For the final day of racing at the Blind Worlds contested on Narragansett Bay, a dying north easterly briefly kept competitors ashore at New York Yacht Club's clubhouse, Harbour Court as clouds conspired to delay the hoped for sea breeze. Faced with a 500 metre exclusion zone around two cruise ships anchored close to the preferred race area, and flooding tide until late morning, race organizers sent the teams north of the Newport Bridge and, ultimately, three races were successfully completed in a light east south easterly.
New Zealand was presented The Squadron Cup that rewards the team with the best overall performance across the three divisions: blind (B1), visually impaired (B2) and least visually impaired (B3). For more on the vision classification CLICK HERE.
Thomas JOHANNESEN, Jostein STENEVIK, Stian SOLTVEDT and Jon LYSTRUP - Norway's 2002 B1 World silver medallists - finished the 2006 IFDS Blind Sailing World Championship as they had begun it - by winning. After four races on the opening day of the championship, the Norwegians were placed second overall after losing the tiebreaker with USA-Massachusetts. A sixth place finish on day two briefly saw them third in the overall scoring before a discard kicked in with the completion of additional races. Winning two races on the penultimate day of the series gave them a single point lead over New Zealand's Rob AISLABIE, Dave ALLERTON, Wayne HOLDT, and Simon HOLDT as racing began for the final day of the series.
|New Zealand won B2
© Dan NERNEY
|New Zealand won the Squadron Cup
© Michael LEVITT
|B1 winner Norway
© Dan NERNEY
|B3 winner USA-Florida
© Dan NERNEY
Finishes of 2,1,1 won Norway their spot in the record books as the first recipient of the Colin Spanhake Trophy, which honours the New Zealander who established Blind Sailing International in the mid 1980s and who passed away in 2004. The trophy is awarded to the winning team in the blind (B1) division. USA-Massachusetts, with skipper Sengil INKIALA, Deborah KEATING, and visual aides Ken LEGLER and Lisa O'CONNOR won the bronze medal.
New Zealand skipper Paulien EITJES with Dick LANCASTER and sighted crew Gary SMITH and Scott BURLING rightfully claimed the 2006 IFDS B2 Blind Sailing World Championship title after leading their division throughout the contest. The Kiwis were pressed hard by Great Britain's 2002 B2 World bronze medallists - skipper Lucy HODGES, visually impaired crew John SIMPSON and sighted guides Chris SINCLAIR and Gary BUTLER - who were effective in keeping the point spread close.
With wins in three of four races on the penultimate day, New Zealand improved on their position and successfully closed the deal by winning the last two races of the series for a final score of 18 points to Great Britain's 27. The USA-Massachusetts team led by Matt CHAO with visually impaired crew Nina KAGAN, and sighted guides Bill RAPP and Peter FRISCH, took the bronze medal with 40 points.
The USA-Florida team helmed by 2000 Sonar Paralympic bronze medallist Jean-Paul CREIGNOU claimed the B3 division lead on the opening day of the championship series and never relinquished it. With visually impaired crew Jan BARTLESON, and sighted guides Colin PARK and Patty FORRESTEL, CREIGNOU steered the team to win seven out of eleven races to effect a twelve point lead over Great Britain as the racers took to the waters of Narragansett Bay for the final day of the competition in Sail Newport's fleet of J/22s. USA-Florida claimed the championship crown with the addition of three first place finishes to their scoreline, giving them a 19 point margin over the defending champions, Great Britain led by skipper Gary KIRBY, with visually impaired crew Toby DAVEY, and sighted guides Martin MOODY and Ian SHIRRA.
Great Britain successfully held off New Zealand's Eddie MOREE, visually impaired crew Shannon LESLIE, and sighted guides Brian TRUBOVICH and Tony POOLMAN, who had come within a single point of overtaking after they won two races on the penultimate day of the championship.
'It is pretty amazing, especially here in Newport, at this venue, the NYYC, it is very special,' said CREIGNOU on winning the World Championship. 'We really had a group of people who work well together and were on the same page and we had a good time together. Having the right combination of people is very important and of course everybody worked really hard. It all came together.'
The vision classification of the skipper determines in which division each four person team is competing with the totally blind B1s and the vision impaired B2s racing New York Yacht Club's fleet of 23' Sonars, and the least vision impaired B3s racing in Sail Newport's J/22s. Regatta rules mandate that only a blind sailor can steer, while the other blind crew trims the sails. Verbal information provided by two sighted guides allows the blind skipper and crew to tactically position the boat as it navigates the race course. Sponsors of the 2006 IFDS Blind Sailing World Championship are Best Western The Mainstay Inn, The Carroll Center for the Blind, the Rhode Island Sailing Foundation and The Sailing Foundation of New York. Also, Harken, Koch Eye Associates, Narragansett Beer, Nasiff Fruit Company, Newport Specialty Foods, Newport Tent Company, Recordings for the Blind & Dyslexic, Herreshoff Marine Museum, Crystal Spring Water Company, Seaman's Church Institute, Rolex Watch U.S.A., North Sails, Nautor's Swan, Newport Community Band at Salve Regina University and J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines. The championship is organized by the NYYC, IFDS, Blind Sailing International and US SAILING.
For all the news from the IFDS Blind Sailing World Championship CLICK HERE.