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29 October 2005, 05:40 pm
France And Tahiti Win First Race In Open Qualifier
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Hobie 16 World Championship 2005
Port Elizabeth, South Africa

France and Tahiti won the first race in the open qualifier round for the 17th Hobie Cat 16 World Championship, presented by Chevrolet, in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Both teams, Alban BRUNO and Jean BERNAZ (FRA) and Telva VERONIQUE and Kaya GUILLAIN (TAH), gained their first victory convincingly, but although the conditions looked perfect this morning, they became rough again and further racing was abandoned.
Spectators had a good time on the pier watching the spectacular sailing of the H16 crews out on the Indian Ocean. Back on the beach, all hands were needed to bring the equipment safely in.

Fleet One

After yesterday's complete cancellation of competition due to a 40 knots offshore wind, today started with a nice breeze from almost the opposite direction. It increased very quickly before the first start and already shifted to the northwest. The starting gun was fired at 1000 hours local time, with about 20 knots of wind and it continued to build up. Most of the teams went to the left side of the course. Only six decided to try their luck on the right, which did not pay off. The H16s that took a long starboard tack also fell behind, but the ones that took an early flier came out best. BRUNO and BERNAZ were first at the upwind mark. BRUNO commented, 'We kept this position throughout the race. It was difficult sailing with high and short waves.' They finished about 300 meters ahead of the runners up, Fletcher WARREN and Georgia MYERS from New Zealand. Meanwhile, eleven crews out of 43 gave up due to the wild conditions. Boats were blown over and the beach master warned the competitors of the next race, 'The wind and surf are picking up. If you do not feel comfortable, do not go out. If you want to reef your mainsail, there are ropes available.'

Fleet Two

During the boat swap, the H16s were tuned for high winds, as it had increased up to 30 knots in gusts. Some of the teams did reef their mainsail. All of them were allowed to leave the beach at 1115, where after the struggle against the elements started. The conditions were rough and required a very good teamwork. TELVA and KAYA from Tahiti knew how to play this game and took the lead pretty soon. TELVA commented, 'We are used to sail in these conditions, although it is normally a little bit less extreme at home. We did not have a good start, since we missed the five minutes signal, but we have been in first position all the time.' According to TELVA, they were one or two minutes ahead of Mark LARUFFA (ITA) and Joshua SELIG (RSA), 'In the end, we had difficulties to find the finish line. They shortened the race, so the gate was gone. We stopped and looked around, before we knew where to go.'

After his arrival back on the beach, experienced Hobie 16 sailor LARUFFA explained that it was really scary, 'The waves just smashed your feet off the boat. The wind must have been easily 35 knots. I have never depowered my side stays that much.' The South African women Belinda HAYWARD and Kim WILKINSON-DAVIES, silver medallists in the Women's World Championship, performed a remarkable feat by finishing in third position. 27 teams out of 43 completed the race.

Sunday will be the last day of the open qualifier with 83 teams, representing 19 countries. On Monday 31 October the semi finals will start.

Top Ten After One Race

Pos Nation Helm Crew R1 Pts
1 FRA Alban BRUNO Jean BERNAZ 1 1
1 TAH Teiva VERONIQUE Kaya GUILLAIN 1 1
3 BRA Bernardo ARNDT Bruno OLIVEIRA 2 2
3 ITA Mark LARUFFA Joshua SELIG 2 2
3 NZL Fletcher WARREN Georgia MYERS 2 2
6 PNG Andrew LOCKE Belinda ZANESCO 3 3
6 RSA Belinda HAYWARD Kim WILKINSON-DAVIES 3 3
8 AUS Shane PETERSON Jesse DOBIE 4 4
8 RSA Andrew WARD Steve ARNOLD 4 4
10 NED Ute VRIJBURG Gerben VRIJBURG 5 5
10 NOR Brian HUNT Truls Lover ARNESEN 5 5
Diana Bogaards (As Amended By ISAF). Image, The Hobies get underway in South Africa:© Pierrick Contin
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