04 Nov Massey and Noble are the new International 14 World Champions
The only people to get wet in Warnemunde today were Archie Massey and Matt Noble, after they were thrown in the water for becoming the new International 14 World Champions. Other teams just below Massey and Noble on the leaderboard were hoping the race officer would send the 90-boat fleet out for one last race, but with the westerly breeze gusting in excess of 30 knots, that was never a sensible option. After waiting in vain for the wind to abate, the last race was cancelled and the championship was complete.
So the Anglo-American Massey-Noble duo were crowned World Champions, thanks to a superlative performance in the strong winds that swept across the Baltic Sea this week, where they won three of the six races. Anglo-Australian partnership Jarrod Simpson and Grant Rollerson took second overall, just edging out Australians Dave Alexander and Cameron McDonald on countback.
With the fleet experimenting with ultra-lightweight PBO rigging in place of the customary stainless steel wire, along with developments in T-foil rudder technology and square-top mainsails, success this week was running the balance between ultimate speed and reliability. Even Massey came dangerously close to losing his grip on the championship when his new rudder gave way, forcing him to complete the week with a borrowed replacement.
For boats that measure just 14ft long and 6ft wide, the modern International 14 is capable of immense speeds, in excess of 12 knots upwind and over 20 knots downwind. The T-foil rudders enable them to be driven harder and faster downwind than more powerful skiffs, and this heady mix of technology and adrenalin is what is driving new sailors into the fleet.
Even some of Britain’s Olympic sailors tried their hand at 14 sailing for the first time this week, with Dave Evans and Simon Hiscocks gradually getting to grips with the quirks of the International 14 to finish 11th overall.
While the top places were dominated by British and Australian teams, the biggest nation in numerical terms is the fast-growing German fleet. Best of the Germans were Olly Voss and Jens Holscher who finished in 12th place. After 17 years competing in the 14, Voss was contemplating retirement into family cruising, but he has been tempted to postpone delivery of the X-99 yacht until after the next Worlds.
Warnemunde turned on a spectacular, high-thrills week of racing in strong wind and big waves. Now the fleet’s attention turns towards the next World Championship will take place on Sydney Harbour in January 2010. With the last two World titles having gone to American and British teams, the Aussies will be working hard to ensure a home victory in their famous harbour.
Final top six results overall
1. Archie Massey/Matt Noble (GBR), 15 points
2. Jarrod Simpson/ Grant Rollerson (GBR), 19
3. Dave Alexander/Cameron McDonald (AUS), 19
4. Roger Blasse/Andrew Gilligan (AUS), 25
5. Mike Lennon/ Andy Rice (GBR), 27
6. Martin & Neale Jones (GBR), 34