me again and she's just a lovely boat to sail. The sixes all are I'm sure, she's just different, being older."
Results - click here
Racing resumes on Thursday 10 September and continues through until Saturday 12 September.
Organized by Sail Newport, and held on the grounds of the Museum of Yachting, the 2009 Six Metre World Cup is presented by Rums of Puerto Rico and The Puerto Rico Tourism Company. Supporting sponsors and partners include: A.T. Cross, Crystal Springs Water, Harbor Town Wine of New Zealand, Narragansett Beer, Newport Harbor Corporation, Newport Shipyard, Quantum Newport, Peters & May Logistics, Sweenor's Chocolates, Walenius Wilhelmsen Logistics and Z Blok. For complete scores, photos and more information, please visit www.6metreworldcup.com.