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2 September 2003, 04:50 pm
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Dart 18 World Championship
Stokes Bay

The sixth Dart 18 Worlds held at Stokes Bay Sailing Club will certainly go down as one of the most successful events run on the Solent with 146 boats entered from 12 countries and 5 continents.
The fleet was split into a Championship fleet with 130 entered and a fun fleet with the rest. 130 catamarans on one start is a now a sight that is rarely seen so Race Officer Chris WATTS and his team must take credit for fitting in 11 out of the 12 races in the week.

They opted not to use the black flag at all, but after general recalls used the Z flag 20% penalty. This generally worked well although the Solent Tide (all be it, neaps) was usually the deciding factor as to whether or not there was a recall.

Every top Dart sailor was at the event with a massive 10 boat South African team and even Canada, Australia, Kuwait and Malta represented. Finishing in the top 20 was an achievement for anyone.

The Opening ceremony was very impressive with the World Cup delivered by Helicopter and local Inshore lifeboat with a backdrop of all the countries flags being raised on Dart Masts.The evening continued with a nightly free draw courtesy of sponsors Typhoon, Cat Bitz and Andark.

Sunday dawned with a much lighter South Easterly and a container ship anchored just out of the course area but close enough to cast a small wind shadow on one side. The tide was also stronger on the right of the course. Local boats generally faired well in the race with it being won by 'Sailingbooks.co.uk' (Dave & Louise ROBERTS) with 'Red Insurance' (Alan & Fiona Kernick) third.

Day two and the wind had gone round to a more normal South Westerly direction but the start was delayed to let it fill in. The race got away first time and Dan NORMAN & Polly BISHOP Port tacked the fleet on the biased line to lead at the windward mark. (Several others had tried this tactic but there was only room for one to get through) They swapped the lead a few times but hung on to take the gun with Matt PULLEN & Deborah RICKARD taking another second ahead of their Restronguet clubmates Stuart & Sandie SLY.

The Race Committee delayed the start of race 4 to move the course to the right, away from the swinging container ship which had again been influencing the left hand side of the course. An even line saw the fleet split with all the locals heading right and others led by the top French teams going left. Slightly more wind to the left paid and it was CIC leading with Thierry & Christine WIBAUX (FRA) and former European Champions Vincent BOUVIER & Fanny MERELLE (FRA) close behind. Jasper & Finlay BARNHAM (GBR) stole third place to break the French domination of the race.

Day 3 and a delayed start to let the wind fill in this time from the North West. The fleet got away at the second attempt but with the wind dropping on the seaward side the fleet headed into the shore. Kim & Bruce PHILLIPS from South Africa were early leaders but Norman & Bishop judged the layline on the second beat to perfection to lead with Pullen & Rickard second and Austrian team of Luis GAZZARI & Vanessa KRAMER third. The course was shortened at the end of two laps and the fleet sent home for the evening.

Wednesday and again the wind was light to start with but finally filled in after the first race and turned it into a championship of two halves. The first 6 races were predominantly light and the last 5 mainly windy.

Race 6 got away first time with a lot of the fleet struggling across the start against the slight adverse tide. The wind was trying to fill in and first the right then the left hand sides paid It was a day of former Champions with Dave & Jo BARTLETT (GBR) winning with Defending World Champions Christophe & Catherine GHAZARRIAN second. Norman & Bishop had led the right hand side but could only recover to finish in 20 place.

The last day again saw a steady South-Westerly 4-5 with the right hand side getting a favourable lift into the windward mark Bouvier & Merelle led again but this time were passed by Chaix& Daher and the new team Typhoon of Lloyd & Pollock who forced Chaix & Daher to take the left side of the course and held on to win.

The final race and the course was shortened in length. Again Bouvier & Merelle were at the front and just followed The consistent CIC who were now their only challengers for the title. CIC won the race and deservedly Bouvier & Merelle the title. The conditions over the week had been quite varied from little wind to force 6 and 1.5 knots of tide at the start to negligable by the end of the week. Next year the Worlds moves to Lagos in the Algarve and the year after to East London in South Africa.

Full results and photographs are available on the event website at the arddress below.

Overall Top Ten - Championship Fleet

Pos Helm Crew Nat R1 R2 R3 R4 R5 R6 R7 R8 R9 R10 R11 Total
1 Bouvier Merelle FRA 4 4 -13 4 -32 5 1 1 1 2 2 24
2 Le Maux Jones-Pierce FRA 2 3 -7 1 -12 3 6 5 5 6 1 32
3 Pullen Rickard GBR 5 2 2 -16 2 6 11 7 6 -13 6 47
4 Owen Gadsby GBR 6 1 6 7 7 -12 -15 2 8 4 10 51
5 Norman Bishop GBR -12 5 1 8 1 -20 8 6 10 8 8 55
6 Wibaux Wibaux FRA 7 9 8 2 -15 10 4 3 -134 12 3 58
7 Sly Sly GBR 9 -17 3 -28 6 8 2 8 11 5 12 64
8 Lloyd Lloyd GBR 19 6 17 -27 17 -24 5 9 3 1 18 95
9 Draper Draper GBR 15 7 14 5 -20 -23 3 14 9 17 11 95
10 Kernick Kernick GBR 3 -54 5 -25 4 19 22 11 4 10 20 98
David Lloyd (As Amended By ISAF News Editor)
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