Sunfish Worlds 2000 report

by Cindy & Charlie Clifton

November 16th, the night before the final day of the 2000 Sunfish World Championship on Sarasota Bay, Eduardo Cordero was calm and reflective. “This is the first time I haven’t been nervous going into the last day. I’ll be happy to finish 2nd or 3rd. I feel no pressure at all”.

It all began on a Wednesday in the parking lot of the Sarasota Sailing Squadron when three very large containers arrived. Vanguard worker bee, Thornton organized SSS volunteers and a few Sunfishers into a rapid-fire assembly line and we unloaded the 104 boats in rapid time. Old friends joined newcomers arriving over the next few days and everyone got their bearings on the water and on the beach. Airport pickups of sailors from Italy and the Virgin Islands and welcoming those arriving on their own took most of the next few days.

A Celebrity Race held Sunday drew a few county and city officials, some regional journalists and reporters, former NA champ author, Will White and Vanguard President Chip Johns and others. Chip took the honors but everyone had fun and all followed the activities during the rest of the week. One commissioner, a novice sailor, capsized twice but still managed to give a welcoming speech that night at the Opening Ceremony.

St. Armands Circle, a small park in the center of St. Armands Key near the Squadron was the setting for the ceremony. The appropriate national anthems were played and flags displayed while the teams from each country were introduced and welcoming speeches were made. Attendance was not mandatory but the whereabouts that night of Canada’s only sailor and former SSS youth coach, Oskar Johansson was on a few people’s minds. The Colombians and Venezuelans arrived in the knick of time and the sailors from Puerto Rico must have been on Caribbean time because they barely made it in time for this and all the events during the week! A party at the Sarasota Yacht Club followed with a Steel Pan musician.

Oskar Johansson had accumulated what looked like an insurmountable 14-6 point lead with a string of very consistent finishes. He was the only one with a discard smaller than 10. If he finished in the top ten in either of the last two races, the Championship would go to Canada for the first time.

But Cordero reeled off two straight firsts in light, shifty conditions that confounded the rest of the 104 sailors from 15 countries. Johansson missed the top ten both races and Eduardo carted the ugly old trophy that looks like a sailboard back to Venezuela for an unprecedented fifth time.

The regatta began Monday with picture perfect conditions. Temperature in the eighties and 8-12 knots of wind provided the setting for Luis Alberto Olcese (Peru) to shoot off the starting line and win the race by a large margin. Peru had been absent from World Championships for quite some time. This year they returned in force, 10 strong, with arguably the fastest senior, Olcese, and definitely the fastest junior, Diego Zimmerman.

It looked like Olcese had done it again in the second race as he finished first but, when the scores were posted, he was among four sailors found OCS. That left three time World Champion Donnie Martinborough (Bahamas) in the lead after the first day.

Tuesday morning, a front rolled in from the Gulf and the third race was postponed until afternoon. A 15-20 knot northerly followed the front. PJ Patin (USA) clearly relished these conditions and romped to the finish well ahead of the pack. A small variation in the clearance between the rudder cheek and gudgeon caused some rudders to fall off, for which breakdown points were awarded. Johansson managed a fifth despite effecting repairs in the middle of the race. Martinborough mistook a boat recording finishes for the pin end of the finish line. He went from 5th to 19th before he could correct the error. Cordero managed an 8th which put him in second place, 7 points behind Oskar.

Wednesday, the fourth race started in a light easterly which died and then shifted to the north halfway through the race. The right side of the fleet was hung out to dry, Cordero among them. Johansson won. As the wind settled in for the next two races, he and Jeff Linton alternated firsts and ninths while Cordero stayed in the average with two fifths. That set the stage for what appeared to be mere formalities on the last day.

Team games Monday and Tuesday nights created fast friends and frustrated bean spitters out of us all, making the final tug of war a competitive event indeed. Races on Wednesday were followed by a tour of Mote Aquarium where everyone was treated to Captain Morgan’s rum and seafood.

Thursday was a Lay Day. The South Americans went to Disney World, the Bermudians went shopping, the Gringos went golfing, and the Gators went fishing. Lots of golf was played on the lay day, with many doing an extra round, including Alan Scharfe and John Swan who played 27 holes! Amusement parks were visited by others and just BEACHing it was popular with some. Jeff & John Linton fished all day to provide dinner at Clifton’s (best barbecued mackerel ever) and of course the night concluded with a game of__hole with the younger set.

Friday brought a light south westerly of 5-10 knots. Finding the puffs and staying in phase was key. Malcolm Smith (Bermuda) and Eduardo Gonzalez (Venezuela) were the only two sailors, other than Cordero, who posted less than ten points the last day. Cordero methodically worked his way to the front each race and stayed there.
After the race, he shook his head and said, “I can’t believe it. I just can’t believe it.” Then he added, “I lied last night. I wouldn’t have been happy with third. I wanted to beat Jeff.”

Friday night turned into a very competitive game of Bun Darts, the specialty of Sunfish sailors. Once again, the best of the best, bested all, including Don and Jean Bergman, Todd Edwards and Anne Buccella.
The Awards Banquet started at the Mote “Chickee Hut” and continued on into the Banquet Room where dinner was followed by presentation of the awards.

In addition to the race winners, special trophies were awarded to:

Youngest sailorAndrew Wilhoyte (NAH)
Top MasterDick Tillman (USA)
Top WomanJoAnn Weberlein (USA)
Marco Polo Award
Cuthbertson Trophy awardAlex Zimmerman (PER)

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