The Four XXXX, Channel 10, 41st International 505 Class World Championship was held at the Townsville Sailing Club, Townsville, Queensland, Australia, April 10-18, immediately following the 505 Australian Championships and the 505 pre-worlds which were April 1-9, and 7-9 respectively.
The 505 class is raced in 18 countries on five continents, and laid claim to being the strongest International high performance dinghy class by having 202 505s racing at the same time! European 505 sailors who were not able to go to Australia raced in an event concurrent with the 105 boat pre-world Championship, the Europe Cup event in Le Lavandou France, with 97 boats!
Races were 505 Worlds format, with a rabbit start, a beat, two reaches, another beat, then a run, then a beat, two more reaches and a final beat. Each leg was over 1.5 miles long. Only one race a day was run. Every race had at least some trapezing and planing, though winds never went over 20 knots.
TSC is a small three year old club, but a small group of organizers orchestrated an event that was described as the “best ever” Championship in the 505 class’s history at the final presentation banquet. Apart from the incredible sailing conditions, two great presentation banquets and other social events, most competitors and their families spent a memorable lay day snorkeling and scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef. A journalist covering the event described it as “ . . .the best World Championship - in any class” - he had covered in his 30 year career.
505 sailors from Great Britain, France, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Switzerland, Canada, USA, South Africa and Hong Kong joined a large Australian contingent - the 505 is the largest high performance dinghy class in Australia - forming a large, very competitive fleet. The fleet included all 505 World Champions from the last ten years, and several more from earlier years, including 1959 and 1960 505 World Champion Marcel Buffet, who is still racing 505s at 73 years of age. There were a number of top junior sailors, and several couples including Alex Murray and husband Iain Murray, of 18 foot skiff and America’s Cup fame.
1992 and ‘94 505 World Champions, Chris and Darren Nicholson - household names in Australia after Chris won the 18 foot skiff Gran Prix Series - won the 505 Australian Nationals, while four time 505 World Champion Krister Bergstrom, with crew Martin Westerdahl, won two of the three pre-worlds races and finished 7th in the other, winning the 105 boat pre-worlds.
The US team came out strong in the first race of the World Championship, with late substitution for Pete Melvin who had broken his knee cap in a catamaran accident, Jeff Miller, and Mike Martin, winning the first race and Howard Hamlin/Cam Lewis finishing second.
Britons Paul Towers/Dan Johnson won the second race, while Hamlin/Lewis were 4th. Hamlin/Lewis won the 3rd race vaulting them into the overall lead, Towers/Johnson counted 10, 3, 1 at that point, while Miller/Martin counted a 1, 13, 2, though they counted ten additional penalty points for a tally penalty in the second race. Meanwhile other top competitors were struggling, with the Nicholsons only managing 6, 3, 6 finishes, Bergstrom/Westerdahl with a 5, 6, RET - they retired after realizing they had fouled another boat at a gybe mark rounding - and defending world champions Jeremy Robinson/Bill Masterman of Great Britain with finishes of 8, 9, 15.
The fourth race was started in a little more breeze than the first three. The left paid very well on the first beat. ‘93 World Champions Ian Barker/Dan Cripps of Great Britain won the race, with Australians Baker/Stodart 2nd, and Bergstrom/Westerdahl 3rd. Hamlin/Lewis broke their main halyard shortly before the start, and capsized the boat to tie the sail to the top of the mast. They completed the repair, righted the boat, but did not have time to sail the boat dry before the start. They were not able to start early in the gate, and were forced to the right on the first beat. They recovered to 21st place, while Miller/Martin were 20th. After throwout, Hamlin/Lewis were leading the regatta!
Bergstrom/Westerdahl caught the Nicholsons at the second gybe mark in the next race, getting buoy room and got the better gybe, sailing away to win the 5th race. The Nicholsons were 2nd. After throwout, the top five teams were now within 6 points (old Olympic scoring) going into the penultimate 6th race. Miller/Martin won the 6th race, but Bergstrom/Westerdahl’s 2nd vaulted them into an 8 point lead (after throwout) for the first time in the event. Hamlin/Lewis were 2nd, with Towers/Johnson 0.7 points behind them.
The 7th and final race was sailed in marginal trapezing breezes. The left paid again, and Towers/Johnson rounded the first mark in the lead. They looked astern and could not see Bergstrom/Westerdahl, and saw Hamlin/Lewis safely astern. Hamlin/Lewis fought there way up to 4th at the finish, while Towers/Johnson led at every mark and the finish. Several top teams had their hopes dashed in this race. The Nicholsons went right on the first beat, and could only get back to 36th, Barker/Cripps were 11th, Baker/Stodart were 50th!
Towers/Johnson won the World Championship overall, with Hamlin/Lewis 2nd. Barker/Cripps were 3rd, the Nicholsons 4th, and Miller/Martin 5th. Once ashore the fleet learned that Bergstrom/Westerdahl had hit the rabbit start gate launch and had immediately retired. Since the Bergstrom/Westerdahl team had already retired in the 3rd race, this forced them to count one of the retired placings, and pulled them down to 16th overall.
Towers/Johnson Great Britain 1st (38.7 ), Hamlin/Lewis Long Beach 2nd (46), Barker/Cripps Great Britan 3rd (61), Nicholson/Nicholson Australia 4th (68.1), Miller/Martin USA 5th (69), Baker/Stodart Australia 6th (81), Robinson/Masterman Great Britain 7th (90), Upton Brown/Vooght 8th Great Britain (93.4), Higgins/Wilsdon Australia 9th (97), Searant/Sinclair Australia 10th (105), Meller/Martin 27th (193)