Following two days of qualifying series races and the final race series day, the last day of the 2012 Course Racing World Championships provided gusty offshore winds in the range of five to twenty knots. The race committee had a hard time to set a fair course and had to go approximately 2.5 kilometers offshore to place the starting line for the medal racecourse.
The top 10 men and women respectively qualified to compete in this medal race series, with the first race 'virtually' pre-scored from the position in the final series. Men’s overall leader Johnny Heineken (USA, Ozone/Mikes Lab) was not too stoked about having his earlier stages performance shrank into a one point lead over second placed Riccardo Leccese (ITA, Ozone/Mikes Lab) and third ranked Adam Koch (USA, Ozone/Mikes Lab), who came back strong after the first qualifying series days.
Over in the women’s fleet, Erika Heineken (USA, Ozone/Mikes Lab) lost her lead partially in yesterday racing, when second ranked Steph Bridge (GBR, North) won three out of four races. Caroline Adrien (FRA, Aguera/Cabrinha) is going into the medal race series in third position, giving her a pre-scored race of three points.
Racing went underway around noon, with a two lap double gate course set by the race committee for this best-of-three series. Races were conducted under Addendum Q – umpired fleet racing – and the winner of the medal race series would take the glory to win the 2012 course racing world championship.
It was the women’s turn first, with the whole fleet starting on starboard towards the first leg, and the battle was on between Steph Bridge and Erika Heineken. Being only one point separated, it was open for virtually every sailor who qualified for the medal race series to win the event. In the end it was Steph Bridge taking the win in this race, meaning that both Erika and Steph were tied in points now and whoever wins the last race takes the event title. Coming in in third, it was Nayara Licariao (BRA, North) chasing up to Caroline Adrien making it the same battle for third and fourth as it was for the event title. For Katja Roose it was not a good day, setting on the wrong strategy in the first race, dropping her down from fourth to six position after the first medal race.
Next the pressure was on the men’s fleet, and it turned out to become one of the most exciting races ever seen. The start went off with two riders going on port, but at the windward mark the whole fleet arrived within seconds. Event leader Johnny Heineken crashed while tacking, costing him valuable seconds, and it was Adam Koch who came down to the bottom gate after two rounds only a couple of meters ahead of Johnny. After ten minutes and a race length of app 3.5 kilometers, both riders came over the finish line overlapped in true photo finish style. Again the same picture for the next finishers, being only few meters separated when finishing.
Race two for the women came, and now the pressure was full on. A true winner takes all final, same as in the men’s fleet later on. Again Erika and Steph went off with the best start, and the wind was down to five knots know at times, coming back to 15+ - really difficult conditions provided by todays Mistral wind. At the windward gate, Erika already gained quite some distance to Steph in second, but it turned out to become a battle for second, third and fourth as all the top girls were chasing Erika in really close racing. In the end it was Steph who took the second place, only meters ahead of Caroline Adrien and Christine Boenniger (GER, Flysurfer/Royal) again in a photo finish.
The last race of the day saw the all-deciding final of the men, and the tension was high. No one wanted to take a risk, and the fleet went off in a solid 12 knots breeze with puffs up to 20 knots. Everybody was lit on their biggest kites but no one wanted to take the risk of a smaller kite and get caught in a lull. This time Johnny came clear ahead at the weathermark, with tight racing between Adam Koch in second, Riccardo Leccese in third and Julien Kerneur (FRA, RRD) in fourth. Chasing up was Maxime Nocher (FRA, North), who managed to make his way up to third position until the end of the race. Finally it was Johnny taking the win ahead of Adam, and Maxime finishing ahead of Julien in fourth and Riccardo in fifth.
Racing finished at 1530, and the closing ceremony brought the 2012 course racing world championships to an end.
A big thank you goes out to all the 197 competitors from all continents that made this event a great success, and the Yacht Club Cagliari for hosting it. Congratulations to all the winners, first and foremost to the 2012 Course Racing World Champions: Erika and Johnny Heineken!