21st Hobie ®16 A field of the world’s best Hobie Cat® sailors battled it out on Dapeng Bay in China, on the first day of competition in the two day finals series, at the 2016 Hobie® 16 World Championship.
Coming into the series some competitors were simply expecting light to moderate breezes and nothing more, while others had their hopes up for strong monsoonal wind in the finals. Today those with high hopes had their prayers answered and the solid pressure on the water didn’t just come from their competition.
Race one of the finals started in a moderate 12kt to 14kt breeze, similar to the faster racing during the semi-final series. But in race two heavy downpours and low visibility produced some testing conditions. Nobody cared about the rain because with it came wind, wind that blasted across the water producing some superb conditions with wind between 18 to 23kts, which made for an amazing race.
The finals produced real intensity on the starting line with some unexpected tactical maneuvering which created havoc for some and Black Flags for others.
Everything imaginable happened on the water, there was absolutely brilliant sailing, lucky changes in fortune, amazing skill, screaming and yelling and just some awesome racing. The fierce competition and rivalry of the high quality fleet, and some incredible weather made for a real spectacle.
When interviewed during the semi finals, Daniel Bjornholt Christensen from Denmark said that the worlds is about skill, making the right decisions, making the most of other team’s mistakes and having a lot of luck go your way. He said it’s about what happens on the day, and the weather, and if he had his way he would want strong winds through the finals. Today Daniel got everything he desired and moved to the top of the leaderboard.
Rod Waterhouse (AUS) the leader going into the finals dropped off to 8th place. Mick Butler (AUS) jumped from 5th to 2nd, 8 points behind the Dane. Fletcher Warren-Mayers (AUS) and Benjamin Brown (USA) are sitting in equal third trailing Butler by another 4.
The final battle between the world’s best Hobie Cat® sailors was fought out on Dapeng Bay in China yesterday, in the final two races of the 21st Hobie® 16 World Championships.
Going in to the last day’s racing Daniel Bjornholt Christensen (DEN) had an 8 point buffer and was holding onto an amazing 5 point drop, which meant that Mick Butler (AUS) needed a minimum of two races, and luck to go his way in both, to have a chance to move ahead of the Dane.
After an ominous start to the day with very light winds, optimism was still in the mind of all of the competitors. Even Bjornholt Christensen wanted to race if conditions were fair. Despite the chance that he could lose the crown that was looking like his for the keeping. Early in the morning not long after arriving at the event site he said.
“I’m happy to race if the conditions are proper. But right now it would be a chance game so I would prefer not to go out because I’m the one who could lose the most. But if the wind swings around and we get even any sort of a steady breeze, I’m happy to go out there and race”.
His crew 24 year old Josephine Frederiksen who has sailed with Bjornholt Christensen in two European championships was trying to remain as relaxed as possible while waiting to see if the Race Officer would call for the world championship teams to leave the beach.
“I’m just trying to take every minute as it comes, I’m trying not to think about it and staying as calm as I can be. If racing happens we’ll just have to go out there and do our best”.
At 10:30am the call came out that the bay had filled in with enough breeze for a start and with more wind coming in behind it. The race to the top of the world was on once again.
When race one started, a moderate 12kt breeze blew and sailing was intense with strong finishes crucial for the top six who where chasing the minor places in the series. Butler (AUS) was primed for a win or at least to place well ahead of Bjornholt Christensen. Unfortunately, he was well back in the field at the start and his task became more and more impossible as the race progressed. With Butler, now out of contention, the championship would go to the Bjornholt.
On the last leg of the race, the heavens opened, rain poured down and thunder rumbled around the bay as France crossed the finish line in the top three places with Orion Martin winning in the sheeting rain and howling 25kt wind.
After the storm had settled the bay was almost glass and racing was once again put on hold. Late in the afternoon another race was called and while Bjornholt Christensen and Frederiksen had the world championship in their keeping, second and third places were up for grabs. Fletcher Warren-Myers (AUS) sat on 34 points, Butler had 35 points, Orion Martin was on 36 and Benjamin Brown (USA) was also in contention with 39.
In a fair 12kts the race started cleanly with Martin blitzing the start at the pin end and setting himself up with a great opportunity to take a series podium finish. Warren-Myers was sailing confidently in a competitive position but Butler and Brown had dropped away.
Martin kept making the right choices and rounded every mark on the course with a strong lead. It was the third race victory in a row for the impressive Frenchman, who finished the regatta brilliantly to take out second place in the world championship along with his crew Nadine Wieland. After a consistent performance throughout the finals series, third place went to an excited Australian husband and wife team Fletcher and Georgia Warren-Myers.
Congratulations to all of the sailors who have fought out some awesome battles on these same oriental waters where pirates invaded the local population hundreds of years ago. We have discovered an amazing part of the world, seen intense, exciting and skilful sailing, witnessed great sportsmanship, made new friends and had fun times.
Daniel Bjornholt Christensen and Josephine Frederiksen you are the 2016 Hobie 16 World Champions! … and you’re just Brilliant!
Story and photos from Hobie® Cat Media