The first IFDS Blind Match Racing World Championship has been decided on Lake Garda, Italy.
Luigi Bertanza and Sylvia Parente (ITA) claimed the prize with two straight wins in the final of the World Championship for IBSA B1 classified blind sailors. On the other course, Lucy Hodges and Toby Davey (GBR) won the International Championship for the B2 classification.
Bertanza and Parente met Anna Gamba and Enrico Sosio (ITA) in the final matches, but their experience showed through with stronger tactics and boat handling. Bertanza is a skilled helmsman who has won International Blind Match Racing Championships in past years and won the B1 division of the 2009 IFDS Blind Sailing World Championships sailed as fleet racing with sighted crew members.
In the petit final for the B1 group, Manuel Ugarte and Federico Albir (ESP) lost their first match this afternoon but came back to win the next two against Kylie Forth and Erin McGlew (AUS) to claim third place overall.
The Australians will be disappointed with their performance in the finals series, having held second place through the round robin. But Forth has only taken on the helm since 2007 and sheet-hand McGlew has been sailing for just three months. They will have the home advantage next March when the Blind Match Racing Championships move to Royal Perth Yacht Club.
It was Italy versus Great Britain for the final of the B2 classified sailors competing for an IFDS International Championship.
Lucy Hodges and Toby Davey (GBR), who are more experienced in the fleet racing format sailing with sighted crew members, have adapted to the acoustic system and shown outstanding match racing skills this week. They met local favourites Alessandro Malapiero and Elisabetta Bardella (ITA) for the final. There was plenty of close manoeuvering before the start and a few protest calls, but none were upheld.
First-time match race helmsman Pekka Rantanen (FIN) has been sailing with local crew Egidio Carantini for this event. Their opponents in the petit final were Andrea Pesaresi and Gianluca Battisti (ITA). The first match was a very tight affair, with close sailing and some close calls, but the Fin managed to claim two straight.
Presentations were held at the Bettoni Palace in Gargnano.
The IFDS Disabled Sailing World Championships, 2010, Homerus Blind Match Racing have been hosted by Homerus Associazione Onlus in conjunction with the Circolo Vela Gargnano.
Sailors competing in this event must be IBSA classified B1 or B2 under the International Blind Sports Association (IBSA) vision classification system. The championships were sailed in pairs of identical keelboats by a two person crew with a sighted observer on board. Three acoustic marks, each with a unique signal, set out the course. Each boat has its own sound signal that changes when on port or starboard tack.
The ability of the blind sailors to orient themselves to the race course, locate the distance, bearing and track of their opponent, and engage in close tactical sailing is simply breathtaking. For all the officials, volunteers and spectators here in Gargnano, it has provided great racing and an inspirational event.
Results and more at http://www.2010worldblindsailingita.com/.