The 5th B14 World Championships, hosted by Circolo Vela Torbole on Lake Garda, Italy opened with two races on Monday, July 19. Pre-event discussion was that this was as wide open a championship as the class had known with as many as eight potential champions and many teams capable of winning races. The first two races confirmed that this event will probably go down to the wire.
The Southerly Ora was blowing at 10-15 knots for the first start but was showing signs of instability. As is usual, there were two strategies for the first beat; hard right into more pressure or left up the shoreline to 'Lucky Point'. This time it was the left that played big time with a massive port lift in the second half of the beat bringing defending champions, Tim Fells and Shaun Barber, through to an early lead.
The conditions remained shifty for the next 2 laps, regularly shuffling the pack. Fells and Barber defended aggressively, particularly from the flying Australian team of Kieran Livermore and Karen Wiseman who were showing great speed. Fells / Barber (GBR 758) held on to take the first gun, Livermore / Wiseman (AUS 371) second, Nils Jolliffe and Jon Branch (GBR 764) third ahead of another quick Australian team, Martin Johnson and Mike Halkes (AUS 367).
For race two, the Ora was becoming more variable with significant pressure differences and big shifts. Current UK and European champions, Dave Hayes and Sean Dwyer found the best route up the left bank to lead down the run. However, they were not able to hold back Jono Pank and Rich Edwards who came through on the second beat to take a comfortable lead. Behind them the snakes and ladders continued to make it hard to maintain places. At the finish Pank / Edwards (GBR 771) took the gun from Hayes / Dwyer (GBR 767) ahead of the leading Australian's, Peter Ray and Gareth Wells (AUS 370) and the consistent Matt Searle and Sandy Ramus (GBR 725).
So a day when consistency was hard to find ended with the 5 strongest British teams holding the top slots.
Results after Day 1: (2 races)
1st GBR 771, Jono Pank and Rich Edwards (6,1) 7 points
2nd GBR 725, Matt Searle and Sandy Ramus (5,4) 9 points
3rd GBR 758, Tim Fells and Shaun Barber (1,9) 10 points
4th GBR 764, Nils Jolliffe and Jon Branch (3,8) 11 points
5th GBR, 767 Dave Hayes and Sean Dwyer (10,2) 12 points
6th AUS, 371 Kieran Livermore and Karen Wiseman (2,11) 13 points
For the second day of the B14 World Championships, the Southerly Ora was late arriving and although filling in to 12-14 knots, had sufficient shifts and holes to make racing interesting. As for the first day the left hand bank was the place to be but with occasional big gains for those brave enough to take a wider line.
Race 3 started with a crowded pin end and a second gun. Jono Pank and Rich Edwards, the overnight leaders, sailed fast and smart to establish a good lead at the top mark. Tim Fells and Shaun Barber chased hard and had closed sufficiently by the last beat to initiate some close covering. On the final run Fells / Barber attacked and managed to find some extra pressure to take the gun. Dave Hayes and Sean Dwyer who had never been far behind, also took advantage of a strong gust to grab second with Pank / Edwards crossing to silence having been OCS. Jason Andrews and Joel McDonald (GBR 756) were promoted to third.
With a less biased line, the fleet started race 4 cleanly. Andrews / McDonald having been rolled at the start, tacked out right and found lifting pressure to bring them back across the fleet. They established a lead that they extended throughout the race despite the wind starting to break up. Fells / Barber pulled their way up to second but were rolled by Richie Reynolds and Lissa McMillan (AUS 368) on the last lap who went on to take second. Pank / Edwards followed Fells / Barber home in third and fourth. The Australian team completed an excellent race with 5 boats in the top 10.
Results after 2 races:
1st GBR 758, Tim Fells and Shaun Barber (1,9,1,3) 5 points
2nd GBR 756, Jason Andrews and Joel McDonald (9,6,3,1) 10 points
3rd GBR 771, Jono Pank and Rich Edwards (6,1,OCS,4) 11 points
4th GBR 767, Dave Hayes and Sean Dwyer (10,2,2,9) 13 points
5th GBR 725, Matt Searle and Sandy Ramus (5,4,4,6) 13 points
6th AUS 367, Martin Johnson and Mike Halkes (4,13,5,7) 16 points
Brought classic Ora conditions with 16-18 knots, much more steady in direction and strength than the first two days. It was definitely a boat speed day and the Aussie team showed their colours with some exceptional all round pace. The Sydney fleet based at Woollahra, have been working with their local sailmaker to develop a flatter, straighter rig that seems rocket ship fast in a breeze. The European rigs are more tuned for moderate conditions with coastal chop and are more punchy, pointing higher. It is an interesting contrast in styles and if the wind continues to build, the end result will be hard to predict.
In race 5, Richie Reynolds and Lissa McMillan gained the upper hand up the left hand bank and rounded first ahead of the leading five Brits in the overall standings. Sailing a composed race strategy they steadily extended their lead to win, Lissa becoming the first girl crew to win a B14 world championship race. Overnight leaders, Tim Fells and Shaun Barber (GBR 758) crossed second to further strengthen their title challenge. Matt Searle and Sandy Ramus (GBR 725) added a third to their impressive set of top 5 results and Jason Andrews and Joel McDonald strengthened their score line with fourth. Jono Pank and Rich Edwards (GBR 771) whole had led the regatta on the first day, were disqualified for a windward mark incident with Andrews.
