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25 June 2007, 12:05 pm
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Zwitserleven Round Texel Race 2007
Den Burg, Texel, Netherlands

On Saturday the Nissan Pro Team of Darren BUNDOCK and Glenn ASHBY (AUS) won the 30th Zwitserleven Round Texel Race on handicap. The Aussies started with their F18 Hobie Tiger as the furthest boat on the right and immediately grabbed the lead on elapsed time.
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The experimental Dutch M20's of Xander POLS and Tjiddo VEENSTRA and Herbert DERCKSEN and Aaron MCINTOSH (NED) battled for the line honours. Thanks to the bigger sail plan of Performance Sails, POLS and VEENSTRA had a speed advantage. They were streets ahead when they crossed the finish line after 3 hours, 16 minutes and 34 seconds. The jubilee edition was sailed in favourable conditions with a -10 knot southwesterly 7 and a calm sea. At 13:00 local time, the fleet put up a great show with a spinnaker start. It was unexpectedly sunny and thousands of visitors enjoyed the spectacle.

'Finally, a dream comes true,' said a happy POLS after hitting the beach. 'I finished second twice and now we succeeded.' At the light house in the north of the island, the Repeat M20 of Jean-Louis FLIER and Peter VAN DEVENTER was leading the pack. POLS explained, 'They started low on the line and could sail straight to the gate at the light house. We had to jibe once, but Jean-Louis missed the second gate and had to sail back. That is where we caught up a little on them.'

The front runners reached the Wadden Sea too early. Due to the shallow water, their rudders came up a couple of times. The Zwitserleven VX20 of DERCKSEN and MCINTOSH was sixth at the light house. MCINTOSH recounted, 'We had a slow start, because of a bad spinnaker hoist. We fought our way to the top and closed the gap with Xander several times.'

That happened for the first time at the VC-mark before Oudeschild. At that point, the difference was only 8 seconds. In the end, POLS and VEENSTRA extended their lead to 6 minutes. POLS said, 'The wind decreased on the Wadden Sea, so we could extend our lead on Herbert.'

After the first celebrations on the Texel beach, VEENSTRA's face beamed, 'My first Round Texel Race was 15 years ago. We had a collision and did not finish. This time we took the line honours.' The 20-foot Eagle of Jaap STRAAKENBROEK and Menno VERCOUTEREN finished third.

F18s Dominate On Handicap

The three Hobie Tiger Nissan Pro Teams showed a spectacular spinnaker start at the right side of the course, close to the shore. They smoked to the light house, with BUNDOCK and ASHBY in the lead. The red Yamaha - Boskalis Nacra Infusion of Mischa HEEMSKERK and Bastiaan TENTIJ (NED) found a gap just above them.

Fate hit Team ZwitserLeven of Mitch BOOTH and Pim NIEUWENHUIS (NED) seconds after the start. While hoisting the spinnaker the halyard got jammed at the top of the mast. BOOTH explained, 'Our only option was to capsize the boat, meaning that our Round Texel was finished after 30 seconds.'

BUNDOCK, overall winner in 2003, and ASHBY arrived second at the lighthouse. BUNDOCK said, 'We won the race at the start, after that it was a matter of defending the other F18s. We did not want them to get closer to the island, because there was more breeze. In the meantime, we were able to increase our lead.' They convincingly took the overall victory on handicap, the first one for ASHBY. He said, 'It is great to win this challenging race. Many good sailors participated, so I am really pleased to have won.'

According to TENTIJ they lacked a little speed on the Wadden Sea, to catch up with the Aussies. At 'Oudeschild', Jean-Christophe MOURNIAC (FRA) passed them as well. The French Nissan team of MOURNIAC and Franck CITEAU made their first appearance this year in the ZwitserLeven Round Texel. Only in the last leg to the finish, the French lost their position to HEEMSKERK and TENTIJ. MOURNIAC and CITEAU finished third overall. MOURNIAC said, 'We are very pleased with our result. On the Wadden Sea, we run aground twice, which cost us three or four places. We were able to recover this on the way to 'Oudeschild', but in the end, Mischa had more speed.' Eventually, the F18s occupied the first seven positions of the overall rating.

A Great End

In the meantime, all competitors arrived back at 'Paal 17' and the preparations for the festive prizegiving ceremony had already started. Race Director Jaap TIRION was delighted about the jubilee race, 'I am very pleased with the beautiful sailing conditions of today. Because of this, we can leave the sometimes stormy Rounds, with a lot of damage, behind us. The tone is set for the coming 30 years.' From the 503 catamarans, 492 made it across the finish line.

Diana Bogaards (As Amended By ISAF). Image, Darren BUNDOCK and Glenn ASHBY:© Pierrick Contin
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