The final day of racing at the Hobie 16 World Championships ended with more volleyball than sailing, as the wind failed to materialise and racing was called off at 3pm by the PRO, Mr David Brookes.
With a total number of six races sailed in the Semi-Finals & Finals, the new Hobie 16 World Champions are the team of Jerome Le Gal and Enrick Obert, representing France and hailing from New Caledonia in the South Pacific. Le Gal and Obert, the reigning Hobie 16 European Champions, were clearly the team to beat from the outset with a speed advantage over the rest of the fleet and consistency in finishing places, unmatched at the event .
Le Gal has gradually improved his positions in the overall fleet at World Championships since the 2002 Worlds were held in his home waters of New Caledonia. At the 2002 event, Le Gal finished 4th in the Youths, and a very commendable 10th in the Opens, showing that he had the skill and composure to match the top sailors. At the more recent Hobie 16 Worlds in Fiji, Le Gal improved to an impressive 6th place in a exceptionally strong fleet but inconsistency kept him from the podium.
However, in this event, Le Gal has been a model of consistency with his first four races never outside the top four placings. However, things did not always go Le Gal's way, with the fifth and final race of the event proving to be extremely difficult with a 13th place finish. Following a protest and rescheduled hearing, Le Gal was subsequently disqualified in this race for a port/starboard incident. However, as this was his discard race, and with no further racing on the final day due to lack of consistent wind, Le Gal and Obert were tonight crowned 2010 Hobie 16 World Champions.
In second place was former Hobie 16 World Champion Gavin Colby, and crew Sasha Marks from Australia. While consistency was the key to their finishing place, they were unable to match the speed of the New Caledonia's finishing one place behind in three of the four races. Another Australian team, Darren Smith and Jasmine Hill finished in third place, again with consistent but not race winning results being the key.
With the wind failing to materialise, the beach games flourished this afternoon with the volleyball court being the main focus of attention, and spectators at the beach bar applauding the skills of the participants. Official scorers, referees and line judges were appointed, and any disputed line calls were dealt with swiftly.
Every now and again at Hobie sailing events, there is a special moment that goes down into folklore. At this event, it will clearly be the ‘Bike Raffle’. For 13 days of racing, plus the one week of boat building, a team of committed local volunteers (mainly English language students) moved boats around the beach, helped competitors get to the water, and have done everything humanly possibly to make sailors from around the world feel welcome in Weihai.
Several sailors had purchased bicycles to get from their hotel to the regatta site, so to thank the boat volunteers, Lucinda and William Edwards from South Africa organised a raffle of these almost new bikes to go to the volunteers on the beach. The Hobie Factory chipped in with signed Hobie flags and other gifts, and in a break in the beach activities, the bikes were raffled off to the local beach boys, and flags presented to individual volunteers. It was a fantastic coming together of sailors from around the world and the young students of Weihai that will clearly be the defining moment of the regatta. The genuine goodwill of the students was clearly evident and will be remembered by all sailors.
The city of Weihai is now firmly a Hobie City, with a new clubhouse and a new commitment for ongoing Hobie sailing. While Jerome Le Gal and Enrick Obert were crowned Hobie 16 World Champions, the real winners must surely be the local community and their newfound commitment to the "Hobie Way of Life".
Open Finals - Overall Results
- FRA J.Le Gal/E.Obert Total pts: 8 (1,2,1,4,57)
- AUS G.Colby/S.Marks Total pts: 15 (5,3,2,5,26)
- AUS D.Smith/J.Hill Total pts: 17 (8,3,3,3,35)
- RSA W.Edwards/L.Edwards Total pts: 19 (2,6,9,2,20)
- AUS A.Worrall/W.News Total pts: 21,1,2,17,1,27)
- AUS R.Waterhouse/K.Waterhouse Total pts: 21,7,7,1,6,12)
- AUS C.Owen/S.Ferris Total pts: 23,4,1,14,12,6)
- AUS T.Booth/E.Sturgeon Total pts: 30 (9,8,16,2,11)
- FRA M.Orion/H.Charlotte Total pts: 31,11,22,7,4,9)
- FRA A.Cailleux/T.Galea Total pts: 35,8,13,5,9,17)