x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Payne sailing takes Moth World Championships crown

The Briton bounces back from a knee operation to reclaim world title at Dubai Offshore Sailing Club.

Moth racers jockey for position yesterday during the championships in Dubai.
Moth racers jockey for position yesterday during the championships in Dubai.

DUBAI // Before the start of the Moth World Championships, Simon Payne said he would be happy to finish in the top 10. Yesterday he was crowned champion. The British sailor's preparations for the week-long event at Dubai Offshore Sailing Club (DOSC) were disrupted by a knee operation; the 2006 world champion finished fifth despite tearing a cartilage during last year's World Championships in Oregon and was lucky to be back at full fitness this time round.

"I wasn't able to train throughout the winter," said Payne, a former Olympian in the 470 yacht class. "So winning this competition is very satisfying." Payne went into the final day with a nine-point lead over his nearest rival, the American Brad Funk, who had proved a major threat by claiming two of Saturday's three races. But the Briton's consistency had elevated him to top spot and he maintained his position. Going into yesterday's contests, he was given confidence by the knowledge that he had finished in the top five in every race, other than a 41st place when his mast snapped.

Payne conceded he had perhaps gone into the final day's racing with too much confidence. "I nearly managed to spoil it all," he said after finishing 10th and fifth yesterday. "One of the main things you should never do when you are trying to win a sailing race is capsize and I managed to do that twice. "Perhaps I was a bit lackadaisical, I don't know, but a couple of dunkings certainly gave me the wake-up call I needed."

Payne finished with 33 series points, nine ahead of second-placed Andrew McDougall. The last two races were contested in winds that had picked up from the weak seven to nine knots that were the norm throughout most of the week. Payne was in his element in the light conditions. "It has been a light-breeze event and I think it would be fair to say that if the winds had been stronger then the top 10 would have been the same people but quite possibly in a different order," he said.

Funk, who had less boat time than many of the 43-strong fleet, had sailed exceptionally well all week but was just pipped to second by Australia's McDougall who, though level on points, had more race wins during the week. Chris Graham, the UAE champion, finished ninth. His final-day results of eighth and sixth were among his best, although that will be of little comfort to Funk, who was beaten into seventh by Graham in the last race. A reversal of that result would have seen Funk finish second rather than third overall.

stregoning@thenational.ae