The Gdynia Worlds have ended with a convincing win for Lutz Stengel and Holger Jess, who didn’t need to sail on the last day to take the title, but were never out of the top 5 when they did sail and scored four firsts – 16 pts: 2,2,3,1,1,1,5,1,(DNC),(DNC)
Mike Holt and Rob Woelfel had to be content with second this time around – 29pts: 1,1,2,4,5,(12),(17),8,4,4 – fending off the late surge by Jan-Philipp Hofmann and Bjorn Brockenhoff 39pts: 8,6,5,3,(24)(11),9,2,1,5. Nathan Batchelor and Sam Pascoe came an outstanding 4th, scoring a race win and plenty of top 5 placings 45pts: 3,11,1,2,11,(12),6,(12),3,8, with Tom Gillard and Harry Briddon scoring an excellent second in the last race to pull them up to 6th overall 67pts: (21),(21),15,10,2,3,19,10,6,2. Ian Pinnell and Alex Davies were 10th, 81pts: (16),16,14,12,3,4,(37),6,16,10.
Report from Mike Holt
History dictates that prior to any 505 World Championship there is a Pre Worlds event to give travelers from around the World the chance to get to see the race venue and give the race team a chance to see what the “main event” will look like and adjust accordingly. This year the PRO was the UK’s Tim Hancock, assisted by a fantastic Polish team who collectively never put a foot wrong. Three races were run for the Pre Worlds, in moderate offshore conditions. 2017 World Champion, Mike Holt sailing this year with Rob Woelfel ran out convincing winners from Sandy Higgins and Paul Marsh from Australia and Lutz Stengel and Holger Jess filling out the podiums last spot.
Following measurement of boats and a lovely opening ceremony with the flag raising for the 14 countries represented, racing started in earnest with two races on day 1. Following up from the Pre Worlds win, America team of Holt and Woelfel got off to the best of starts with two wins in the 10-14 knot conditions that the weather dealt out for the day. Close on their heels were Stengel and Jess with two seconds. British teams Natham Batchelor and Sam Pascoe and Andy Smith and Tim Needham also had solid starts with both teams grabbing a 3rd place finish.
Days 2 and 3 were lost to insufficient breeze which meant for the first time we would be racing on the “lay day”. The wind started light but built to a sailable 8-10 knots for the day and in order to get back on track three races were held. Following up on their good start Batchelor and Pascoe led from start to finish to win race 3, Holt and Woelfel took 2nd and Stengel and Jess took 3rd to put these 3 boats solidly at the top of the leaderboard. Races 4 and 5 went the way of the German team of Stengel and Jess to move them into the lead while Holt and Woelfel had a minor blip scoring a 4/5. Batchelor and Pascoe scored another second keeping them in contention and the British pairing of Tom Gillard and Harry Briddon had a good day, top off with a 2nd in the last one.
Come Thursday and the leaderboard was taking shape, Germany just on top of the US with the British in 3rd. Three more races were on the cards, with the wind again in the 8-10 knot range, with a nasty slop in the bay making boat speed an important commodity. In these conditions Stengel and Jess has an edge, to roll off 2 bullets and a 5th to give them the title with a day to spare as the Holt/Woelfel team wobbled and dropped too many points. Also having a good day and moving up to third in the standings were the French tam of Phillipe Boite and Mathieu Fountaine, winning the other race and scoring well in the other two.
So, the title had gone to the Germans but the other two podium spots were still to play for between a group of 6 boats. The forecast was finally for some wind, but the first race of the day did not receive it and the fleet was “treated” to 6-8 knots. With their sites clearly set on 2nd place, the German team of Jan Philip Hoffman and Felix Brockenhoff won the race, chased by the female team of Nicola Birkner and Angela Stenger also of Germany and Batchelor and Pascoe in third. Close on their heels in 4th was Holt and Woelfel. It was now a two way fight for 2nd overall between the German and American teams.
The final race got underway with the wind having built to a solid 10-15 knots and the Pathfinder team from the US for this race of Tyler Moore and Drew Butner led from the start gun to the finish line, pursued by Gillard and Briddon and Swiss team of Caroline and Philippe Jacot in 3rd. A fourth place was enough for Holt and Woelfel to take 2nd place overall and the 5th place finish in race 10 good enough for 3rd overall for Hoffman and Brockenhoff.
A well run event, on and off the water, superbly supported by SAP with their live coverage and analytics seeing five different countries and 3 continents represented in the top ten. The German team of Stengel and Jess were deserving winners, showing great speed and an ability to get themselves out of trouble in the congested race course. However, they will only hold the title for 5 short months as the class heads down under to Fremantle in January for the 2019 Worlds. Will we se