At the Aruba Heineken Catamaran Regatta on Thursday Emmanuel Dodé and Fred Moreau from France won the 2009 Dart 18 World title with one race to spare.
The French team are the true champions with seven bullets and two seconds. A crack in the back beam almost put an end to their attempt to prolong their title. However, the strong French team spirit brought them quickly back to the Caribbean Sea to finish the job. The British duo David Lloyd and Joanna Jones-Pierce will bring a silver medal home, but the battle for bronze is still on. The Pols brothers won the Aruba Heineken Catamaran Regatta 2009.
"Nobody has ever won the Dart 18 World Title twice in a row, so that was my goal for this year", says Dodé cheerfully. "And it was the French team that made it happen, as everybody helped us solving the problem with the boat." Just after the lunch, the Atol Sailing Team discovered a crack in the back beam of their 29 year old Dart 18. That was a serious threat to their championship with three races to go. Dodé: "The minute I saw it, I only thought 'action'. Thierry organized a spare beam from a local Dart 18 and others started dissembling the platform. It was like a Formula 1 pit stop. Thanks to all the assistance, we could finish the competition. We capsized on our way to the start, but we managed to be there 1,5 minute before the gun." And the champions took that bullet in style and also today's last one. "The work is done, so we will party tonight and pack the boat away tomorrow", commented the delighted sailors.
'Disappointing silver medal'
"We are not happy with silver", is Lloyd's clear answer to the question about their result. "We have had a fabulous season so far. We won the Dutch, Belgian and UK Inland Nationals with one race to spare and now we are second. It is my fifth podium finish in a row, but I still miss a first position. Joanna also took two silver medals before, so I really wanted to win here." According to Lloyd, the incredible upwind speed of the French winners made the biggest difference: "Even if they went the wrong way, we struggled to hold them." However, the breakage of the French beam could have been an interesting turning-point. Jones-Pierce: "I thought, we will find out what kind of sailor Emmanuel is. Whether he would give in to the pressure or not, but he still won the race. His head is there, he is a true champion."
Exciting battle for bronze
The top two spots are taken, but the third podium position is still available for four teams. The second worst result may be discarded after ten races. The Germans Matthias Huber and Dominik Volke are still in third place overall, despite the broken harp of the mainsail block in the last race. Huber: "It is going to be exciting tomorrow. We would be very happy with a medal, as our position is a surprise to us. The weather forecast shows less breeze, so that will be interesting." Nicolette van Gorp and Ruud van Gisbergen (NED) had a good day with a 3-2-6 in the Zwitserleven races. They are currently in fifth place, after their fellow countrymen Ruud Goudriaan and Bart Damen. Van Gorp: "I hoped that we would perform well, but this is above expectation. Bronze would be outstanding." According to Van Gisbergen, it paid to go through the middle today: "The gusts were strong in the middle of the course and we put in a few tacks." The fourth favorite for bronze is Thierry Wibaux from France, who carries a big discard (22) from yesterday. Wibaux: "It is a tight competition, so tomorrow we have to start at full speed and sprint to the finish."
Aruba Heineken Catamaran Regatta
"We had a race in a race today", said Xander Pols. He and his brother Marc Pols easily won the Aruba Heineken Catamaran Regatta this week. They simply win every race with their F18 Nacra Infusion. However, today they made their own contest. Xander Pols: "We said to Klaus Rocholl and Christian Goecke: 'Forget about the rating and let's battle it out on the course." That is how the German Tornado duo got fired up and gave the Dutch sailors a good fight.
Marc Pols: "We were board to board all the time and they passed us a few times. At the finish, they were only about twenty seconds behind us. That was great." Despite the lack of competition, Pols enjoyed this week's sailing very much: "It was spectacular racing and our boat handling was fast. I think the strong breeze was an advantage for us, as we can manage these conditions pretty well." The Dutch F18 sailors John Moret and Paul Smissaert stayed upright today and climbed back to second position overall. Leo Ambtman and Maarten Kroon dropped to the third place.
In addition to the title sponsors Aruba Tourism Authority and Heineken Aruba NV, this year's Aruba Heineken Catamaran Regatta and Dart18 World Championships are also supported by Martinair, GILS Worldwide, Setar, Holiday Inn, Does & Cadushi, Tropical Bottling Company, Coca Cola, AWA, Aruba Aloë, VR Shipping, Aruba Watersports Center, Palm Tours, Pelican Watersports, Seaworld Explorer, Moomba, Zwitserleven, TNG, Patria and AMI Kappers.