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14 April 2002, 09:50 am
Gavin Colby and Simone Mattfield (AUS) Take Championship
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Hobie 16 World Championships
Noumea

Their superior boatspeed and boat handling proved the difference along with their ability to remain cool under pressure during the last two races when a seemingly insurmountable lead suddenly evaporated early on the last day.
The event was dominated by Colby and Mattfield who won six races in the twelve race series. However, the first race of the final where they were judged over the line early and were given 57 points made sure that they kept on their toes right up until the end of the last race. With a 32 point lead going into the last day of racing, their aim was to sail cleanly and finish within the top group of boats. They could not run the risk of another bad result otherwise the event that they had dominated may have been lost. Unfortunately for them they capsized in race 2 of the day and finished in 39th place erasing all of their lead and putting them tied for first place with Thibaut Vauchel-Camus and Matheas Lassnig from France. However the pivotal moment came at the start of the second last race when the Race Committee flew the Individual recall flag. Vauchel-Camus decided not risk an OCS and returned to restart, even though the Race Committee later confirmed that they were not one of the boats over the line at the start. Vauchel-Camus sailed well to get back into the fleet but this result dropped them from contention for first place and allowed Mitch and Taylor Booth from the Netherlands to move up into second place overall.

With each of the top three place-getters having a bad drop race going into the final race, there were all focussed on protecting their positions, rather than mounting an all out attack on the boats in front. If any of these three boats had another bad race or an incident that could take them out of the race, they would drop a long way down the leader board.

The conditions throughout the series were excellent with the wind not below 12 knots for any of the races, and most held in 15 - 18 knots and sunshine. The last race of the semi-finals proved the toughest with 25 knots of breeze at the Committee Boat and more importantly a sharp steep chop whipped up by the strong winds running against the tide. Many competitors capsized and several decided that the conditions were too strong to sail. The most amazing sight was that of Hobie Alter Jnr who had decided to sail with his nine year old son. Having only sailed together on a lake for one weekend prior to the event, the conditions proved tough for the youngest of the
Alter clan. However he survived unscathed with Hobie Jnr sailing single trapeze while son Scott held on to the toe straps on the tramp bouncing around in the New Caledonian slop.

Richard Johnston and Rudolph Chichemanian were the highest placed New Caledonian team with a seventh placed finishe overall. Their local knowledge proved invaluable in some of the races when the took a different approach to the weather mark than the rest of the fleet and in most cases it provided them with large gains.

A very large thank you to the people of New Caledonia for an excellent series and for making the sailors of the world feel so welcome in their home. We all leave with very fond memories of our time in paradise.
Paul Pascoe/ISAF Secretariat
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