A spectacular final day of racing for the 40 strong fleet from 15 nations saw Switzerland’s Momo, helmed by owner Dieter Schoen and crewed by Markus Wieser, Dirk de Ridder, Ross Halcrow and Victor Manuel Marino Prieto, win the Xacobeo Six Metre World Championship 2022 in Sanxenxo with a race to spare. Second place went to fellow Swiss Philippe Durr and Rainer Müller’s Junior, with Portugal’s Patrick Monteiro de Barross’ Seljm third.
The Classic Xacobeo Six Metre World Championship 2022 was won Louis Heckly’s Dix Août with crew Loic La Garrec, Bill Hugues Leclerc, Frederic Baratay, Jonas Lambalet and Bernard Divorne. Second Classic was Sanxenxo’s own Pedro Campos Clavo-Sotelo sailing Bribon 500, while fellow Spaniard Francisco Botas Ratera’s Aida took the final place on the Classics podium.
The concluding day of the competition produced the most reliable wind of the series with 8-12 knots from the southwest. The Open Division got race six underway cleanly at the first attempt and then the Classics came to the line. As the VHF operator counted down to the start gun there seemed to be some confusion and several boats appeared late to start. In fact, checks subsequently confirmed that a timing error had been made and so the Classics race was abandoned as the boats came down the first run.
Meanwhile in the Open Division Momo hadn’t got off to a great start, but before long she had taken the lead, which she proceeded to defend and extend to the finish. Behind her Johan Larson’s Rebecca took second by a comfortable margin with Seljm third, John Harald Orneberg’s Scoundrel One fourth and Violeta Alvarez’ Stella fifth. With a race to spare Momo had secured victory and the Six Metre World Cup, but the remaining podium positions were still wide open.
With Momo safely back at harbour and celebrating, the Open Division’s seventh and final race was all about deciding the remaining podium places. Junior had gone into the day in second overall, but a disastrous race six left her with a lot of work to do. However, there’s a reason why Junior is one of the most successful Sixes ever and the crew dug deep to claim an elegant final race win from Staffan Lindberg’s Jane Anne with Otto Pohlmann’s Meerblick Bear third and Hugo Stenbeck’s Sophie Racing fourth. That race victory put Junior onto the coveted second step of the podium, with Seljm in the bronze medal position, Stella fourth and Rebecca fifth.
Back ashore a delighted Dieter Schoen explained that “We have had a great week and we have done very well. Even when we’ve had bad starts, like today, we’ve always ended up getting to the first mark in a good position, so I think we’ve had a perfect week as a team. The club has been a very good host and the race committee in general did a good job. The two days that we couldn’t sail they didn’t get nervous, and they took risks, so I think everything went very well”, concluded the skipper of the Momo.
Having had to wait while the Open Division finished race six to prevent congestion, the Classics eventually got their own race six underway again. Going into the race Ossi Paija’s Astree III and Dix Août were tied on points and Bribon 500 and Aida were also still in with a realistic chance of victory. With the 16:00 final start cut off meaning this would be the last race of their series the fight was on and what an exciting race it was to be.
The Dix Août team, which was founded by Louis Heckly’s father, has twice been runner up at the Worlds before but has never won. With victory now so close they were determined not to let the opportunity slip through their fingers again, and a great start and first beat saw them lead at mark one by a narrow margin with the pack hard on their heels.
Dix Août kept her lead down the first run and by the leeward gate she was still just holding her own but with Andy Postle and Brian Pope’s Nirvana, Aida, Mauricio Sanchez-Bella Carswell’s Titia, Juha Salonen’s Toy and Catalin Trandafir’s Essentia (who had been forced to return at the start having been OCS) in hot pursuit.
Despite multiple challenges including a last-minute surge from Aida right on the line, Dix Août clung onto her lead by a whisker to claim the Djinn Trophy and become Classic Six Metre World Champion 2022. Bribon 500 finished the race in fifth allowing her to slip into second overall, just ahead of Aida. Overnight leader Astree III had her worst race of the series with an eighth so dropped down into fourth place overall with Titia fifth and Essentia sixth.
Back on the dock an emotional Louis Heckly spoke from the heart saying, “The feeling is absolutely fantastic. We have been racing for this title for years with my late father, who passed away, and we only managed to give him two world runner-up titles. Now we’ve done it, so it’s a fantastic feeling and we’re very happy. Coming to Sanxenxo twice for the Europeans last year and the World Cup this year was absolutely exciting. Great food, great organisation and great kindness from everyone around us. Everyone wanted to make things easy for us, and that was really appreciated by all the crews”, concluded the French skipper.
After racing the sailors came together in the Real Club Nautico de Sanxenxo’s dining room, which has spectacular views of the racecourse, for a delicious gala dinner and to honour their champions. In addition to the presentation of the Six Metre World Cup and the Djinn Trophy for the Classics, several additional special awards were presented.
The Shipshape Trophy for the winner of the Open Division Practice Race was won by Paul Smith’s Valhalla and the Maharajah of Djeezupuhr Trophy for the winner of the Classic Division Practice Race went to Bruno Engel’s Saskia.
The AYRS Astor Cup, for the highest placed boat which includes a crew or helm aged 25 years or under was presented to Aida and 24-year-old Jaime de la Gandara Pez. Rule. Aida made her racing debut at the 1936 Olympics representing Argentina, narrowly missing a podium position and finishing fourth. For the next twelve years she sailed with various owners in Norway and Denmark, until in 1948 she sailed in her second Olympic competition achieving tenth place for Denmark. She continue to race regularly around Scandinavia for the next 50 years, changing hands periodically, until Katrin and Björn Storsberg moved her to Germany and restored her to competitive condition. In 2016 she was purchased by her current owner and joined the growing Galician fleet.
The new Tim Street Trophy, for the highest placed Classic yacht which holds a certificate under the provisions of Appendix A, was presented to Dirk Stolp’s Valdai. Valdai was designed to the Second Rule in 1930 by Alfred Mylne and built by the Bute Slip Dock Co on the Clyde. Under various ownerships she was club raced and cruised for many years, but by 1995 she was lying neglected on the River Deben in Suffolk, England. She was found by Six Metre godfather Tim Street and moved to Aldeburgh Boat Yard where preliminary restoration work was undertaken before she was sold to Sir Robert Owen who had her beautifully restored to fully racing trim by Tom Owen’s yard in Fowey. Valdai also won the KSSS Cup, for the highest placed Classic built to the First (1907-1919) or Second (1919-1933)
The Lucie Trophy, for the highest placed yacht which includes a woman as helm or crew, was presented to Violeta Alvarez of Stella. Violeta has been a staunch supporter of the Six Metres in recent years, as the driving force behind the impressive new Six Metre Archive and as the skipper/helm of the Classic Eric and more recently Stella, racing regularly with both the British and Spanish fleets.
Text © Fiona Brown