The British Gill Race Team of Craig Burlton, Adam Healley and Stephen White were crowned 2009 Laser SB3 World Champions after a tight and exhilarating finish in Cascais, Portugal.
The normal dockside banter was missing on Friday morning in Cascais on the final day of the Laser SB3 World Championships. The lack of chit chat clearly displayed a degree of focus and preparation amongst the crews in anticipation of the final day of racing.
The Race Committee selected race course B for the final two races of the championships, perhaps to the disappointment of some the fleet following Thursday's epic day on race course A. Course B lacks course A's rolling swell and has, in previous days provided patchy wind conditions.
The fleet lined up for the first start of the day but were promptly recalled with at least 20 boats over the start line with 15 seconds to the gun. The black flag was raised for the second attempt and the desired effect achieved with a clear start and no disqualifications in 14 knots of breeze.
Those starting at the pin end of the line benefitted immediately as the wind flicked left just before the start. Those that were caught in the cluster at the committee boat suffered.
Pelican Racing had the best start of their championship and remained with the leading pack at the windward mark. Mike Budd rounded the top of the course in first position followed by John Pollard and Marshall King. The right hand side of the downwind leg benefitted and those that gybed early lost out. By the leeward mark Budd, Pollard and King had extended their lead and set off for the re-positioned windward mark at pace. Again, Budd lead the charge and eventually won the race with a credible lead having stood on when Pollard and King gybed for the final downwind mark. Between these three pack leaders, there was a 90 second gap between the next boats arriving at the mark.
After the end of race one, the race committee promptly called the fleet back to the line and raised the preparatory signal to start the final race of the 2009 Laser SB3 World Championships. The wind had increased to a fresh 18 knots by this point and Robert Gullan won the start at the pin end onboard Sun Microsystems.
As the fleet approached the windward mark, there was no sign of Burlton. Was this going to be Jacobs and Hudson's and the crew on Spirit of Cape Town's moment to attack for the Championship title?
David Cummins onboard Rumbleflurg lead to the windward mark with David Hudson hot on his heels. Sarah Allan rounded in third position and Guy Jackson in fourth. Burlton rounded way down the fleet in at least 25th position and had his work cut out to pick off the fleet and ensure the Jacobs and Hudson duo didn't extend their lead any further and put an end to Gill Race Team's World Championship dream.
At the final windward mark, Jacobs and Hudson were the only boat to gybe to the left hand side of the course and set off for the leeward gate alone. A brave decision as Burlton was in hot pursuit. From the middle of the race course, it was had to judge if Burlton had recovered enough. An anxious time for all.
David Hudson took the final bullet of the Championship, with David Cummins in second and Sarah Allan in third. Where would Spirit of Cape Town finish? Had Gill Race Team recovered enough?
Gill Race Team crossed the line in 13th position, unlucky for some, but they were well aware that they had just won the World Championships! Clenched fists were punched into the air. A clearly emotional, and utterly exhausted Burlton staggered onto the dock this evening as the new World Champion of the Laser SB3 Class. Gill Race Team gave a consistently excellent performance and are worthy winners. Congratulations Craig, AB and Adam.
Results - click here