At the start of race 6, the Ora was well established and the fleet split to both sides of the course. Fells / Barber, leading the regatta were doing turns off the start line and were last to start. Searle / Ramus took the early lead but were soon struggling to hold back the flying Aussies. Martin Johnson and Mike Halkes (AUS 367) flew past upwind and extended their lead to win by a stunning margin from Searle / Ramus. Peter Ray and Gareth Wells (AUS 370) took third ahead of Reynolds / McMillan (AUS 368) to complete a great day for team Australia. Meanwhile the leading 3 Brits were doing themselves no favours with Andrews / McDonald 10th, Fells / Barber 12th and Pank / Edwards seeing their title challenge slip away in 13th.
Results after 6 races:
1st GBR 758, Tim Fells and Shaun Barber (1,9,1,3,2,12) 16 points
2nd GBR 725, Matt Searle and Sandy Ramus (5,4,4,6,3,2) 18 points
3rd GBR 756, Jason Andrews and Joel McDonald (9,6,3,1,4,10) 23 points
4th AUS 368 Richie Reynolds and Lissa McMillan (11,17,6,2,1,4) 24 points
5th AUS 367 Martin Johnson and Mike Halkes (4,13,5,7,7,1) 24 points
6th AUS 370 Peter Ray and Gareth Wells (13,3,13,5,5,3) 29 points
The fourth day of the B14 World Championships was another classic Ora day, this time at 18-20 knots. The Aussie team continued as they had finished day 3 with some devastating pace around the course. Martin Johnson and Mike Halkes (AUS 367) followed up their win in race 6 with another start to finish win in race 7. Marrk Barnes and Tom Pygall (GBR 768) were one of the few teams to pioneer the right hand side of the track and were rewarded with second ahead of Jono Pank and Rich Edwards (GBR 771) and overnight leaders Tim Fells and Shaun Barber (GBR 758).
Race 8 started with a bit more pressure and again the Aussies jumped into the lead with Johnson / Halkes leading fellow countrymen Richie Reynolds and Lissa McMillan around the first two laps. However Matt Searle and Andy Ramus (GBR 725) never gave up the chase and picked up some great shifts on the third beat to take the lead which they held to the finish. Pank / Edwards followed the two Aussie boats in fourth with Jason Andrews and Joel McDonald (GBR 756) keeping their hopes alive in fifth. Fells and Barber struggled for an 8th place that was a counter and closed the gap on the chasing pack.
With two races left, the overall result could not be closer with five boats in with a realistic shot at the title and only 1 point covering the first three teams.
Results after 8 races:
1st GBR 758, Tim Fells and Shaun Barber (1,9,1,3,2,12,4,8) 19 points
2nd GBR 725, Matt Searle and Sandy Ramus (5,4,4,6,3,2,10,1) 19 points
3rd AUS 367 Martin Johnson and Mike Halkes (4,13,5,7,7,1,1,2) 20 points
4th AUS 368 Richie Reynolds and Lissa McMillan (11,17,6,2,1,4,9,3) 25 points
5th GBR 756, Jason Andrews and Joel McDonald (9,6,3,1,4,10,7,5) 26 points
6th GBR 771, Jono Pank and Rich Edwards (6,1,OCS,4,DSQ,13,3,4) 31 points
Day 5 - The final chapter
With five boats in with a realistic shot at the title and only 1 point covering the first three teams, the final day of the B14 Worlds was set for a classic battle of nerves. Conditions looked promising for a strong Ora but as the start gun went for race 9 in 12 knots, there was a big storm building in the mountains.
The fleet were tightly bunched close tacking up the left hand shore line and it was Jason Andrews and Joel McDonald (GBR 756) who rounded first and led the fleet down a flat out run. By the second beat, Jamie Mears and Micro Machine (GBR 646) had taken the lead closely pursued by championship leaders Tim Fells and Shaun Barber (GBR 758). Both of the other two main championship contenders, Matt Searle and Sandy Ramus (GBR 725) and Marty Johnson and Spike Halkes (AUS 367) were struggling outside the top ten.
As the leaders rounded the top mark it was obvious that the wind was beginning to drop as the storm moved out of the mountains. The PRO made a smart decision to shorten at the leeward gate with the Mears team taking their first championship gun followed by Fells / Barber, with Jono Pank and Rich Edwards just getting the better or Andrews / McDonald.
The fleet were sent ashore with lightning crashing around the mountains but as the back end of the fleet were making their way to the finish the storm hit with winds in excess of 40 knots. Fortunately no damage was done and everyone got home safely, if a bit scared!
With conditions unsail-able, the abandonment flags went up and Tim Fells and Shaun Barber were crowned 2004 World Championships. This highly experienced team – both previous winners of the World title – although not always the fastest in the fleet, demonstrated all-round skills to keep their challenge going in all conditions.
This championship, brilliantly hosted by Circolo Vela Torbole, has been unanimously viewed as the most competitive in the class history. The emergence of strong Australian challengers bodes well for the next Worlds on Sydney Harbour in January 2006.
1st GBR 758, Tim Fells and Shaun Barber (1,9,1,3,2,12,4,8,2) 21 points
2nd GBR 725, Matt Searle and Sandy Ramus (5,4,4,6,3,2,10,1, 6) 25 points
3rd AUS 367 Martin Johnson and Mike Halkes (4,13,5,7,7,1,1,2,DNF) 27 points
4th AUS 368 Richie Reynolds and Lissa McMillan (11,17,6,2,1,4,9,3,5) 30 points
5th GBR 756, Jason Andrews and Joel McDonald (9,6,3,1,4,10,7,5,4) 30 points
6th GBR 771, Jono Pank and Rich Edwards (6,1,OCS,4,DSQ,13,3,4,3) 34 points