French duo Billy Besson and Jeremie Lagarrigue have taken the Formula 18 World Championship title in the waters off the Compagnia della Vela Grosseto ahead of Brits Hugh Styles and Mitch Booth. Bissaro/Cesari in ninth fared best of the Italians.
Despite the final day's racing delivering less steady and significantly weaker wind than the rest of the week, the race committee still managed to stage three races and whip up plenty of excitement out on the water. In the Gold fleet, French duo Billy Besson and Jeremie Lagarrigue did some fantastic tactical work and put on a massive show of power to become the new Formula 18 World Champions.
Having dominated the first day of qualifying, the French sailor began today at the top of the standings and then proved more than capable of not only controlling his closest rival Hugh Styles in the final three Formula 18 World Championship races but also of taking home one win and one second position, which meant he barely gave the Englishman an inch. This was the perfect ending for the French duo who take home the title after a week that saw them go from strength to strength from day one and ending on 26 points.
That is a good 19 points less than Hugh Styles and Richard Mason (45 points) who, nonetheless, proved their worth on the water by keeping the pressure on the French duo until the very last tack. This earned the Brits a very well deserved silver medal which they made their own with a very steady series of good results.
Mitch Booth and his son Jordi also showed the same kind of consistency in their performances in the final two days' sailing. After a less than brilliant start in the qualifiers, which they finished in seventh position, the father and son team delivered a string of results that saw them move all the way up to the third step of the podium on last day of racing with a total of 61 points. An enormously satisfying achievement for Mitch and 16 year old Jordi who was competing in his first international event.
The wooden medal, on the other hand, went to Francois Gabart, winner of the last Vendée Globe, and his bowman Matthieu Vandame. They finished fourth on 88 points, two less than fellow Frenchmen Gurvan Bontemps and Benjamin Amiot who were fifth in the Gold class on 90 points.
The best performance form the Italian teams in the Gold fleet came from Bissaro-Cesari in their clash with De Paoli-Stella. The duo had two not exactly excellent races today but it was still enough to bump them up from 15th to 9th overall on 148 points. De Paoli-Stella, on the other hand, finished 17th.
The Silver fleet, however, was very much an Italian-dominated affair with Vaccari/Meoli taking victory. Mitch and Jordi Booth also won the Masters category while Taylor Reiss and Matthew Whitehead (USA 888) won the Youth and Moana Vaireaux and Manon Audinet (FRA 33) the Mixed.
Much to the delight of everyone involved in working on the event, the sailors, the authorities and the presidents of the international class Olivier Bovyn and the Italian class Gianni Fantasia, the Compagnia della Vela-organised Formula 18 Worlds is already looking forward to the next edition in Ireland in 2014. The organisers, in fact, came to the Maremma for the symbolic passing of the baton between the Compagnia della Vela Grosseto, represented by president Marco Borioni, and Ballyholme Yacht Club represented by Rear Commodore Mark Mackey.