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Blind Match Racing World Championship at Royal Northern & Clyde Yacht Club - Overall

by Andrew Watson 8 Sep 2018 14:48 PDT 1-7 September 2018

A trio of blind and visually-impaired sailors from the UK has won the Blind Match Racing World Championship 2018.

The Blind Match Racing Worlds – hosted for the first time in the UK by the Royal Northern & Clyde Yacht Club – was won by Great Britain's Sharon Grennan, a completely blind sailor, and her visually-impaired crew: Liam Cattermole and Lucy Hodges MBE.

Grennan's GBR1 team remained undefeated in all of their 13 races over five days of close, competitive racing on the Clyde.

Yesterday, the event was visited by HRH The Princess Royal - Patron of the Royal Northern & Clyde Yacht Club - who watched semi-final racing out on the race area and met with competitors, race officials, event organisers and sponsors ashore.

Speaking after her team sailed to Gold, Sharon Grennan, Gold medallist and skipper of the victorious Team GBR1 said: "This is my first gold medal in a match racing world championship. It's a brilliant feeling and we've had a great time racing against teams from Australia, Canada and the USA, as well as our GBR2 teammates.

"We put a lot of work into preparing for the event and have gotten together for one weekend once a month to train. We've worked a lot on teamwork and communication on the boat, dividing the roles on the boat and sailing in all weathers which has really helped us to perform when it matters.

"Obviously it's a great feeling to win, but more importantly I've really enjoyed meeting sailors from all around the world who've come here to compete. On the water we are very competitive, but off the water there's a lot of camaraderie and a lot we can learn from each other."

Laura Cammidge, Silver medallist and mainsheet trimmer on GBR2 said: "This Championship has been an excellent week of racing and as the days have gone by we've been building on our experience, getting used to sailing well in variable conditions.

"The pre-start in today's Final against GBR1 was very close. We were battling each other and fighting for the best position, but unfortunately on the second windward leg we had a technical issue and our race, and regatta, was over.

"To be competing against the current world champions, the fact we were the only team to challenge them is pretty special.

"Although we didn't get the result we wanted, we pushed them as hard as we could. We're really happy with Silver and the sailing that we've done this week."

Walter T. Raineri and his Team USA took Bronze, winning the Petit Final. Walter said: "What a great way to end my first trip to Scotland by winning the Bronze medal in the Petit Final.

"On a gorgeous day that reminded me of San Francisco – my home port – it was a great team effort with a young crew whose jubilation at the end of today's racing made up for some frustrating moments earlier in the week.

"I hope that the success of this event clears a wider pathway for blind sailing on an international scale, so that all of the success of the event, graciously hosted by the Royal Northern & Clyde Yacht Club, can roll forward into the future to make the next event even better."

Dr Craig Macdonald, Event Chairman of the Blind Match Racing World Championship 2018 said: "We were delighted to welcome teams from Australia, Canada, the United States and two from Great Britain to our Club and racing waters on the Clyde. I've been impressed by the close boat-on-boat racing throughout the last week, especially when you consider that the helm is completely blind and their crew is blind or visually-impaired.

"I'm very grateful to Blind Sailing International Chair Vicki Sheen and World Sailing's Liz Baylis for helping to bring this event to the UK for the first time and deliver a high quality, major sailing regatta which completely surpassed all of my expectations.

"I'd also like to thank the international race officials and umpires, and club members who have made this event such a success both on and off-the-water. This event really highlighted the technical and organisational capability of the members of the Royal Northern & Clyde Yacht Club to successfully host an event of this size and importance."

Liz Baylis, World Sailing Technical Delegate said: "The Royal Northern & Clyde Yacht Club have done a fantastic job running a top-level world championship.

"The race officials and event volunteers worked extremely hard to make the competition fair in all the weather conditions presented by the Scottish summer, and the competitors reported some of the best blind sailing match racing they've ever taken part in.

"After a successful pre-event clinic, the level of competition was very high, and World Sailing is delighted with the way the 2018 edition of the Blind Match Racing World Championships has been delivered."

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Final Results:

Gold – GBR1 (Sharon Grennan, Liam Cattermole, Lucy Hodges)
Silver – GBR2 (Sally Rodrigues, Laura Cammidge, Edward Kitchen)
Bronze – USA (Walter T. Raineri, Bernard J. Bilonic, Brian F. Peoples)
4th – CAN (David Brown, Brian Arthur, Joshua Cook)
5th – AUS (Kylie Forth, Erin McGlew, Jodi Munden)

Update from Lucy Hodges

The final day, first saw the petite finals between Canada and the USA, both teams had a good chance of taking bronze. Canada had given GBR 2 a hard time in the semi-final, just seeing them miss out narrowly for a place in the final. The breeze was steady with a lovely 8-10 knots. Both boats had a little tussle at the start but it was to be the USA that took two start wins and held Canada off to take the Bronze medal.

It was then the final - GBR 1 against GBR 2. The final is best of 5 races. The first race saw GBR 1 holding out GBR 2 before the start. GBR 2 just got away and with two minutes to go got clear over the line without a penalty. But a good strong start by GBR 1 saw them clear ahead at the start, making sure GBR 2 didn't have a look in for the whole race. Taking the first race with a leg in hand.

The second race saw both boats enter clean. GBR 1 controlled GBR 2 at the start, forcing them high of the line. Again, a good clean start by GBR 1 but GBR 2 close behind. A slightly confusing call from the Race Officer over the radio of OCS saw GBR 1 slow. With GBR 2 starting slightly to the right-hand side of the course they headed out on Port. GBR 1 kept to the centre of the course, but a slight wind shift saw GBR 2 gain hight into the mark. That wasn't enough to get in front of GBR 1, who got a good clear cross. Then sailed a solid Downwind leg to take the win.

The third race again saw both boats enter on time and GBR 1 headed across on Starboard looking for a penalty, GBR 2 managed to avoid. Again, a tussle out at the starboard end all the way to the 1-minute gun. GBR 2 lead back to the line with GBR 1 following. GBR 1 saw an opportunity to hook GBR 2, GBR 1 went for the hook but with slight miss communication in the GBR 1 boat. They touched GBR 2 and didn't manage the hook and didn't gain a penalty.

GBR 2 tacked onto Port and cross the line to get clean air and a nice start. GBR 1 was given two penalties for the pre-start incident by the umpires. They quickly took their first one after crossing the line. But with good fast sailing by GBR 1 they rounded the top mark with GBR 2 five boat lengths behind, the race was still on. GBR 1 was first to round the bottom mark and head up the beat but a large tangle with the main and traveller meant they had to sail on the Jib alone. GBR 2 tacked over onto port into clean air and force GBR 1 to follow. Halfway up the final beat GBR 2's mainsheet block broke, in the heat of the moment looked to repair. GBR 1 had sailed straight to lay-line and headed downwind, completing their turn and crossed the line to take the win and become World Champions. GBR 2 limp to the finish after putting up an amazing fight to take silver. GBR 2 only lost to GBR 1 and once to Canada, which in its self-says something for all the hard work GBR Blind sailing are putting in on and off the water.

Big thanks to Royal Northern and Clyde Yacht Club, World Sailing and the Race Officer Anne Malledant and her team. Big thanks to Liz Baylis for the clinic and support during the championships and thanks to all involved.

The teams would like to say a BIG thanks to Ben Hazelidine for running this years program and the support of the last two weeks. To Jonny Cormack for supporting the clinic, Ian Shirra supporting the racing this week and Jonny Stevenson for writing the race reports. Also to the whole team behind Blind Sailing.

This couldn't be done without our amazing sponsor Sunseeker.

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