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182 entries is the largest fleet in the 43 year history of the International Contender Worlds. This number became less surprising as the entrants started turning up to the legendary venue to find one of the most perfect sailing settings in the world boasting thermal winds, astounding scenery and slick race management. This championship more than others was the one to win with every one of the top guys entered getting in the first 25 would be a task itself.

The prelude to the main event was a 4 race pre-World's that gave some indication of form, but with only 90 boats competing some sailors chose to keep their powder dry. 16 knot wind gave sailors a glimpse of the sparkling conditions they desired. The large number of OCS and DNFs in this series was put down to sailors using the series as practice but the eventual winner Christophe Engel needed to fight off a lot of class to win. The Young German has stepped up a level this year and with this victory marked himself as a favourite for the big one, and in doing so won a trophy the size of a bucket.

With the preamble completed the fleet looked to the main event with speculative trepidation. A 2 day measurement carried out with typical Italian relaxed style added to the building excitement to get sailing. The size of the fleet meant that there would be 2 starts of 90 boats randomly selected for 6 qualifying races before the final gold silver split was made for the final 4 races.

Day 1 belonged to Brit Simon Mussell, winning both of his races, Simon is arguably the fastest sailor in the world upwind, proving here not just his speed but a knack of using this speed in the right direction consistently. Even poor starts were not able to scupper his progress. The other races were won by Aussie newcomer mark Bulka fresh from winning Kiel week and Andrea Bonezzi merely the 8 time world Champions. 2nd behind Simon on learder board was seasoned contenderer Soren Dulong Andreasen with 2 2nds. In such a big fleet with two of every score available in the qualifying consistency was paying.

Overnight a lot of talk centred on how to overcome Mussell's speed upwind, as he could reasonably expect to be 100 yards in front by the first mark. Day 2 came with less wind and a short postponement, the race committee got it bang on as the wind started to fill just as the last boats hit the start area. The first start if the day would still kick off in a shifty 8-9 knots. Luckily for the fleet this added a random factor that pushed Simon down too 10th at the windward mark. Christophe Engel showed he could do it at the big show and took his chance to carve a lead and could not be caught, in building breeze Mussell got back to 2nd but this was his first dropped point; however his closest rival was down in 6th. In the 2nd start Brit Gary Langdown lead early on before Christophe Homier (GER) used his athletic technique to row down the run to win just ahead of Gaz. By the next race the Wind was back and Normal service had resumed with Simon pulling another bullet out with Soren Dulong Keeping the pressure on with a 1st in the second start.

The end of day 2 had narrowed down the list of hopefuls for the title but all were commenting on the difficulty in getting into the top 20 such has the strength of the fleet. Mussell and Andreasen had a clear lead with Mark Bulka and Christophe Homier and Engel and of course Andrea Bonezzi reaping low scores to keep in the hunt, Stuart Jones was doggedly notching up enough good scores to hang in there.

A longer wait for wind on the final qualifier day (3) had the fleet starting at 3ish in 18-20 knots. Only one set of starts were able to be completed with the threat of a thunders storms sending the fleet home early. This single race saw Mark Bulka get back to the front after a poor day with Mussell also counting another first and extending the gap to Soren.

The fleet were split for day 4 into the final gold and silver fleet with 4 races planned, and with only one discard available in the finals they would count for more. Out on the water this extra tension built as the wind refused to play games and it looked as though for the first time light wind would prevail. Just enough breeze turned up after an hour wait with the gold fleet getting away 1st time a shifty first beat messed about with the standard pecking order but form was starting show with Andreasen pulling up to 1st from 10 only to drop back to 5th on the last beat Mark Bulka took the line with GBR’s Mussell and Jones gaining massively from going hard right, so much so that they both giggled there way over line.

The second race turned out to be even more patchy but this time Soren made no mistake to win from pleased Dutchman Dirk Lafleur and Andrea Bonezzi in 3rd. The big story was that Simon Mussell had had a tough race and dropped to 10th this single result meant that Simon was 2nd to Soren in the standing for the first time.

The next day was all about Simon versus Soren another race would see a discard used in final race series and Si would drop a 10th. Soren however knew he had to beat Si and come higher than 7th in the next race to maintain the lead. Sadly the wind failed to play and no racing was possible for the first time in the championships handing Soren the title.

Simon Mussell had lead the fleet right until the end and was the fastest man out there his disappointment to lose the lead without sailing was obvious no-one want it to end in this way. This sentiment was shared by Soren Dulong Andreasen who made it clear that he would have preferred to sail the showdown. Nothing should be taken away from Soren who has been a consistent top 3 performer for years; his ability to compete in the breeze at Como despite his 74Kg frame illustrates the skill of the man.

The prize giving in front of the lake rewarded the top 25 sailors quite fitting considering the difficulty most sailor had getting anywhere near these spots. GBR’s Keith Paul took the Grand master with the Master prize being claimed by Stuart Jones who also finished 6th without too much fuss. The silver fleet was led from start to finish by Francesco Maria De Falco. The top 3 demonstrated the diversity of the fleet Denmark’s Andreasen at 74 Kgs with GBR’s Mussell and Australia’s Mark Bulka closer to 100kg.

The boat designs in the top ten were mostly wooden Bonezzi (6) with the top sailor tending to hang to these long lived beauties, but this year for the first time epoxy boat had begun to make an impression with both Bonezzi and Wavelengths appearing.

This had been one of the best events for the contender class in numbers, fleet quality, venue and management. Thanks must go to Gravadona AVAL CDV and the Italian Contender Class for the organisation of this stunning event. The Class now looks to another stunning venue, the Belmont 16ft club on Lake Macquarie in Australia for the 2014 World Championships.

 

Rank Nat Sail Helm Total Nett
1st DEN 1 Søren Dulong Andreasen 20 14
2nd GBR 2420 Simon Mussell 18 16
3rd AUS 2571 Mark Bulka 37 25
4th GER 551 Christoph Homeier 30 25
5th ITA 11 Andrea Bonezzi 50 26
6th GBR 2465 Stuart Jones 46 38
7th GER 2417 Christoph Engel 46 42
8th ITA 69 Michele Benvenuti 51 42
9th DEN 2352 Jesper Nielsen 67 51
10th ITA 47 Giovanni Bonzio 66 54
11th GBR 2315 Ben Holden 146 58
12th GER 2476 Volker Niediek 76 59
13th ITA 2561 Antonio Lambertini 149 61
14th ITA 59 Davide Fontana 85 66
15th NED 2544 Dirk Lafleur 92 70
16th GER 2527 Dirk Müller 102 72
17th NED 9 Paul Verhallen 85 74
18th GBR 720 Graham Scott 104 85
19th ITA 40 Luca Bonezzi 126 87

 

 

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