Dutchmen Eduard ZANEN and Mischa HEEMSKERK claimed victory at the 17th Aruba Heineken Catamaran Regatta after a dramatic final day.
On Thursday morning, three possible winning crews sailed off Palm Beach for the final race of the 17th Aruba Heineken Catamaran Regatta. After a long course with three sausages and two triangles, Eduard ZANEN and Mischa HEEMSKERK (NED) took the bullet and the overall victory. Gunnar LARSEN and Bastiaan TENTIJ (NED) managed to finish third just one spot ahead of Wouter SAMAMA and Sam FRANK (NED). Both teams are tied on points, but LARSEN and TENTIJ became second overall on count back. Manfred THOMASCH and Henk HANKART (AUT) won in the small class of slower catamarans.
KLM Race 10 - 'Safe sailing' brings victory
"You will race on a course that has everything in it",
said organizer Edwin LODDER Thursday morning at the briefing. He looked at the top teams and smiled: "Reaching, sausages and counting laps."
The wind was about force 5, so cautious racing was important. After the starting gun, the fleet was smoking upwind. Grant PIGGOTT (replacing William SUNNUCKS, who had to leave early) and Simon FARREN were first at the windward mark. ZANEN and HEEMSKERK were fourth, but on the run they overtook two boats. PIGGOTT: "In the second beat, they went far into the right corner and passed us."
The British were close behind the Dutchmen, who extended their lead in every downwind. ZANEN: "We sailed safely, which is easier if you are leading."
According to HEEMSKERK, they had a good preparation before the start and tried to stay calm: "We knew the pressure was on the top three teams. This morning, we said to each other that our event was already successful, so let's enjoy this last race and sail smoothly. We won with a considerable lead."
That made them the winners of the Aruba Heineken Catamaran Regatta 2007. ZANEN, who became second in 2005 on a Tornado: "It was good fun to sail the F18. It was the first time with such a strong battle and I have learned so much from boat to boat situations. Mischa is a great coach."
LARSEN and TENTIJ had a mission on Thursday. They wanted another colour than bronze. The boys rounded the upwind mark in third position and gained one spot on the run. LARSEN: "Grant passed us in the second beat and we had two options: trying to overtake Mischa or covering Wouter. We picked the last one and finished third. We are happy with that result. We climbed to a second position overall."
SAMAMA and FRANK had an unfortunate start, being rolled by somebody reaching lower. SAMAMA: "That ruined our first beat, which was a pity. We could catch up on Gunnar, but it was not enough. Mischa and Eduard sailed a great race, so they are the true winners. But I am happy with a third place overall and it has been a fantastic racing week."
HEEMSKERK agreed: "I think everybody enjoyed the close competition and it was nice to watch the fleet interacting with each other. The atmosphere was perfect. It all gives sailing in the Caribbean the ultimate kick. Oolaalaa!"
Unbeaten To The Top
This year's class of slower catamarans (eight entries) was dominated by good old participant Manfred THOMASCH from Austria and Henk HANKART from Aruba. They took all ten bullets with their Dart 18. HANKART: "The conditions were excellent, so we did enjoy the sailing. Last year, we had competition from more and very good Dart 18 teams. Without them around, it was easier to win these series."
THOMASCH's favourite race was Wednesday's long distance: "That was a classic one, just perfect."
Aruba Heineken Catamaran Regatta - www.arubaregatta.com