New World Champions crowned at the Alexela ORC World Championship 2021
A breezy finish to a complex and exciting final day for race fans and sailors alike
Tallinn, Estonia – “The Alexela ORC World Championship 2021 has to be regarded as nothing less than a complete success.”
So said ORC Chairman Bruno Finzi with the roar of the crowd at the prizegiving in the background, the Olympic torch lit once again and hundreds of sailors assembled at the host Pirita Marina venue.
“We had everything this week: light winds, heavy winds, multiple courses, tough competition, great sailors, great organizers and sponsors, and results that came down to the final race in each class. We could not have had a better result to determine our new World Champions.”
These new champions are as follows:
Class A: Michael Berghorn’s Mills 45 HALBTROCKEN 4.5 team from Germany that includes Luke Malloy, Mareike Berghorn, Mikkel Rossberg, Jes Gram Hansen, Hendrik Plate, Sebastian Plate, Konrad Nehrenberg, Justus Reinke, Hasso Höher, Marc Viehöfer, and Linus Döpp.
In Class B: Catalin Trandafir’s Grand Soleil 44 P ESSENTIA44 from Romania that includes Joan Navarro, Piotr Przybylski, Nacho Postigo, Hugo Rochas, Afonso Domingos, Eduard Guta, Andrei Teodorecu, Lars Koridon, and Jochem Schoorl.
And in Class C: Juss Ojala’s J-112E MATILDA team from Estonia that includes Marek Harjak, Karlo Hmeljak, Joachim Aschenbrenner, Arne Vest, Kelly Vest, Priit Berkmann, Christopher Juul, and Felix Andresen.
The interesting stories here on the final Amserv Toyota inshore racing day is how these teams ascended to their Gold medals on a stunning day of racing in 15-20 knots of wind.
In Class A two teams from Germany, HALBTROCKEN and Tillmar Hansen’s TP 52 OUTSIDER, had been battling all week, tied in points going into today. In the first race it was the smaller Mills 45 taking the win on a building breeze that placed them well within the time allowance allowed by the TP 52. This set the stage for a final race showdown, and with 20 knots of wind and a seasoned team, OUTSIDER looked strong, but then disaster struck: the spinnaker fell into the water at the gate and could not be retrieved without HALBTROCKEN racing past and taking the final race to win the Gold. The OUTSIDER team earned Silver medals, and Jani Lehti’s GP 42 MERCEDES-BENZ EQ POW from Finland earned Bronze.
“This team was really solid this week,” said Berghorn. “We worked hard, tried to minimize mistakes, and today especially learned to sail this boat fast downwind. It’s ironic because the previous owners thought this boat was not fairly rated downwind compared to the TP’s, but we are finding the ORC ratings are quite fair for this boat. We have a mostly amateur team, so it is especially gratifying to have the hard work everyone has put in rewarded with Gold medals.”
In contrast the Gold medalists in Class B are a mostly pro team that has been training intensely this year in both the Mediterranean and the Baltic to achieve this result. Their dominance of this class resulted in the largest lead in the event – 6 points.
Tactician Nacho Postigo explained: “We came together in March, raced and trained in Rome, then competed in the ORC Europeans in Capri, some more racing [in Italy], and raced in Valencia before coming here and preparing as well. We did well in the distance race, and this definitely helped the scores. The inshore races were tough, but we are pleased with how we came back with two wins today as icing on the cake.”
Silver medalists in Class B were Aivar Tuulberg’s Swan 42 KATARIINA II from Estonia and Bronze medalists were Gorden Nickel’s X-41 SPORTSFREUND from Germany.
Meanwhile on Course C the Gold fleet was being jumpy: multiple General Recalls caused delays, and when the race finally started, a massive wind shift prompted Class C Principal Race Officer Eckhart Reinke to abandon this race for its lack of “fair sailing.” A new course was set, the black flag kept the fleet back from the line, and the race went off as planned.
For Class C any one of three teams could have been Gold medalists. Ott Kikkas’s 2019 World Champion team on his Italia 11.98 SUGAR 3 had to for sure win every race to defend their title, but also needed their closest rivals to sail much worse to rise above their points gap. In the first race of the day, this looked promising: MATILDA rates very nearly the same – only 0.4 seconds/mile slower – so in the short 5-mile race they needed to be within only a boat length or two to defeat them and yet were well over a minute back in 4th place. Their other rivals – Patrik Forsgren’s modified First 36.7 TEAM PRO4U – were given even more time, some 8 seconds/mile, but ended even further back in 6th place.
So, for the final race the stage was set: MATILDA on 11 points, SUGAR 3 on 12 points, and TEAM PRO4U on 13 points. The breeze was still building to 18 knots and choppy seas, so boat handling had to be perfect…and the seasoned team on SUGAR 3 once again delivered another perfect race, winning this time by nearly a minute in corrected time. The problem for them was the next boat behind was none other than MATILDA without TEAM PRO4U nor any other team close enough get in between them.
So even though tied on points, it would be MATILDA claiming the Gold, SUGAR 3 Silver and TEAM PRO4U Bronze.
Tactician Karlo Hmeljak had just joined the team two weeks ago, but was impressed with the hard work they put in both preparation and racing to achieve this result.
“Here in Estonia the racing in this class has been very active this season, and I think has progressed to be at a very high level,” he said. “And unlike in one-design sailing, under ORC we have to fight for every second the entire race even when ahead because we race against the clock. I think this forces the crews to be very good at all parts of the game all the time.”
All-amateur teams winning Corinthian prizes were Tiit Vihul’s X-41 OLYMPIC from Estonia in Class B and PRO4U in Class C.
Complete results are available at https://data.orc.org/worlds2021.