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Great Britain Take Gold and Silver at the 2019 Homerus Match Racing World Championships.

The championships were hosted by Azimut Salerno Sailing Association in conjunction with the Homerous Association in the port of Salerno. The Homerus Association is the founder of enabling blind sailors to match race alone with the use of acoustic buoys.

The championships were raced in two categories: B1 fleet which saw four Italian teams and one team from France and B2 which had four teams entered, two teams from Italy and two teams from Great Britain: Lucy Hodges, Eddie Kitchen and Liam Cattermole, Sally Rodrigues. After a warm welcoming ceremony from the hosts and event sponsors (Police, Fire service, Local Cost Guard and McDonalds), category B1 headed out for their first-round robin. The wind was light and shifty with an average speed of 6-8 knots. The B1 category is made up of sailors with either light perception or totally blind, using all their senses to sail the boat, feeling the breeze and listening to the acoustic sounds of the course and their opponent. This is a developing sport that takes a great deal of understanding of racing and how to create a visual image to make the tactical decisions of Match racing. But sight loss did not stop them, all teams battelled hard to win their matches but in the tricky conditions it was true to say the boat that felt the shifts first would be the boat to take the match. Category B2 waited ashore but with a late start is was not to be and B2 were sent away with advice that they would be racing the following day.

GBR woke to sunshine and light winds with a forecasted build as the land heated up and a sea breeze came in. All teams headed out on the water for around 11.00; with a slight delay for breeze to fill in and hold a steady direction the B2 round robin was under way.

First match saw Italy’s Malipiero against Italy’s Graziani, with Malipero dominating the starts trying to score penalties in pre start manovers, Malipero a husband and wife team showed good sailing skills, picking up thshifts and took their first win. The second match saw GBR Hodges against Maliperio, Hodges was entering from yellow and took up the chase from entry but with a good strong start Hodges held their lead in the light wind conditions keeping the boat moving and took their first win. The third match then saw both teams from GBR go head to head, Cattermole was slightly late on entry seeing Hodges hold them out to gain a pre-start penalty, but with 20 seconds to go both teams were heading to pin end of the line, Hodges was looking to tack onto port and take the right hand side of the course were the breeze was filling in; but with a slight misjudgement caught the back quarter of Cattermole’s boat and gained a penalty leading to the cancellations of penalties for both teams. Each team sailed a good match, but it was Hodges to take the win. The last few matches again saw all boats battle hard, but it was to be GBR dominating the Round robin 1, with Lucy Hodges and Eddie Kitchen in the lead finishing on 3 and Liam Cattermole and Sally Rodrigues finishing on 2 for second place. As the day continued the breeze picked up to 10-12 knots and the race committee kept the B2’s out to complete their second-round robin of the regatta. After a few changes of the course as the breeze settled in the teams started battling, Cattermole chased Hodges hard but it was not to be with a penalty to take before the finish this gave Hodges a chance to take back the lead that she had lost on the final beat. Cattermole went on to his final matches seeing him in his last pairing with Malipiero who he gave two penalties, a strong battle off the line and with a starboard end bias saw Malipiero take his first turn and come out to windward of Cattermole, but Cattermole sailed well and took back the lead on the last lap seeing him finish on 4 points in second place after two round robins and Hodges finish on 6 points, in first place.

Day 3 it was back to the B1 category who were completing their second-round robin. The breeze started off light and shifty but after lunch picked up to around 15 knots in an offshore direction with some strong gusts which made the close quarter monoverse tricky. All matches were close, but it was Italy that was dominating. Match 10 was the final match of all-round robins before the semi-finals, but with the breeze building a port starboard collision saw the boats coliid, causing damage. Unfortunately, for the regatta and the teams had no spare boats was available and the damage was irreparable in the time frame, so the racing was concluded, and results awarded on the total of points from both Round robins seeing, Great Britain taking first and second place.

This has been an event of intense racing followed by some lows, but all teams performed to a high standard in the racing, showing how much they have developed with their training.

We cannot say thank you enough to Ben Hazeldine and Gary Butler for their support throughout this event.

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