Port Elizabeth / South Africa, November 3rd 2005 On Thursday the competitors of the 17th Hobie 16 Worlds in South Africa finally got a full day of action. After yesterday’s 40 knots offshore wind in Port Elizabeth, there was a nice and steady breeze all day long. The semi-final series of ten races were completed. Brazil took three bullets and Australia two. Both teams Tim Shuwalow / Cameron Hooper (AUS) and Juliano Viana / Sebastiao Gomes (BRA) won twice. The Aussies are in first position after the semi-finals, followed by the South African teams Ferry/Le Sueur and Dodd/Dodd. The battle for gold is tied, so it is going to be an exciting final day.
Race 4 to 6: Shuwalow and Hooper grab the lead
Today’s conditions have arrived right in time, as the Hobie 16 Worlds 2005 are coming to an end and the weather has been very tricky. The fourth semi-final race had to be cancelled again on Wednesday, due to a 40 knot offshore wind that all of a sudden came in during the starting procedure. This morning, the race committee decided to use short courses (upwind, downwind, finish), in order to catch up on the schedule. Blaine and Roxanne Dodds from South Africa were in the lead at the first upwind mark, followed by the British youngsters Tom Phipps and Andrew Taylor. Both of them choose for the left side of the course. Tim Shuwalow and Cameron Hooper (AUS) went to the right. The finish was close, but the Aussies caught a puff and beat father and daughter Dodds at the line. Shuwalow: "We got it just before them." All teams swopped their boats quickly and sailed out again. The Germans Wiese-Dohse and Versi Gehrmann took the lead from the beginning and sailed a conservative fifth race. They went inshore after the upwind mark and increased their lead. "It was nerve-racking", said Gehrmann afterwards. Blaine and Roxanne Dodds finished second. Race six showed exciting competition between Australia and South Africa. Shaun Ferry and Michele le Sueur (RSA) were heading from the seaside of the course towards the finish, as Shuwalow and Hooper came from inshore. The South Africans got a header and fell back to a second position. Shuwalow, who works for the Volvo Ocean Race organization, took advantage of a lift an won: "We had a nice pressure on the run downwind."
Race 7 to 9: Brazil dominates
The blue, green and yellow colours of the mainsails symbolized the Brazilian colours today, as Brazil took three bullets. Juliano Viana and Sebastiao Gomes won the seventh and nineth race, Robert Bezerra and Sergio Nottingham the eighth. After his first victory, Viana explained his success: "We come from a place with strong winds, so we know what to do with the breeze that was picking up. And we always went out on the ocean, because it was better there." Hilton Hale and Kim Rowlands (RSA) grabbed the second position on the finish line: "Blaine undertacked the line and we got him." In race eight, Robert Bezerra and Sergio Nottingham had a porttack start at the committee boat. Bezerra: "We had clean air and went off, but we watched the other competitors all the time." However, there was more Brazilian fortune, as Bernardo Arndt and Bruno Aliveira finished second. All of them received a warm and enthusiastic welcome back on the beach by their fellow-countrymen. Bezerra about their national team spirit: "We live at the same place as Juliano and Sebastiao and we train together." Juliano Viana and Sebastiao Gomes had to fight for victory in race nine, after rounding the first upwind mark in third position . Viana: "On the downwind reach, we looked for wind and gibed several times in the center of the course. Sometimes for catching puffs and sometimes aggressively on others." It paid and they finished far ahead of the runners up, Paul Lagesse and Tyran Kerford from South Africa. Viana: "We are going to celebrate it tonight. You never know about tomorrow."
Race 10: New IHCA president Colin Whitehead serves the sailors
South African Colin Whitehead, second World Champion Hobie 16 ever, has been elected as the new president of the International Hobie Class Association. At yesterday’s non-cut party, he was introduced to all competitors. "Thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve you all", spoke Colin. A day after, he already leaded the fleet by far. He and his 12-year old son Matthew won race ten, followed by Jerome Le Gal and Siret Mickael from France.
The top 56 teams will be announced this evening at the yacht club. They will compete in the final round for the 2005 World Champion Hobie Cat 16.
Top five after ten races and one discard:
1. AUS - Shuwalow / Hooper, 11 points
2. RSA - Ferry / Le Sueur, 11 p.
3. RSA - Dodds / Dodds, 16 p.
4. RSA - Lagesse / Kerford, 18 p.
5. FRA - Le Gal / Mickael, 18 p.