Lindsay Irwin and Andrew Perry win protest which lifted them to 10th in the last race - enough for an overall championship win

It was all silence and anticipation on shore as the spectators waited to hear the first roundings at Mark 1 of the last race of the 2005 International 14 worlds in Auckland. And what they heard was a surprise: only one of the first five boats to round the upwind mark had been in the top ten places yesterday, and that was AUS 628 with Jason Beebe and Tim Berg.

Of the four leading contenders to win the regatta, only RMW Marine’s GBR 1513 were in the first 20 to round the mark, coming around 9th. Regatta leaders Lindsay Irwin and Andrew Perry (AUS 631) rounded 32nd.

As matters stood at the beginning of the race, Stevie Morrison and Ben Rhodes in GBR 1513 had 18 points overall, and Lindsay Irwin and Andrew Perry in AUS 631 had 7. But with Irwin’s big deficit at the first mark the question now was, could the Aussies climb up enough to be less than 12 boats behind Stevie Morrison and win the regatta.

At the beginning of the last beat Morrison was 3rd and Irwin was 18th, meaning Irwin needed to gain only three more places to win the worlds. But the other pair of RMW sailors, Alister Richardson and Ian Barker in GBR 1516, sailed with Irwin out to the left-hand side of the course during the final beat. Irwin finally got past them just before the finish line to take 14th for the race, which would not have been enough for the regatta win.

A subsequent protest by Irwin (AUS 631) against the tactics used by GBR 1516 was upheld by the International Jury. As a result AUS 631 was awarded redress which lifted him to tenth place in today’s race and gave him the World Championship.

The rest of the race was exciting as well. CAN 586’s Kris Bundy and Jamie Hanseler won the race, Morrison took second, and Beebe and Berg held on to their good position, taking third. USA 1150’s Ron Boehm and International 14 President Peter Mohler were happy with their 4th. “It was a great race for us,” said Mohler. “It was a beautiful day with a steady breeze. We went right, got a 20 degree lift and had good boat speed which brought us around the first mark in first. It was excellent racing, really fun.”

James Fawcett, who took third overall for the regatta, also thought the racing was great today. Starting the week with broken gear put the pressure on, but their consistent results kept them in the running.

Auckland’s Dan Slater and Nathan Handley joined the top regatta placers, coming in fourth overall. They thought they were over the start line early and came back to start again, which put them behind from the beginning. Given that, their 16th place finish was excellent, and assured them of 4th place in the Worlds. “If anyone had told us at the beginning of this thing that we’d finish in the top 4, I’d have been pretty happy,” said Slater. AUS 632’s Brad Devine and Denis Jones rounded out the top five.

The next International 14 Worlds will be held in Long Beach, California in 2006.