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470 World Championship – Xammar and Brugman reign in Spain

470 World Championship

Yacht Racing Podcast

Jordi Xammar and Nora Brugman (ESP) have been crowned 470 World Champions of 2024. After five days of competition in a variety of conditions on the Bay of Palma, the stormy conditions of Sunday meant no Medal Race to conclude the 470 World Championship in Mallorca. The Spanish team would have taken an 11-point advantage into the final race so there is no doubt they are the worthy champions of the week.

470 World Championship
Image © Bernardí Bibiloni / Int. 470 Class

Fast across the range
In the lighter breeze of the first three days the Japanese teams were unstoppable. When the breeze lifted to moderate 14-16 knots, Germany’s Simon Diesch and Anna Markfort scored two bullets. The Spanish were always waiting in the wings, and in the end their consistency earned them a well deserved first world title.

Runner-up at the previous two Worlds, Brugman was delighted and relieved to have brought the title home, especially on home waters. “We have been winning a lot of medals over the past couple of years but we needed to work on some areas to be strong enough to believe we could win gold. I’m really proud of this team and what we have achieved.”

Always pushing for more
Xammar paid tribute to his crew and their coach, Juan de la Fuente. “Nora is always pushing me to new levels, her commitment is never ending, and I’m so proud of her. And we are pushed hard by Juan to work harder than ever. He is the best. Winning today feels incredible. You don’t get too many opportunities like this and especially to win a world title here in Spain.” Xammar has an Olympic bronze from Tokyo 2020 and de la Fuente won two bronze medals in the 470 for Argentina in 2000 and 2012. Now the goal is to turn bronze into gold for Paris 2024.

While the Spanish gold marks them as favourites for Olympic glory this summer at Paris 2024, there are some fast-improving teams from other nations. Vita Heathcote and Chris ‘Twiggy’ Grube have defied everyone’s expectations, including their own, to win a silver medal at these Worlds. “What we’ve achieved this week, it’s beyond our wildest dreams,” smiled Heathcote. “At this stage in the cycle as well, when everyone’s putting their bringing their A-game to the event, this is amazing.”

Through thick and thin
It has been an extremely difficult few months in the build-up to the Worlds, with Grube suffering from chronic back pain and Heathcote battling illness and fatigue, yet somehow it all came together when it really mattered. “We’ve got an amazing team behind us, great training partners, and I couldn’t do any of this without the support of my wife Meg,” said Grube, the two-time Olympian who was reluctantly coaxed out of retirement by Heathcote looking to make it to her first Games.

After holding 1st, 2nd and 5th places in the Championship during the first couple of days, the Japanese teams fell down the order as the breeze increased. But the defending World Champions from 2023, Keiju Okada and Miho Yoshioka, held on for bronze and were positive about their experience. “We are happy with how we performed this week,” said Yoshioka, “and to win another medal is a great pleasure and honour for us.” Okada added: “This is also part of our selection trials for the Olympics so we have made a good start and we will continue to work hard over the coming weeks and months.”

Britain back on track
For a country that hadn’t even qualified a place at the Olympic Games, the British squad really stepped up this week and took overall victory in the Nations Cup, based on the best two results from each country. Heathcote and Grube’s silver was supported by a 9th place by training partners Martin Wrigley and Bettine Harris. The British won a tiebreak with the Japanese who finished as second best nation with Germany coming third.

470 Class president Andreas Kosmatopoulos awarded the David Barnes Trophy to the winning team from Spain. Barnes, who died in 2020, is fondly remembered as one of the legends of the 470 class. “I feel greatly honoured to be able to award the David Barnes Trophy to our new 470 World Champions. Apart from being an outstanding sailor, David was an innovator, a deep thinker, a great man. He used to practise after dark, because it made sailing in daylight easy for him. David, with Hamish Willcox crewing, went on to win three 470 World Championships in such a style that it changed the way we looked at 470 racing forever.”

470 Class executive director Dimitris Dimou praised the hosts, Club Nàutic S’Arenal, for organising one of the best events in many years and looked forward to bringing back the 470 fleet very soon. For now the 470 fleet looks towards the next major events on the calendar including the Trofeo Princesa Sofia in Palma less than a month from now, followed by Semaine Olympique Française in Hyères, and the 470 European Championship in Cannes in early May.

Main image © Bernardí Bibiloni / Int. 470 Class

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