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12 July 2008, 03:07 pm
DE KONING And VAN LEEUWEN Win F18 Worlds
Action from Nigran
Action from Nigran

Formula 18 World Championship 2008
Nigran, Spain

Tricky conditions in the Bay of Baiona and a final day full of suspense ended with Coen DE KONING and Jeroen VAN LEEUWEN winning the F18 World Championships in Nigran, Spain.
Light and fluky breezes totally reshuffled the fleet on the final day on Friday, ensuring tension right until the very end of the regatta. The calm after the storm was never a more apt phrase for the Bay of Baiona in the final day of racing for the F18 Worlds.

Conditions which looked promising, with the start procedure on time for the first time all week, a southwesterly of 7-8 knots seemed an even bigger challenge for the 66-strong gold fleet than the gusts of the day before.

The top five teams on the leaderboard huddled by the committee boat once again and as the fleet split, the boats more at ease in the big breeze were notably struggling in the lighter airs.

It is never over until it's ever - and it was certainly the case in Nigran for racing day five. A constant track record, nerves of steel and calm sailing over the competition ensured young Dutch team Coen DE KONING and Jeroen VAN LEEUWEN swept the top spot by two points. Despite disappointing results in both races on the final day, a solid performance throughout the championship has crowned NED 3 as F18 World Champions 2008.

"We sailed some cool races and we stayed in the top from the beginning", said DE KONING. "I took this event very seriously. During winter time, we decided that these Worlds had to be our peak moment and we made our plans."

"Especially our preparations and mentally strength helped us. During the first couple of days, we sometimes had a few minutes lead, which is normally impossible in this fleet. We have worked very well as a team," added DE KONING.

For the rest of the fleet, there was suspense all round. Following a change of course during race 4 it was Dutch Hobie Cat team Mischa HEEMSKERK and Bastiaan TENTIJ in front closely hunted down by AUS 308 Andrew LANDENBERGER and Felix EGNER; separated from the top spot by just a matter of points. The 'James Bond' duo of the competition clearly with something to prove, were once again giving a full demonstration of their speed and talent, to extend to an impressive lead ahead of the fleet.

But it was to prove an excellent day for German team Helge SACH and Christian SACH, who made an impressive comeback in the last run; hitting the tactical nail on the head, they headed left and in a battle of wits with NED 007 provided some of the most spectacular match racing of the whole event. Just two hundred metres from the line GER 164 crossed the Dutch, who were saved by some fine manoeuvring and boat speed to win race 4. A steady race 5, combined with disappointing results from their closest contenders, was enough for HEEMSKERK and TENTIJ to clinch third on the podium.

As conditions remained light, at times near total calm in certain areas, the course was to prove a true puzzle of wit for all. French multihull expert, Franck CAMMAS and Jeremy LAGARRIGUE gave a steady, skilful performance and grabbed second on the podium - an impressive premiere for CAMMAS, new to the F18 competition.

With a disappointing race 5, fellow countrymen Jean-Christophe MOURNIAC and Franck CITEAU (FRA) were pipped to the post finishing fourth overall. The tough course was to prove an obstacle for British Olympian Hugh STYLES and Adam PIGGOTT whose two firsts the day before not quite enough for a podium but a solid fifth for GBR 957.

Mitch BOOTH and Pim NIEUWENHUIS (NED), definitively not as happy in the light breeze, had a demanding day moving the former F18 World Champion to sixth place on the leader board.

An impressive level gave competitors and spectators alike a wonderful week of racing with conditions to test the competence of the fleet to its full. Noteworthy performances from a number of teams including Gunnar LARSEN and Stefan DUBBELDAM (NED), LANDENBERGER and EGNER, Andrew MACPHERSON and Ferdinand VAN WEST (AUS) and Moana VAIREAUX and Romain PETIT (FRA).

Results - click here

Olivier Bovyn (As Amended by ISAF)
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