Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Gold For Australia & France @ World University Championship

J/80s sailing World University Championship off France (Cherbourg, France)- The 2018 edition of the World University Sailing Championship took place from August 30th to September 6th on the inner harbor of Cherbourg, France. The event was sailed in a matched-fleet of J/80 one-design class sailboats and was hosted by YC de Cherbourg. In the end, the YC Cherbourg PROs- Roland Galliot & Jean Paul Mauduit from France- managed to run a total of 21 qualifying races over three days for the nineteen teams participating from ten nations, then 8 more Championship races for the top 11 teams.

Winning the overall World University Sailing Championship was the AUSTRALIA 2 TEAM comprised of Thomas Grimes, Nicholas Rozenauers, Mitch Evans, and Jessica Grimes.  And, winning the Women’s World University Sailing Championship title was the FRANCE 3 TEAM that also took the bronze overall; their team included skipper Elodie Bonafous, Morgane Keramphele, Anne Guillou, Anna Kerdraon, and Louise Acker.

J/80s sailing World University Sailing ChampionshipOpening Day
It was under the radiant sunset on a Friday night, on “the Green Beach” of Cherbourg-en-Cotentin, that the Opening ceremony of the 2018 World University Sailing Championship took place. The lively ceremony was marked by the presence of an unexpected and distinguished guest.

After each of the 10 delegations marched at the parade of nations, in the presence of 300 spectators and guests, former French Prime Minister and also former Mayor of Cherbourg- Bernard Cazeneuve- made his appearance while the French national anthem played across the sea and sky of Normandy.

Mr. Cazeneuve took the opportunity to thank the founders of the event, Olivier Gosselin and Eric Le Roi, two professors of physical education of the Cherbourg University campus.

Then, French Navy Admiral- Pascal Ausser- officially declared the World Championship “open”.  Thereafter, the festivities include an artistic performance by the students from the University of Normandy.

J/80 at World University Sailing ChampionshipDay 1- Spain takes lead
The regatta started on Saturday September 1st with almost ideal summer sailing conditions in the natural harbour of Cherbourg.

In spite of a good first round of races launched at 10:00am, the wind played on tricks on the competitors throughout the day.  The teams had to be patient since the 19 teams had to wait for their turn in the rotation of thirteen boats to compete on the water.

At the end of the first day, the SPAIN 2 TEAM (skippered by Alberto Basadre Lopez) was leading, followed by FRANCE 2 (skipper Pierrick Letouze) in second and the Australians on AUSTRALIA 2 in third place (skipper Tom Grimes).

”This day was difficult, because of the very unstable wind and the very good level of the other competitors. The championship lasts several days, this is why our objective was to start strong the race for the title,” commented Alberto Basadre Lopez, skipper of the SPAIN 2 team.

”We got organized and psyched up, that gave us confidence quickly, but we cannot lose any momentum, because it is a tightly-packed fleet. You should miss nothing, because otherwise we pay the price in boats lost! And, with the changes of wind, the waiting onshore between the two rotations was favorable for us,” explained Pierrick Letouzé, skipper of the crew FRANCE 2.

J/80s sailing off Normandy, FranceDay 2- Leaders confirm their position
The second day produced another gorgeous day of sailing, sunny, windy, and lots of races run for the enthusiastic university sailors.

On the water, the Spanish crew of SPAIN 2 again showed their domination by winning two races, allowing them to keep their leadership position. The Australians on AUSTRALIA 2 were not to be outdone, because they jumped into second place, followed closely by the French crew on FRANCE 2 and the French women’s team on FRANCE 3 (skipper Elodie Bonafous).

“It was a beautiful day for us, especially at the end when the wind increased in strength. We were able to adapt our tactics and learn from our errors from the day before. Little by little, we hoped to be the top qualifier for the Championship series, said Tom Grimes of AUSTRALIA 2.

“We are satisfied by our performance, especially with the 11th race. Our tactics and strategy was much better in the afternoon, thanks to a more stable and more regular wind that helped us sail faster!” commented Elodie Bonafous, skipper of women’s crew on FRANCE 3.

Day 3- Money time! Last day to qualify!
The third day of the regatta was the last day to qualify.  And, it turned out to be the windiest so far, with 9 races being run for the fleet.

Winning the qualifiers was Grimes’ AUSTRALIA 2 team, followed by Bonafous’ all-women FRANCE 2 team in second, Lopez’s SPAIN 2 team in third, Letouze’s FRANCE 2 crew in fourth, and Jonathan Yeo’s SINGAPORE 1 crew in fifth (the top Asian boat).

