At the Melges 32 World Championship in Sardinia, Team H.E.A.T. from NRV won the Corinthian World Championship, finishing 4th overall, 2 points behind 1st and tied on points with 2nd and 3rd place. Of the top four finishers, HEAT was the only amateur team.
The top of the Melges 32 league is fiercely contested and populated by professionals. In the middle of it all is the amateur team with helmsman Max Augustin. Regatta after regatta, the team has only improved and is now coming home as Corinthian World Champions – and only two points behind the overall title.
Team HEAT Pitman Lars Raschdorf reports on the hot battle for titles, places and podiums:
Max is sitting next to me on the plane, heading home. He stares at the results list in disbelief: Corinthian World Champion, fourth overall, tied for second and third place after 10 thrilling races. Two tiny, yet all-important points are missing on the ultimate title.
Unlike last year, there is no longer a dominant team. Rather, it is as close at the top as it has been in recent years. All teams, with the exception of us, have finished last at least once in the series. Even the world champion. Two points!
I see the situation in my mind’s eye. Max probably does too: Race 5, we are leading on the last downwind, the gybe is announced too quietly, we have to abort the maneuver and finish third. Race 6, we were two, maybe three seconds too late at the start and don’t get beyond sixth place on the sloping course. There are umpteen chances not to win the world championship and only a few to do it. And we were so close!
Day three of the World Championship, we win the eighth race of the series after a brilliant second cross with a lead. The slide rules in the heads rattle. The WOC is almost over, 80% are done, and we have just taken the overall lead in the field, which is otherwise dominated by professional teams! Stay calm! Easier said than done. In the following race the timing at the start is not quite right and despite good boat speed we finish sixth. Bitter.
Saturday, the last day and the last race. We go into the show down in 3rd place. After 9 races: 1st and 5th place are separated by just 5 points! Mathematically, anything can happen today. And then the weather report:
Eight knots in the morning, then hourly increasing by five knots, up to 28kn the weather models promise. From a direction we don’t know yet. Arriving at the racecourse, we sail in at a relaxed 12-14 knots. Shortly before the start the wind jumps to 16, then to 18 and back to 16 knots. We decide to use the heavy jib, which has a crossover of 18kn plus. All other teams stay on the medium. At the start we might be slightly underpowered, but if the wind forecast is even halfway right, and it looks like it will be, we are better off with the heavy.
We don’t get off to a good start, have to turn away, and arrive at the first mark on the right side of the cross. Since half of the first cross we see constantly over 20kn. The crew hangs itself the soul from the body. While rounding the mark the wind increases to 30kn. The first teams are already chasing under gennaker towards the leeward gate. Three, two, one, hoist. Our gennaker is up and comes to a stop with a bang. A jolt goes through the boat and the speed indicator climbs, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22kn… above us it disintegrates the Hungarians and then we are already on the layline to the leeward buoys. This one gybe must sit. Bam. And already we hammer on toward the gate. At the bottom it’s our turn at the field. One last time hanging for all it’s worth. In these conditions there is no time to think about the overall ranking. That is also good. We arrive at the windward mark in third place.
Once again full throttle. Whoever can stands in the stern and makes sure that the bow does not drill itself too deeply into the next wave.
As a strong third we cross the finish line, and it becomes clear to us: the order of the finishes is pretty much the most unfortunate that could happen to us. The fourth and fifth placed on the previous day pass us today, lying on place 1 and 2, with equal points on place 2 and 3. The leading Norwegian Lasse Petterson is able to secure the title with a fourth place in the last race despite a broken lower shroud. Congratulations!
Even though it feels like a defeat after the short lead in the overall classification, we realize at the award ceremony that we have won the Corinthian World Champion title. As an amateur team we finish fourth overall, tied with the pros in 2nd and 3rd place, a mere two points behind the new World Champion.
Thank you for all your messages and encouragement over the race days!
Your Team, HEAT