Jean Genie wins 5.5 Metre world title on final day in Hankø
Peter Morton's Jean Genie (GBR 42, Elliot Hanson, Andrew Palfrey, Sam Haines), designed by David Hollom, and built in Cowes, UK, has won the 5.5 Metre World Championship in Hankø, Norway, on Tuesday, after winning both races on the final day. In the last ten days they have rewritten history by winning both the Scandinavian Gold Cup and the World Championship, becoming the first British boat to win either event.
New Moon II (BAH 24, Mark Holowesko, Christoph Burger, Anthony Nossiter) had led all week, only once outside the top three, but could only watch as Jean Genie sailed away from the fleet in both the final races. Defending champion Artemis (NOR 57, Kristian Nergaard, Johan Barne, Trond Solli Sæther) ended third.
Race 6 was sailed in 12-15 knots with Otto (NOR 68, Bent Christian Wilhelmsen, Lasse Berthelsen, Herve Cunningham) playing the shifts better than anyone to round ahead of Jean Genie. They rounded the gate together but then the British sailed away up the beat and extended downwind to win from Otto and Ku-Ring-Gai 3 (AUS 66, John Bacon, Terry Wetton, James Mayjor).
In a slightly increased breeze, Jean Genie started Race 7 mid-line and covered New Moon II on the first tack and then never looked back. Rounding with a 200 metre lead they shot off downwind to build a two-minute lead on the chasing pack. There was a lot of air between the British boat and the fleet but the pushed all the way for the biggest win of the week. Ku-Ring-Gai 3 sailed another amazing race to cross second, which moved her up to fourth overall, while New Moon II crossed third to take second overall.
Elliot Hanson was planning on doing bow, but was then called upon to helm the new boat once Peter Morton was unable to attend.
"For me my journey is a little bit different. I came in quite late on bow, and was then on the helm, so my overwhelming feeling now is relief. We had a stinking day 1, which made our lives hard from there on, and the pressure was on from there to come away with a victory. We didn't really have any slips lefts in us after day 1 and we kind of haven't made any. It's great to sail with these guys, a real pleasure to have some experienced shoulders out on the rail. The boat was seamless in those conditions, going quickly and nothing really went wrong. As soon as that happens it's easy for me to stick it in the right place to make gains on the race track"
Was he surprised at the speed in the last race?
"No is the honest answer. We had those conditions in the Gold Cup. What was really nice was that the crew only came together a day or two before we got to Norway, but we clicked instantly and that always makes your life a lot easier. Comms were good, no hot-headedness and when the pressure came on it felt like we improved performance rather than wilted away which is really strength as a team. And it's no secret that the boat is performing very, very well relative to the rest of the fleet when the breeze is up.
"Not sure what happens next I've really enjoyed my time with the class and hope I'll be back."
Palfrey summed up. "It's so cool to race in this fleet against the family of 5.5 sailors and we were pushed really, really hard all week by the New Moon and Artemis guys so to finally overcome that is very satisfying so well done to them as well., and just to echo Elliot, to sail with Elliot and Sam and finish this off has just been awesome. It's very rare you find an environment on a race boat like that, so it was super cool."
It's been an amazing 10 days in Hankø at the iconic and welcoming Hankø Yacht Club, and the fleet have enjoyed the sailing as much as the extensive social activities, which is a key part of the 5.5 Metre Class. This event also marks the return of the Australian sailors who had not seen their boats for two and a half years.
This year marks the first time a newly designed 5.5 Metre has won a major championship in many decades and time will tell whether this sparks new interest in the world's best designers to look again at the 5.5 Metre rule to coke up with something better.
A video on the final day and further comment will follow soon.
Final results after 7 races
1 Jean Genie (GBR 42, Elliot Hanson, Andrew Palfrey, Sam Haines) 11
2 New Moon II (BAH 24, Mark Holowesko, Christoph Burger, Anthony Nossiter) 13
3 Artemis (NOR 57, Kristian Nergaard, Johan Barne, Trond Solli Sæther) 17
4 Ku-Ring-Gai 3 (AUS 66, John Bacon, Terry Wetton, James Mayjor) 27
5 Ali-Baba (BAH 23, Craig Symonette, Flavio Marazzi, William Alloway) 33