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eSailing World Champion crowned at live final in Alicante

by World Sailing 9 Jan 04:11 PST 8 January 2023
eSailing World Champion crowned at live final in Alicante © World Sailing

Alexandre Kowalski (AlexK - RS) of France swept to victory in the 2022 eSailing World Championship Final in front of a live crowd at the Ocean Live Park in Alicante, Spain, to take home the title and a cash prize courtesy of Virtual Regatta.

The 10 best eSailors from around the world met in person to decide the winner over 12 races using F50, Laser, Far East 28r, 49er, Nacra 17, Offshore Racer, Star and J70, with the final race worth double points.

A total of 70,000 new players began the season and each of the top 10 has had to navigate a year-long championship to end the season in the top ten places. Positions were also awarded to the winners of major regattas and Special Events.

AlexK - RS took the lead after race 7, in the J70 class, when just five points separated the top three. He narrowly missed out on victory in a very close race 8 but maintained a four-point lead over Hidde - RS, who took the line honours, as the gap widened to nine points to Farley - RS in third. From then on, AlexK - RS was able to extend his lead. He won the ninth round, leaving closest challenger - Hidde - RS back in seventh. Farley - RS made a late surge in races 10 and 11 when AlexK - RS struggled, reducing the gap to just six points and then three going into the medal race with Hidde - RS 14 points back in third.

The stage was set for a nail-biting medal race worth double points, offering one last chance for someone to emerge from the fleet and take victory - like last year when Carlos Parejo (UOL Carlos Parejo) of Spain shocked everyone by leaping from sixth position into first place in the final race.

History nearly repeated itself as Rolex World Sailor of the Year nominee Bart Lambriex (NED) took the victory and jumped from seventh to third, but crucially AlexK - RS was able to finish in third, three places ahead of nearest challenger Farley - RS and claim overall victory by nine points.

Speaking after the race, Alexandre said, "It's amazing, because all ten players tonight were very good. From the first race to the last, I did not know who would win. It's a big surprise and I am very happy. Two races before the medal race I saw there was a little gap and maybe we can play for the title, but not before the medal race did I think it was really possible."

Runner-up Arthur Farley said, "I had a really good start in the medal race but then I had to take a penalty. After that it was finished. I am super happy for Alex, he was great. This was my third final, I enjoy playing, especially with my team - called RS - and it's really good to see us come out on top."

Final Standings: (display name in brackets)

1. Alexandre Kowalski (AlexK - RS) FRA
2. Arthur Farley (Farley - RS) GBR
3. Bart Lambriex (Bart Lambriex) NED
4. Gaétan de Kat (gadeK) FRA
5. Jonathan Koch (UOL Roxyjoni) GER
6. Hidde Schraffordt (Hidde - RS) NED
7. Amos Di Benedetto (AmosDB) ITA
8. Yannis Kokonias (GRE-9 LDLN) GRE
9. Filippo Lanfranchi (Velista 71 LDLN) ITA
10. Alberto Carraro (MCES-Alberto) ITA

Scott Over, World Sailing Commercial Director, said, "The growth of eSailing over the past five years has been incredible to see, and to welcome such a high-quality fleet for the first in-person final since Bermuda in 2019 shows the strength of the scene. Congratulations to all 10 players for getting to the final; the eSailing World Championship was intense all year and continues to evolve into one of the most exciting eSports around. After the eNations Cup, the eSailing World Championship has shown the depth of the sport and the potential for sailors and non-sailors alike to test themselves in true-to-life scenarios on some of the fastest boats in international sailing. I would like to thank The Ocean Race and the city of Alicante for hosting here ahead of the start of one of the world's most iconic races."

Philippe Guigne, founder and CEO of Virtual Regatta, added, "The calibre of competition in both this season's eSailing Nations Cup and World Championships has been higher than ever before. Both events have set the standard for future seasons to follow. We are delighted to see so many new players taking part for the first time and look forward to the continued growth of the platform as we now move into the 2023 season."

The eSailing World Championship Finals were supported by World Sailing and Virtual Regatta, alongside The Ocean Race and the Generalitat Valenciana a través de Distrito Digital de Alicante.

The event also marked the opening of the Ocean Live Village, the location of leg one of The Ocean Race 2022-23 on 15 January 2023.

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