Zwitserleven Round Texel Race - Brouwer and Samama victorious

Downwind start
© Laurens Morel
In the Zwitserleven Round Texel Race, female helmsman Carolijn Brouwer (BEL) with crew Wouter Samama (NED) have emerged victorious. This is a historical victory, because Brouwer is the first female helmsman to claim the overall trophy on corrected time. Dutchmen Xander Pols and Stefan Dubbeldam took line honours and finished second overall. They crossed the line after two hours 50 minutes and 21 seconds with a big lead. The race had a thrilling conclusion with close racing. Also it was the first time in history that world's biggest catamaran race took place on Sunday.

Exactly at noon on Sunday June 10, 250 cats started in the prestigious catamaran race round the Wadden island Texel. Nobody crossed the line too early, which is a great performance. Current and wind from behind pushed the professional sailors and amateurs to the line. John de Vries and Diederik Pauli (Nacra F20 carbon) were in the lead on the first leg on the North Sea to the lighthouse, but had to give that up just before the first gate to William Sunnucks and Oliver Egan (GBR).

Dutchmen Xander Pols and Stefan Dubbeldam, sailing the Boskalis Nacra carbon 20, had a fierce battle with their biggest rivals under sail, William Sunnucks and Oliver Egan on the M20. Until the VC-buoy on the Wadden Sea, the Britons were leading the fleet, but from there the Dutchmen took over. To finish with a big lead after two hours and 50 minutes of intense racing. 'Great', said Pols enthusiastically after returning to the beach. 'On the Wadden Sea heading to Oudeschild we noticed that we could point higher and we were faster than the English. Therefore we made fewer meters and sailed at better angles.'

It was the third time that Pols took line honours of the Zwitserleven Round Texel Race, but according to the winner he never gets used to it. 'I think overall we also do good business,' said Pols. He never won on handicap, so there he puts his mind to now. 'At the beginning there was more wind than forecasted, about force four. From the ferry haven it continuously dropped. That could be our luck, so we can keep F18's behind us. I really want to win overall once.' In the end he did not succeed completely. Brouwer/Samama won by just a few seconds.

Winners line honours Pols/Dubbeldam - Zwitserleven Round Texel Race 2012
© Laurens Morel

Sunnucks and Egan in the end finished second at Paal 17 at the western end of Texel. Already they sailed twice around the island this week. On Wednesday and Thursday they attempted to break the record of 2009, sailing the fastest around Texel with their M20. Today they gave Pols and Dubbeldam a hard time. According to Sunnucks, they were a bit too cautious after the VC buoy: 'Xander and Stefan tacked to the coast ahead of us and had good lifts there. We saw them speeding away. Our boats have the same speed potential, but we were afraid to get grounded and tacked later. The one with local knowledge has an advantage. On the North Sea we got closer again, because the wind decreased.'

At the Hors Sunnucks and Egan got grounded anyway. A little later the duo came back to Pols and Dubbeldam again. Sunnucks: 'We tacked a lot and stayed to the coast. Therefore we got closer. Unfortunately, we were nowhere anymore when Xander hoisted his spinnaker. That one is bigger than ours. It was a beautiful race. Much better than it would have been yesterday with that much wind. A good decision.'

Today was her fifth time at the start of the Zwitserleven Round Texel Race, but Carolijn Brouwer (BEL) only crossed the finish line for the third time. Finally it was her lucky day, as she took after three hours, 10 minutes and 25 seconds sailing an historic overall victory. In the 35-year history of world's biggest cat race Brouwer is the first woman ever to finish first overall. Together with crew Wouter Samama (NED) she was the first F18 back on the Texel beach.

Brouwer: 'We were already gone at the starting gun. Wouter checked the line well and said I just had to go. He told me not to look over the shoulders, but I did it secretly. That was an enjoyment.' They started inshore and remained there and sailed their own race.

Overall winners Brouwer/Samama in action - Zwitserleven Round Texel Race 2012
© Laurens Morel

'In the gusts we got some height in order to stay out of the surf. Only after fifteen minutes, Xander Pols past us. We really haven't seen any other F18's around us. It was quite exciting at the VC-buoy, because we were double trapezing and sometimes you hit the ground there, so we put on the brakes a bit. However, later on at Oudeschild we really got stuck.' When asked how this success feels, Brouwer says: 'This is amazing. We went for it, but this is better than expected. Finally a normal Round Texel Race, because last year we were already hit and broken before the start.'

Gunnar Larsen and Sam Frank took third place overall and second in the F18 class. The fresh world champions Nacra Infusion are very happy with this double victory this week. 'We have sailed very well', says crew Sam Frank from the Netherlands. 'Carolijn was faster at the start and the whole race we were busy getting back. We succeeded partly. With Grant Piggot (GBR) we had a thrilling tacking duel at the south end of the island. In the end we overtook them.'

Top three line honours:

1. NED - Xander Pols/Stefan Dubbeldam
2. GBR - William Sunnucks/Oliver Egan
3. NED - John de Vries/Diederik Pauli

Top three on handicap:

1. NED - Xander Pols/Stefan Dubbeldam
2. NED - Carolijn Brouwer/Wouter Samama
3. NED - Gunnar Larsen/Sam Frank

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