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Widnall/Lindblad win 2013 World Championships in Fishers Island

posted Oct 7, 2013, 9:10 AM by Danielle Lawson   [ updated Oct 7, 2013, 9:10 AM ]

The final race was sailed in typical Fishers Island light air, as the race began, Charlie Van Voorhis of Fishers Island led the championship by 5 points over Widnall/Lindblad. Van Voorhis started at the boat, and Widnall/Lindblad started just to leeward of them. Both immediately tacked onto port, and sailed slowly up the course (boats speeds only reached 3.5-4.5 knots on the first beat). To their left, Peter McCausland of Nantucket had the best of the racing in the early going. On the right, slowly, Van Voorhis extended to the right and eventually was able to tack across Bill.  McCausland rounded the weather mark first, John Henry led a group from the middle of the course to round second. Van Voorhis was third, and Widnall/Lindblad rounding in seventh position. Not the opening beat Widnall/Lindblad wanted, not by a long shot.


On the first run, Widnall/Lindblad sailed with the fleet for the first half of the run, then gybed to port and sailed with their air clear for the last part of the leg.  Coming into the mark fast, late and on starboard helped them climb up to fifth place. Two places ahead of them, Van Voorhis, rounding third, seemed to misjudge the current at the mark and brushed against it. By the time he had done his turn to exonerate himself, he had fallen to sixth place, with the boats in seventh through ninth place nipping at his heels.


On the second beat, the breeze eased slightly and all the competitors tacked to find clear air to sail a long port tack up the course. Widnall/Lindblad sailed up the racecourse in fourth place, directly above Van Voorhis, who eventually tacked to starboard, crossing behind Widnall/Van Voorhis to tryThe shifting light air, plus the current, made it possible to almost sail the entire weather leg on port tack.   At the mark Windnall remained in fourth, but Van Voorhis fell back to eighth.


 At this point, beginning the second run, and in these positions, Van Voorhis still held a one point advantage -- and, in the case of a tie, Van Voorhis would hold the tie-breaker.  And in the dying breeze, all the competitors would be thinking that this run could be the final leg of the course. Team Marblehead would need to pass a boat, and Van Voorhis would have to lose a position for Widnall/Lindblad to end up the World Champion.  Marblehead's target was John Henry of Northeast Harbor.  In the light air, could Marblehead get on John Henry's air, and get past him?   Marblehead followed about five boatlengths behind John Henry on starboard. But when John Henry gybed to port, Marblehead gybed immediately, and then slowly, floating their spinnaker, worked to sail a slightly lower course closing the distance to Henry.  Eventually, with about 750 meters remaining in the leg, Windnall/Linblad had John Henry's air, forcing John Henry to gybe away. Widnall had secured the pass, now, but would he be able to hold his position?


Behind them, Van Voorhis was looking forward, focussing on passing boats on this light air run.  One third of the way down the run, Van Voorhis gybed to port, crossing behind their group, sailing toward the center of the race course.  And with 600 yards to go, still in eighth place, Van Voorhis gybed back to starboard. Ahead of Van Voorhis, Jim Bishop was holding his position, but behind him, David Schoeder (also of Northeast Harbor) was closing the gap. 


As the boats approached the finish, Widnall/Lindblad had maintained their third, gliding across the line comfortable ahead of John Henry. But David Schoeder, bringing pressure down to the finish and sailing two knots faster than Van Voorhis, closed the distance and edged his bow over the line just ahead of Van Voorhis, claiming eight place, and relegating Charlie to ninth..  It is hard to believe, but after that long, nail-biting run, that little bit of breeze in David Schoeder's sails, and those few feet difference at the line changed the results of the event.


The final scores - Widnall/Lindblad 34 points, Van Voorhis 35 points and Penny Simmons (Bermuda) 37 points.  


Congratulations Bill Widnall on your tenth World Championship. Congratulations Matt Lindblad, on your first!!  It is an amazing accomplishment for both of you!

-Greg Mancusi-Ungaro