The Championship round then took place over the next two days, with all teams starting from scratch with zero points.  So, for many teams that presented an excellent opportunity to take lessons learned and experiences from the qualifying round for another chance to get on the podium!

French women- sailing J/80 in World University ChampionshipDay 4– The French Vikings Prevail!
After five races run in 10-12 knots of wind, there was no question which team was in command of the fleet- the French Vikings from Normandy on FRANCE 2; skipper Pierrick Letouze won three race to take the early lead in the Championship round.

Following them were the two Australian teams, Grimes’ AUSTRALIA 2 in second with a 1-2-3-6-5 tally and Ethan Pierto-Low’s AUSTRALIA 1 in third with a 2-8-5-2-2 record.  Settling into fourth position with a 3-5-7-9-3 scoreline was none other than Bonafous’ all-women Brittany crew on FRANCE 3. Rounding out the top five was the top Chinese crew, CHINA 1 skippered by Chuancheng Zhou with a respectable tally of 6-4-1-7-9.

”We had an performance in our qualifying round, but we recovered well and analyzed our errors. Then, there was a great alchemy with our team and we felt comfortable in the harbor, improving our speed and tactics. We are going to give everything tomorrow!” said skipper Letouzé on FRANCE 2.

”We have tried our best since the beginning of the competition, but the level of the other competitors is rather high. We are satisfied by our place in the general ranking, because we do not have much experience at this level of competition. Today, we took time to understand and adapt to the shifty winds in the harbor and to the weather report; that helped us a lot! Plus, we won a race, a minor victory perhaps, but very encouraging for us!” commented Chuancheng ZHOU, skipper of CHINA 1.

Australians- winners of J/80 World University ChampionshipDay 5- Thrilling Finale- Gold for Australia and France!
The final day was a bit like Muhammad Ali’s “Thrilla from Manila” fight for the World Boxing Championship belt many blue moons ago. However, this times it was the “Wonders from Down Under” that delivered the final hammer blow by winning the final race to take the title!  It was AUSTRALIA 2, skippered by Tom Grimes, that closed the last three races with a 1-6-1 to repeat as World University Champions (last won in 2016)!

Starting out the day with a 7-point lead over the Australians, it was FRANCE 2’s regatta to lose over three races.  In short, that is exactly what they did.  Under tremendous pressure to defend their “home court” advantage, Letouze’s Normandy team (Paul Cousin, Marie Zugolaro, Arthur Richer, & Swann Pain) just could not put it together on the last day, opening with a 6th and closing with two 4ths to take the silver medal, two points behind the Australians.

”We are really happy to win in Cherbourg! The level of the championship was very high, we were very happy to be here, and the French teams sailed very well. We had to fight hard all the way up to the end. Bravo to them, too!” said Jessica Grimes, crew on AUSTRALIA 2.

Women J/80 World University Sailing ChampionsThe surprising, and quite heart-warming, performance arose in the form of five French women! Bonafous’ all-women team from Normandy tied the AUSTRALIA 2 team for 2nd best record on the final day!  Their 3-3-2 was good enough to earn them the Bronze in the Open Division and the Gold for the Women’s Division!

“It was a great championship, with an excellent atmosphere, with a high level of competition on the water, and perfect conditions. It was fantastic to meet other crews, which come from everywhere, and the organization was really at the top!” commented Morgane Kéramphèle, crew on FRANCE 3.

Chinese women sailors- World University Sailing ChampionshipRounding out the top five were two more performances that are notable.  Having barely qualified in the first round, Aoi Makino’s crew on JAPAN 1 knew they had their work cut out for them to post a respectable regatta and be proud of the outcome.  After opening with a sub-par performance in the first 5 races (4-7-8-5-11), Makino’s crew (Shunsuke Mori, Kamikaze Takasaki, Tatsuya Takayama, & Daiki Tomita) finally figured it all out on the last day, closing with the best record for the day- a 4-1-3!  As a result, they leapt into 4th place, winning the tiebreaker on 39 pts each!

Taking 5th place on the tie-breaker countback was the Dutch crew on NETHERLANDS 1, skippered by Jelmer Van Beek with crew of Wietse Pijlman, Jorden Van Rooijen, & Ruger Vos.

The next World University Sailing Championship will take place at Lago di Ledro, Italy, in 2020!

Watch YouTube sailing videos here
Day 2 highlights-
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