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2 March 2003, 11:33 pm
Howarth and Townend (GBR) hold off late challenge by Switzerland|s Venhoda and Zaugg
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Fireball World Championship

The last two races of the Safaricom World Fireball Sailing Championships were favoured with a brisker wind than previous days, giving all but perfect sailing conditions.
The day before, Thursday, which was a lay day, was exceptionally hot and almost windless and it looked as if the last day might be slow and tedious. In the event the wind gods came back to see the event to a fine finish.

The fleet was smaller for the last day as three boats did not go out: the Winships (UK) and Huber and Mauchle (SUI) decided to stay on shore, and Mbithi and Ogada (KEN) had problems with their jib and could not get it fixed in time. Roger Bebbington recovered sufficiently from his malaria to be back on the water again with son Joachim.

The Swiss pair Venhoda and Sonia Zaugg had a fierce tussle with France's Juin and Loyal for the first triangle, and finally overtook them on the run to finish first. Horey and Turner, Bale and Bale, and Juin and Loyal were also in the front group of the race throughout. Howarth and Townend sailed a conservative race to keep out of trouble; rounded the first mark about 10th and then caught up to 5th at the finish.

As the 10th race prepared to start, with the wind still freshening a little more, Howarth and Townend and Dave Wade and Wagstaff went back in, being now secure in the top two places for the Worlds.

Penny Gibbs with husband Ian was over the line for the last race, and went back to re-start, recovering only to 22nd place; while Mackenzie and Claudette Hall were over but did not go back and so were given an OCS finish.

At the first windward mark the spinnaker of McCarthy and McCusker was the first to go up, followed by Pearce and Keeling and then by the Swiss pair Venhoda and Zaugg. The Swiss had the bit between their teeth now, however, and having got to the head of the race before the wing mark they never looked back. McCarthy and McCusker for Ireland were second, and third place was taken by Pearce and Keeling (UK), just in front of Mouches and Nouel (FRA) in fourth place.

Further back in the race the Kenya boats Trundell and Hime, Woods and Bush, and White and Allport had good sailing, with several changes of position between themselves in the earlier legs. Not too surprisingly Trundell and Hime decided to put up with this no longer and shook off the opposition to finish in 14th place, and 14th overall in the event, a considerable achievement for club sailors in view of the constant practice and eventing that the front boats work on all the time. White and Allport finished 25th overall, just ahead of Woods and Bush at 26th.

And so - the boats are being packed up, the cups and prizes are being laid out in the dining area beside the stunning Mnarani Club pool with its view over the creek and out to sea, the dignitaries are preparing their speeches and the chefs the closing dinner. We hope that a good time has been had by all, and that our visitors will come back again to Kenya before too long. The dolphins and the turtles can now have their quiet sea back to themselves, and all will be leaving with wonderful memories of Kilifi and the great competition.

For full results, please see the event website at the address below.
Event Media/ISAF News Editor
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