Game. Set. & Match.

Going into the final day for 2017, forecast looked strong and early morning indicators hinted at a similar session to Day 4.
With 6 Slalom Tables complete, only one more required to option the riders the chance to discard their second worse series score, further evening the odds of best to win. While on the Freerace side of the program, the critical 5th session today would provide a vital first series discard, effectively shuffling the pack and the Championship.

The tides played in favor of Freerace session early, yet the constant early winds were not as strong as expected. A slower tide played into favor, and after an agreed short delay both wind and tide arrived simultaneously and the Freerace session was underway on the ReefFlats top course as racers launched out into a thin but building 15 kts. From the beach it was hard to judge the relative speeds this session, very evenly matched, some up one run, down the next; lighter conditions had seemed to favor Byron early, as the wind filled sometimes Kaleb held the edge. Only just. some played man on man whilst others sought performance at the further reaches of the playing field. Talk about a nail-biter finish to a razor thin difference in the championship Byron? Kaleb? Alex? Kel? As the session wound down, no one, not even the racers themselves could or would hazard a guess at the outcome. One thing for sure, after 5 days of sequential 1 hr racing at the tightest of margins, nothing was left out there on the racecourse that day. The winner would win but the others were so close it was incredible. The result ? Would only be known after the slalom.

Meantime a reverse direction slalom course was set for the final table or tables of 2017. Riders blazed through the ReefFlats on a starting leg which took them well out to sea, into some rolling chop, before racing back to an inside mark directly off the point of Green Island, back on an out to sea leg then a deep broad run to a super wide finish down the North side of the Island. A great option to mix it up and shuffle the cards one or more times. Max Gaubert sailing with a swollen fin cut across his foot, right on the footstrap. Freerace favorite Byron McIlveen showed the fleet a clean set of heels taking a well delivered win in Table 7. That NC man Alex Rous was again in second, with Mike Nelson tagging 3rd from championship contender Ben Newson. Knowing he had to make it stick, Ben Newson nailed down a solid win cleaning out Table 8 from super consistent Alex and Byron.and Fast heat turnarounds allowed for 2 tables complete – and with a short period of time remaining, a 9th and final table was commenced. The heats ran fairly normally; into the final final. Max nailed it beautifully from the start, Byron and Kaleb not letting him go easily. Alex found himself in 4th but surprisingly it was the worst finish of the championship for Ben, loading him with more points than he needed at the end of a great week of sailing.

And so it concluded : 2 National Championships at the highest level of competitiveness; nothing in it between first and second places in both Slalom and Freerace. In fact, 3rd and 4th were also tight. Off the water, no one really knew the outcomes, and it was a long pack up prior to presentation before the final results, and the outcome of the knife edge margins were known.

One thing was clear though: the 2017 GI Nats was itself a spectacular success; a festival of participative and inclusive fun, camaraderie and excitement. Everyone indeed came away a winner.

And so, for the final outcome….
FULL RESULTS ARE HERE 2017 GI Nats Results Page

Thanks to all the participants, volunteers, organisers and event supporters. Another sensational experience for all involved.
See you next year …

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