New Zealand's Paulien EITJES was crowned champion at the 2007Homerus Match Racing Championships in Palermo, Italy
The light conditions experienced throughout the regatta continued on the final day of racing at the Homerus Blind Match Racing Championships. On day four the committee continued to race competitors within their allotted round robin groups to be able to reach a semi-final group. Storm cells hung low on the mountains threatening to delay proceedings as races were started in a light consistent 5 knot breeze from the northeast.
After three flights a semi final group emerged with matches to be raced between the winners of group 1 and 2, Luigi BERTANZA (ITA) lined up against the young Etiam ISARAELI (ISR), and Paulien EITJES (NZL) against Hurtado ROSER (SPN). BERTANZA, ranked first, had not lost a flight so far in the regatta, however the Israeli team had tactically outwitted his opponents in races so far. EITJES, a newcomer to match racing, was ready to meet ROSER, also new to the game.
Light rain dotted the bay and the course was changed to face the southwest before BERTANAZA met ISRAELI. In two races BERTANZA 'Gigi' and ISRAELI both had excellent boat handling in the light conditions, however Gigi had the tactical advantage, as he controlled his opponent from the right hand side of the course, going upwind to finish ahead in both races. In the semi-finals between EITJES and ROSER, EITJES had the tactical advantages in both races and sailed a shorter course to finish ahead.
As EIJTES and Gigi met each other in the final the sun was just about to go behind the mountains. With each competitor only able to locate their opponent by the sound signals on the bow of each boat (one sound for port another for starboard), the orientation and boat handling skills of each team were at their finest. Gigi led for the first two legs by two boatlengths with slightly better boatspeed to cover his opponent. However on the last windward leg was slightly wide at the top mark and EITJES coming in on port was able to get inside to round the mark ahead and maintain the lead to the finish.
A final match between ISRAELI and ROSER decided the third and fourth places, with Israeli covering his opponent well right to the finish.
It was a triumphant moment to EITJES, a newcomer to match racing, whom sailed with her Italian crew (Fillipa TOLARO) for the first time one day before the championships began. The Homerus system of beeping buoys gives sailors classified B1 or B2 - legally Blind - the ability to sail independently, an awe-inspiring championships for competitors to sail in and for observers to watch. The 2008 Homerus Match Racing Championships will be held in Venice in mid-September.
Homerus Match Racing Championships - www.homerus.it