Steve Shepstone from the USA wins Sonar world championship at Cowes

After a postponement to allow the strong westerly to moderate on Friday the Sonar World Championship fleet went afloat for their ninth and last race with Steve Shepstone knowing that he only had to stay within six places of local boat Billy to retain his world championship title.

The race committee set a course with three beats and two runs in the moderate westerly under grey skies. With the line biased to the committee boat, there was only one premature starter, one of the Israeli boats, which returned to restart.

Up the beat, the leaders emerged from the left-hand side of the course and at the first mark it was Dave Franzel in Spring who led the fleet ahead of Billy, with Simon Barter’s Bertie in third and another British boat, Graham and Julia Bailey’s We’re Here in fourth.

At this stage Shepstone’s Nefarious was back in sixth while the overall third placed Fast Forward of Pete Galloway was back in eighth.

Down the run and the fleet split across the course with Billy and Spring taking the left hand side and Nefarious and Fast Forward heading down the middle.

At the leeward gate, Billy had moved through Spring into the lead but Fast Forward was up to third and Nefarious was fifth, one place behind We’re Here.

By the windward mark for the second time, Billy was extending its lead and looking anxiously back in the vain hope that Shepstone would lose places. In fact, he was moving steadily towards the front and rounded the mark in fourth before taking another place on the run to round the leeward mark third, one place behind Fast Forward which had taken over second place from Dave Franzel’s Spring which was now down to fourth.

A final long beat in a building breeze to the finish and the leaders maintained their order with Billy taking the gun ahead of Fast Forward, with Nefarious crossing third to seal the championship victory.

Six American boats arrived at this championship and they left having taken five of the top six places. After Billy, the next best placed non-american boat was We’re Here in seventh, just out of the silverware.

Jervis Tilly sailing Hibiscus won the trophy for the best Island Sailing Club Sonar, finishing in 14th overally, while John Robertson, the current World Disabled Champion, took the top IFDS boat prize, finishing in 15th overall.