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Pip Pearson's guide to the who's who of the 2017 SAP 5O5 Worldss

2017 SAP 5O5 Worlds
“Runners & Riders” : “Horses & Courses” : “Could Be’s & Might Be’s”

The 2017 SAP 5O5 Worlds - Annapolis are near upon us which raises the annual conjecture of who is the most likely winner of this event.
In studying the 91 boat entry list, again the 5O5 fleet is studded with talent who may well boast their impressive previous championship wins.

This 91 entry list reveals – to me – there are 20 boats capable of winning a heat at this year’s Worlds.

Further scrutiny reveals – to me –there are 9 boats who are capable of putting together a series in Annapolis that could earn them the title of “World Champion”.

Every venue has its own idiosyncrasies.
Annapolis is not Santa Cruz California, it is certainly not San Francisco Bay nor is it Kiel, Germany or the more open waters of La Rochelle, France.
Annapolis will require a different set of skills than those venues mentioned above.

So…. who is best suited to use their acquired skills of tactics, adaptability, flexibility while also engaging their expertise in getting optimum boat speed in what could be quite varying conditions ?
Well…. I reckon if you ask 10 people this question you’ll be certain to get 10 different responses! This is mine. .

This list is taken in order as they appear on the Entry List.
My 9 “potentials” are:-

1. Mike Quirk / Curtiss Hartmann
“Quirky” is a 6 times Australian Champion and has more recent “International Events” competition than most other entries on the list. He’s angry and poised to “kill”.

2. Howie Hamlin / Andy Zinn.
Few Classes have “Household Names” Howie & Andy are “Household Names” in 5O5 circles. Howie has 9 N.A’s to his name spanning 28 years from 1990 to 2017 including a World Title in 1999 with Mike Martin. 3 of the last 4 years N.A’s have been Team “Howie & Andy”. In the Annapolis conditions DO NOT take your eyes off Team “Howie & Andy”. Blink and they’ll be gone.

3. Andy Smith / Roger Gilbert
In recent times Andy has demonstrated he can be the fastest 5O5 on the water. His lead up to the 2016 Worlds in Weymouth was so powerful the experts were ready to engrave his name on the trophy before the event started. Argh…. The 2016 Worlds was not be Andy’s event – but he’s back with fire in his veins to amend last year’s result.

4. Mike Holt / Carl Smit
Twice World Champion and “aching” for a 3rd “Holtie” has probably done more training and preparation and done more major series in recent times than anyone else on the entry list.
Mostly considered a heavy weather specialist, in recent seasons Mike has mastered the technique of flexibility is now major threat in any conditions on any continent. With a W.C. with Carl in 2015 and three “2nd” with Carl 2009 & 2011, 2016, Carl is desperate to also make it the “double” W.C. Annapolis is now “home waters” for Carl - so watch this space.

5. Ted Conrads / Brian Haines
I’m always astonished at this teams ability to get the maximum speed out of their boat despite very limited “match practice’. They’re young fit & keen and it would not surprise me to see them at the top of the fleet.

6. Mike Martin / Adam Lowry.

Mike’s a World Champion at both the back & front end of the boat. His competiveness is quite scary. He & Adam have formed a formidable team in the 5O5. As current World Champion and with 7 previous N.A’s to his credit as a crew or skipper, any event that has this team on the entry is fair warning for the rest of the fleet. 

7. Ian Pinnell / Dave Shelton
Ian Pinnell has more World, European & National Championship ttles than anyone else in Europe. (Yes – including Ben Ainslie.) a 5O5 World Champion in 2008 and a master tactician in varying conditions. He has gained good chemistry and efficient teamwork with Dave Shelton in recent events and Dave has extensive experience which includes multiple two podium finishes in 5O5 Worlds to add to Ian’s expertise.

8. Malcolm Higgins / Marcus Cooper.
Malcolm is not quite so well known in 5O5 circles, but is a legend in Australian dinghy racing. He’s a 7 times Australian Champion in the Lightweight Sharpie class and has done several 5O5 Worlds including two with me in 1996 in Townsville & 1998 in Hyannes.
I am prepared to state that he is equally as capable as any skipper I’ve been in a dinghy with.
(And that list included some pretty significant names !) His crew, Marcus Cooper could well be the fittest and strongest crew in the fleet and he’s super competitive – and hungry.
Don’t be at all surprised to see these names very high on page one of the results. .

9. Tyler Moore / Rob Woelfel
Tyler is one of the USA’s most celebrated dinghy sailors and his illustrious record includes 4 5O5 N.A. titles. His “Bio” is too extensive for this article but he’s a complete champion on and off the water. As a crew Rob Woelfel has probably the most extensive record of success of any 5O5 crew spanning Europe, Africa, Australia & the USA. A master tactician with simply awesome boat handling ability. All crews should study Rob’s action in a 5O5. That’s how you do it guys and that’s why he’s a champion !

In my preamble above I stated there were 9 boats - in my opinion - capable of putting together a successful Worlds

So…Who’s my pick? A very tough question but one that needs an answer.
1st Choice – Team Tyler & Rob.
2nd Place. Choose between Holtie & Carl, Howie & Andy. Mike & Adam
5th to 9th. Any of the five remaining teams.
I’m not prepared to guess any order.
I rate them all as top sailors with the capacity to win heats.

Can’t wait for Friday 29th to see how right (or wrong) I was.

Pip Pearson

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