The triple-header Olympic classes World Championships finished in Auckland with just Britain’s Dylan Fletcher and Stu Bithell claiming Bronze in the 49er fleet.
Peter Burling and Blair Tuke of New Zealand won a fifth 49er world title to add to the four consecutive victories they enjoyed between 2013 and 2016.
They finished seven points ahead of Erik Heil and Thomas Plossel of Germany.
Fletcher and Bithell looked to be in trouble in the medal race, but finished eighth which was sufficient to hang on to the last medal by a single point.
Fletcher had commented that – he hadn’t been fully firing as he would like here – probably not helped by being dumped as skipper of the British SailGP team while he has been away!
In the women’s 49erFX it came down to a who-beats-who medal race between the Olympic Gold medallists Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze and the reigning World Champions Annemiek Bekkering and Annette Duetz.
The Dutch and Brazilians were in lock step up the beat with wind and wave conditions getting even more challenging than the 49er race seen earlier.
The action started when race leaders and potential bronze medallists Tina Lutz and Susan Beuke (GER 29) went for their gybe and hit a wave midway through – forcing an expensive capsize.
With the rest of the fleet hurtling toward the leeward gate the Dutch played it fairly safe and rounded but the Brazilians, hot on their tail, couldn’t release the spinnaker halyard and ended up in a spectacular capsize with Grael jumping clear of the boat as they flipped over the leeward mark.
Essentially the race for gold was over at that point, with the Dutch guiding their boat safely around the course to claim the gold.
The Danish team of Ida Nielsen and Marie Olsen took a second place in the medal race to claim the bronze.
Bekkering and Duetz are now the only two-time 49erFX World Champions in the history of the skiff class, and they won the European Championship earlier this year as well.
The Dutch may have taken over their status as favourites for Tokyo 2020 next summer.
Britain’s Charlotte Dobson and Saskia Tidey finally found their flair to finish the championship in seventh place, after heroic efforts in the two final series races and finishing with a win in the medal race.
In the mixed Nacra 17 it was a three-way battle for gold, with only three points separating Bissaro/Frascari (ITA), Cenholt/Lubeck (DEN) and Waterhouse/Darmanin (AUS).
Each of these three teams took different paths up the first beat, none of which worked out tremendously.
However Vittorio Bissaro and Maelle Frascari were not to be denied and took Championship victory by just a few boat lengths.
Denmark’s Lin Cenholt and CP Lubeck finished with the same points overall and the silver, while Jason Waterhouse and Lisa Darmanin of Australia took bronze, despite finishing last in the medal race.
Britain’s John Gimson and Anna Burnet who led the early part of the week, finished fourth overall as Ben Saxton and Nicola Boniface clawed back a couple of places to finish sixth . . . two points and two places behind their British Olympic selection rivals.
Where does this leave the Nacra 17 Team GB selection process?
Well, speculation is that a podium place might have clinched it for Gimson and Anna Burnet, but we will never know.
The RYA could now delay selection until after the 2020 Nacra 17 world championships in Geelong, Australia in early February, or even wait until after the Olympic Classes Princess Sofia Regatta at Palma, Mallorca at the end of March.
It is unlikely that the RYA will clarify as they are against any speculation regarding the selection process, which of course they fuel by not stating just what their selection criteria is!
Elsewhere there was a great performance by British Laser sailor Lorenzo Chiavarini (sailing with Kilian Weise) at the Star Sailing League Finals in Nassau.
Chiavarini will be competing in the Laser worlds in Melbourne in early February where another Team GB Olympic spot will also be up for grabs.
Nacra 17 Hyundai Worlds – Final Leaders (52 entries)
1st ITA 5 Vittorio BISSARO and Maelle FRASCARI – – 93 pts
3rd DEN 71 Lin CENHOLT and Cp LÜBECK – – 96 pts
2nd AUS 2 Jason WATERHOUSE and Lisa DARMANIN – – 103 pts
4th GBR 21 John GIMSON and Anna BURNET – – 109 pts
5th ESP 28 Tara PACHECO and Florian TRITTEL PAUL – – 111 pts
6th GBR 91 Ben SAXTON and Nicola BONIFACE – – 111 pts
7th ITA 26 Ruggero TITA and Caterina BANTI – – 115 pts
8th AUT 3 Thomas ZAJAC and Barbara MATZ – – 118 pts
9th ARG 1 Santiago LANGE and Cecilia CARRANZA SAROLI – – 120 pts
10th FRA 56 Quentin DELAPIERRE and Manon AUDINET – – 123 pts
49er Hyundai Worlds – Final Leaders (88 entries)
1st NZL 77 Peter BURLING and Blair TUKE – – 86 pts
2nd GER 4 Erik HEIL and Thomas PLOESSEL – – 92 pts
3rd GBR 6 Dylan FLETCHER and Stuart BITHELL – – 130 pts
4th ESP 97 Diego BOTIN and Iago LÓPEZ MARRA – – 131 pts
5th NZL 7 Logan BECK and Oscar GUNN – – 143 pts
6th AUT 29 Benjamin BILDSTEIN and David HUSSL – – 148 pts
7th FRA 8 Lucas RUAL and Emile AMOROS – – 150 pts
8th NED 194 Bart LAMBRIEX and Pim van VUGT – – 153 pts
9th DEN 30 Jonas WARRERand Jakob PRECHT JENSEN – – 158 pts
10th POL 42 Łukasz PRZYBYTEK and Paweł KOLODZINSKI – – 184 pts
17th GBR 17 Jack HAWKINS and Chris THOMAS
49erFX Hyundai Worlds – Final Leaders (61 entries)
1st NED 1 Annemiek BEKKERING and Annette DUETZ – – 96 pts
2nd BRA 4 Martine GRAEL and Kahena KUNZE – – 110 pts
3rd DEN 7 Ida Marie NIELSEN and Marie OLSEN – – 124 pts
4th NOR 26 Helene NÆSS and Marie RØNNINGEN – – 127 pts
5th GER 29 Tina LUTZ and Susann BEUCKE – – 128 pts
6th NZL 8 Alexandra MALONEY and Molly MEECH – – 133 pts
7th GBR 10 Charlotte DOBSON and Saskia TIDEY – – 135 pts
8th ARG 19 Victoria TRAVASCIO and Sol BRANZ – – 138 pts
9th USA 92 Paris HENKEN and Anna TOBIAS – – 146 pts
10th NED 6 Odile van AANHOLT and Cecile JANMAAT – – 159 pts