What a final day it turned out to be for all taking part in the 2019 Dart-18 World Championships, held in Thailand for the first time at the Royal Varuna Yacht Club in Pattaya from Feb. 16-22.
With 10 to 15 knots of winds prevailing through most of the week and accompanied by cloudless skies, the scene was set for the cast of international champion sailors to showcase their handling skills of their multihull craft, and that’s exactly what they delivered as the championship reached an exciting climax.
The early running in the event was made by Dave and Louise Roberts, the 2017 world champions, who won the opening two races in Pattaya to establish an early advantage on Day 1. Their favourites tag however was soon relinquished to Royal Varuna’s own Gareth Owen (Dart world champion 1998 and a previous three-time runner-up) and Hebe Hemming, who fought back to take the Day 2 and 3 honours and set up realistic but unexpected hopes of a ‘home’ victory.
These two rival teams competed fiercely on the water over the whole week and entered the final day’s racing tied on points at the top of the leader board. For Varuna supporters there was to be no fairytale ending however as the Roberts duo proved too strong in the final Races 9 and 10 of the series and duly regained their world title and were deservingly crowned champions once more.
After coming out of retirement from international competition for this event and performing so admirably, there was talk in the club house later of making Gareth Owen an “Official Legend” to mark his achievement of taking the runner-up spot on this year’s podium at an age when many are thinking of slippers and rocking chairs. Congratulations also go to Gareth’s sailing partner Hebe, who (it must be noted) is well under retirement age.
With four points separating places from third to fifth going into the final day, there was a three-way battle for the bronze medal position: Daniel Norman with crew Alyesha Monkman clawed their way to take it with a 21st (discarded) and then a 1st in races 9 and 10 respectively. Herve Le Maux and Nicola Davies slipped to fourth from the day before while David Lloyd and crew Hayley Smith achieved overall fifth with fairly consistent top class sailing throughout the series.
Damrongsak and brother Kitsada, the Thai Hobie champions, dropped to 11th overall which was a very creditable finish, given the excellent standard of competitive sailing among the top tier Dart sailors.
By all visitor accounts, this was an outstanding World Championship and all agreed it was an excellent, well organized event with perfect weather, and the Royal Varuna Yacht Club was proud to have been the venue.
Thanks go to all the organisers, supporters, participants and Royal Varuna Club members who helped out and special thanks to Rear Admiral Wipan Chamachote who represented The Yacht Racing Association of Thailand and presented the awards on the final evening.
With the support of the Yacht Racing Association of Thailand, the 2019 Dart-18 World Championships was generously sponsored by The Ministry of Tourism and Sport, Pattaya City Government, Bangkok Hospital, France Catamaran, Big Chilli, Fiona and Larry, Ocean Marina, Pattaya Mail, Rooster and ThaiBev.