At the 29er World Championships, France, NZ and Spain deservedly took centre stage with podium results in that order in Aarhus, Denmark, but it is time the Australian success was trumpeted in this neck of the woods.
Start line action from the 29er Worlds. - World 29er Championships
How about an 'Oi, Oi, Oi’ for fourth, fifth and sixth spots to Aussies in a starting fleet of 216 including the current ISAF Youth World Champions from France and many other elite 29er sailors.
Finishing in fourth place overall has been an awesome thrill for Aussie’s best, Kurt Hansen from Davistown on the NSW Central Coast and his Belmont crewmate Harry Morton.
And in fifth place were early leaders fellow Aussies Charlie Wyatt and Tom Siganto, followed in sixth spot by Jim Colley and Shaun Connor.
A Baltic storm brewing ... it happened on three days of the competition - World 29er Championships
The two 16-year-old Aussies, Kurt and Harry, came very close to a podium finish after a week of tough and keenly contested sailing with the gold going to Lucas Rual and Emile Amoros of France, both 17, followed by Kiwis Markus Somerville and Jack Simpson and Spaniards Marti Llena and Oriol Mahiques.
Asked how the fourth placing compared with his Australian national titles wins in the Sabots and Flying 11 classes, Kurt Hansen said it was 'Up there’ adding that those title victories, 'were fantastic and a big part of how we came to be competing on the waters of Aarhus, Denmark.’ Kurt, who attends Gosford High School, has been sailing since he was eight, beginning in Sabots at Gosford Sailing Club.
Kurt Hansen and Harry Morton - World 29er Championships
'It was a nail-biting end to the series,’ said Kurt.
'The pressure was on with the French guy being the current World Youth Champion and the Spanish also ranked highly in the world, so they were going to be tough to beat.’
Asked about his pre-regatta expectations Kurt said when the number of entries reached 216 'we had to be realistic with our goals’.’
'Harry and I have only been sailing together for six months so our goal was to make the Gold Fleet Series, which is the top 53 boats after the elimination racing series is finished.
The championships series was an open event, with competitors ranging in age from 14-26. 'The elimination series was great, we nailed some of those early elimination races finishing the elimination rounds in fifth place, which safely got us into the Gold Fleet Finals Series,’’ Kurt said. Conditions varied from light to heavy winds, with some pretty wild Baltic Sea thunderstorms hitting the fleets on three separate days.
Australians Harry Price, Gus Williams, Harry Morton, Kurt Hansen. - World 29er Championships
While Kurt focused on steering the fastest course, crewmate Harry leaned out on the wire during the racing to maintain speed. Kurt said Harry was 'Pretty calm about it and just worked really hard every race to get us through to a fourth place.'
The pair are now focusing on the Australian 29 and also the Australian Youth Championships, both of which will be raced on Port Phillip Bay, Melbourne, in December.
'Before those regattas we will race in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and continue training as members of the Yachting NSW Youth Sailing team,' Kurt said.
Other Aussies giving it their all were Harry Price and Angus Williams (30th) and the three 29ers from the Western Australian Team’s 'JESS’ program also had promising results building a strong platform for the WA Team for next year’s 29er Worlds.