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5 March 2008, 09:43 am
LARUFFA And SIMS Take Over Lead Of Hobie Tiger Worlds
Mark LARUFFA and Daniel SIMS
Mark LARUFFA and Daniel SIMS have taken over the lead at the Hobie Tiger Worlds

Hobie Tiger and third Hobie Dragoon World Championships 2008
Langebaan, South Africa

Mark LARUFFA and Daniel SIMS from Australia took over the lead at the Hobie Tiger Worlds in Langebaan, whilst South Africans Matt WHITEHEAD and Megan DU PLESSIS remain unbeaten in the Hobie Dragoon Worlds.
Mark LARUFFA and Daniel SIMS (AUS) won the two morning races and finished second in the afternoon after a capsize on the downwind run. During lunchtime the wind picked up to about 20 knots and it continued to build to 25 knots during the last heat. The 25 Dragoon teams had an early start at 09:00, but also had to compete in the strong conditions, which they handled surprisingly well. In the Hobie Dragoon fleet, Matt WHITEHEAD and Megan DU PLESSIS (RSA) remained unbeaten and took two bullets, which strengthened their overall lead.

The Hobie Tiger fleet was very eager on Tuesday morning, as they started both races with a general recall. In race 1 with 12 to 15 knots, LARUFFA and SIMS certainly won the second attempt at the pin end. LARUFFA: "We had good speed, but we didn't know the course. They must have changed it in between the two starting procedures. We went through the finish line, but there was no signal, so we headed up once more. Darren BUNDOCK, Shaun FERRY and Duncan ROSS followed us and lost out as well. We were totally confused, but managed to win."

Mitch BOOTH (NED) and Tiffany BARING-GOULD (RSA) finished second. BOOTH had to work hard on the sheet, because of a jammed mainsheet block. "After yesterday's wind, there was so much sand in it. We are getting better every day. The gains and losses are made in the manoeuvres. Tiffany is a 470 sailor and she is doing so well, considering she isn't used to multihulls," said BOOTH.

All About The Start

For the second start, LARUFFA and SIMS again choose the pin end. LARUFFA: "Darren was the furthest left, but hit the pin with Shaun above him. We footed off well and rounded just behind William EDWARDS at the windward mark. We got him at spinnaker hoist. We were leading until the finish with Mischa HEEMSKERK on our heels all way."

Carolijn BROUWER (BEL) and Darren BUNDOCK (AUS) were protested by the jury, because they did not take a penalty turn after they hit the pin. BROUWER explained, "Our tiller crossbar was broken, so we were far behind when we actually started. We never thought of taking a penalty, so we retired after the finish."

According to the local sailors one out of ten times it pays to go to the right side of the course. Today was the day. Gerard LOOS from the Netherlands grabbed his chance, went off to the right and gained many places: "We took advantage of the current and a favourable breeze at that side."

Rough Racing

By the time the Race Committee sent out the fleet for another two heats, the wind had picked up to more than 20 knots. The ride down to the starting line was already a challenge for some competitors. Not everybody made it in time and a few nose dived. The start was clean at the first attempt and LARUFFA and SIMS took the lead, followed by Shaun FERRY and John VAN DER VYFER (RSA).

Mischa HEEMSKERK and Bastiaan TENTIJ (NED) hoister their kite in third position. HEEMSKERK: "Shaun FERRY capsized, so we moved up one place. We were totally in control and could oversee the course. On the beat, we followed Mark LARUFFA to the left. We tacked earlier, while he over stood the mark a little bit. That is how we gained some meters on him. On the downwind, the leeward rudder came up and we had to gibe to put it down. After a while, we saw Mark capsizing in a huge gust and all we had to do was to consolidate the rest of the race."

They took the bullet and climbed to the third position overall. LARUFFA and SIMS managed to finish second, followed by the Australians Robbie LOVIG and Lachland GIBSON. They are still in second position overall.

Impressive Youth Sailing

"It is very impressive to see how well the youth handle their boats in these windy conditions," said Geert SCHOUTEN (NED) on the beach. The former president of the European Hobie Cat Association sails with his son Thomas SCHOUTEN. Father and son finished second twice. SCHOUTEN: "The kids were in control. They have certainly achieved something here in South Africa and you can see the fun they have."

According to 14 year old skipper Calene LOUBSER (RSA) it is the adrenaline from going fast and flying the hull that makes catamaran sailing really fun. She and her crew Skye MCLEAN (RSA) finished third and seventh on Tuesday, which put them in 15th position overall: "I like to get to the top ten."

The top ten aspirations are shared by 13 year old Erich RICKENS (RSA), who is currently lying 12th overall. "The wind was quite strong, which I like," he explained. His goal is to make top 14 to qualify for the finals.

The man to beat is definitely WHITEHEAD, aged 14. He and his crew DE PLESSIS have only scored bullets so far. WHITEHEAD said, "It was tiring today and I didn't stop thinking. The first two races we were leading by two and a half minutes. My upwinds are going really well. On the downwind, we just keep it safe and we push hard on the beat. And the strong breeze is mine. I feel well in these conditions."

After the hard work on the water, the youngsters were rewarded with an interesting presentation. Olympic sailors BOOTH, BUNDOCK and BROUWER talked about their campaigns and how they made their way up to the top.

Results - click here
Hobie Tiger and Hobie Dragoon World Championships - click here

Diana Bogaards
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