Tom Fremont-Smith clinches historic maiden IOD Worlds title
Tom Fremont-Smith had double cause for celebration after securing a maiden and historic International One Design World Championship title in the Great Sound yesterday.
The 48-year-old American helmsman won the event at the third attempt to become the first North East Harbour sailor to achieve the remarkable feat.
“It feels amazing and is a bit of a dream come true,” he told The Royal Gazette. “This is a life achievement and I can check the box now.
“There are so many sailors that came before me, that inspired me and egged me on and taught me. I just can’t believe that we actually just won this thing.”
Fremont-Smith and crew Peter Ill, Rob Van Alen, Alison Gingerich and Will Welles posted a 5-1 record yesterday to finish two points clear of nearest rivals and defending champions John Burnham and Peter Rugg, of the Fishers Island fleet, at the top of the standings.
Bermuda’s Patrick Cooper finished third, another six points off the lead pace to round off the podium.
“I wanted a top three and knew I had a top three team,” Fremont-Smith added.
“I wanted to win some races and knew we could do something but really didn’t think we would get this far.
“Even though we built a team to win this thing, you just don’t know what you’ve got until you hit the water.
“John Burnham, Patrick Cooper, Urban Ristorp (former world champion) and their teams are amazing, so it’s really hard to accomplish this and I think it may take a few weeks to have it sink in.”
The battle for the championship went right down to the wire with only three points separating leaders Fremont-Smith from third-placed Cooper heading into the final race of the ten-race series.
Fremont-Smith and his team-mates were more than equal to the task as they posted a fourth bullet of the week to seal the deal with an exclamation mark.
“That was the best way to finish,” he added. “We left it all on the water and we are really, really excited.”
Burnham, whose team posted a 7-2 record on the day, conceded the better team won.
“After the first three races they beat us every race,” he said. “We sailed well and my crew are awesome. But they were the class of the regatta and deserved to win.”
Charlton Rugg, the son of co-helmsman Peter, and Jennifer Parsons and son Oliver were the remaining members of the defending champion’s team.
Also achieving their best showing at the regatta was Bermuda’s Cooper, who posted a 1-6 record to consolidate his team’s spot on the podium.
“This is my best result in a regatta of this standing so I’m extremely happy with where we are,” he said.
“We had fun this week and learnt lots and I can’t thank my crew Martin Siese, Bill McNiven and Andrew Butterworth enough. These guys kept me out of trouble and kept me going around the course fast.”
The local hopefuls were still in with a shot at the title going into the last race only three points off the lead in third.
“Mathematically we had a chance but we were not making things happen in that race,” Cooper added. “We needed a lot to go right for us. But after the first beat (sixth) it became apparent quite quickly that it wasn’t going to fall our way.”
Rick Thompson, the regatta chairman, summed up the event as a success.
“I think it has been very successful,” he said. “The weather was really good; certainly didn’t break up the boats.
“It was extremely competitive and when you have the last race deciding who the champion is that’s good sailing.
“But more importantly the competitors loved being in Bermuda. They can’t say enough about it and of course they will be back for sure.”