by Craig Heydon
Australian sailors Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen have made history with their gold medal at the 2012 49er World Championship in Zadar, Croatia.
Outteridge and Jensen on the final day of the 2012 49er World Championships
The win was Outteridge’s fourth world title and Jensen’s third, with the skipper putting his name in the history books as the first sailor to win four 49er World Championships.
Outteridge has won four of the last five 49er World Championships, having first tasted success back in 2008, alongside former crew Ben Austin, and then claiming the 2009, 2011 and now the 2012, titles with Jensen.
Outteridge and Jensen finished 13 points ahead of New Zealanders Peter Burling and Blair Tuke with Danish duo Allan Norregaard and Peter Lang a further 15 back in third.
The podium at the 2012 49er World Championships - Photo Nikola Sisko
'It’s a great feeling to win a fourth World Championship and my third with Iain,' said Outteridge. 'We didn’t have the best day’s racing today but we were able to show that we can still win when we’re not sailing at our best, we were able to tough it out and get the job done.
'It sends a good message to the rest of the fleet and shows that the hard work we did earlier this year at home is really playing off,' he said. 'Even though we were winning consistently there were some weaknesses in our racing and I think this week has shown that they’re gone now.'
The Australian pair went into the final day with an eight point lead over the Kiwis with two races held early in the day in light conditions to decide the top 10 for the final medal race.
In the tricky conditions Outteridge and Jensen had their worst two results of the event, a 15th and a 12th but kept Burling and Tuke in check to actually extend their lead to 17 points heading into the medal race.
The brief for the medal race to secure the title was simple: don’t finish last, and the Australians made sure of that, crossing the line two places behind the Kiwis in eighth.
'The conditions were really tough today,' said Outteridge. 'The first two races were held in less than five knots. Then the medal race was right in close to shore and it was between five and 10 knots with mega shifts making it really challenging.'
'We’re really happy for the Kiwis to be up there,' he said. 'We’ve been pushing each other for the past two years and it’s rewarding to see both crews at the front. We’ll take a lot of confidence from this into the Olympics and hopefully we can both be there fighting at the front come the medal race in Weymouth.
'We’re only as good as those that we train against and while the results may look easy we can’t do it without those around us and our coach Emmett Lazich is a major part of that,' he said. 'It’s very satisfying to win four World Championships, and three since teaming up with Iain in 2009, and that success was never going to happen without the support of Emmett.'
The pair’s win made it two World Championship titles for the Australian Sailing Team in three days following Tom Slingsby’s victory in the Laser class on Thursday in Germany.
'It’s a big thrill to win any World Championship but it’s extra special to do it in an Olympic year,' said Jensen. 'I think it means more to do it this year. At the end of the day 2012 is all about winning Olympic gold so it wouldn’t have been the end of the world if we hadn’t won, but it’s great to show where we’re at and our strength in a whole range of conditions.
'With the Olympics getting close now we’re feeling quite good as a team,' he said. 'There are a few little things we need to finalise but it’s all coming together and we’re looking forward to getting to Weymouth in a few weeks for more training ahead of the Sail for Gold regatta.'
Outteridge now heads to Venice for the next round of the America’s Cup World Series and the 2012 49er World Champions will be back racing the 49er in at round six of the ISAF Sailing World Cup in Weymouth in early June, their final event there before the London 2012 Olympic Games.
West Australian sailors Luke Parkinson and Jaspar Warren finished 19th overall in the silver fleet in their first World Championship together.
Parkinson and Warren finished 12th and 13th in the two races held on the final day.
Full results can be found at http://www.49erworlds.org/index.php/overall-results/.