Frensham Pond sailors Will and Annabel Shepherd sailed to a magnificent second place in the 2022 Cadet World Championship in Melbourne.
The weather was not kind and the pair had to fight hard over 12 races. The first two days of racing especially were brutal – strong winds and big rolling seas – a far cry from the pond the brother-and-sister team are used to sailing on.
Day three was the opposite – light winds but still a lot of chop. In race six, the first of the day, they recorded a convincing win, before finishing fifth in race seven and sixth in race eight to finish the day in fifth place overall and back on track for a shot at the title.
Day four was shifty and light – 12 knots one minute and nothing the next. Shifty winds like this are exactly what Pondies are good at and after day three Will and Annabel were back on form and in second place, although GB team-mates Toby Bush and Kemmel Thorogood had opened up enough of a lead that could not be beaten.
It wasn’t plain sailing on the final race day – in fact racing was nearly cancelled altogether as the sailors woke in Melbourne to gale-force winds and high seas with thunderstorms forecast.
Racing was delayed until race officers were sure the weather was safe for sailing. Finally the delta flag, which meant launching was imminent, was raised at 2pm.
In the end the weather was mostly kind for the only race of the day but still massive rolling seas. Will and Annabel had a great race but it was a bit of a heart-stopper. They were back in the early teens at the first windward but sailed hard for the remainder of the race to log a fourth place – enough to keep the runners-up prize.
It was an amazing experience for the young sailors. Frensham Pond might be small – some Aussies were quite surprised that some of the GB team sail on a 60-acre pond – but they turn out world-class sailors.
Will said: “We are so pleased to have placed second – it was a really challenging week with close racing and windy and wavy conditions, very unlike Frensham Pond! Initially we struggled in the large waves and strong winds which swept through Port Phillip Bay the first two days.
“On these days it really helped to have a heavier crew weight, so we had to work especially hard to keep up with others on the race course and I am very proud of how Annabel coped.
“Lighter winds were to follow in the next few days which we are much more used to and enabled us to get some great results in the races and come out at the end with a second overall.
“We are very thankful for all the support from back home.”
Megan Pascoe, the commodore of Frensham Pond SC, said: “Will has had an amazing year, winning the Cadet UK National Championship and European Championship with Joe Mycroft and now coming second at the Cadet World Championship.
“As a club we are very proud of what Will and Annabel have achieved out in Melbourne – and well done to all six Frensham boats in what were challenging conditions.”
Overall results for Frensham Pond sailors – Main fleet: 2, Will & Annabel Shepherd; 21, Sarah McEwan & Holly Jones; 25, Tom Walker & Ava Stoddart; 27, Sophia Sfaxi & Immy Sherwood; 28, Amelie Whitehouse & Maddy Sherwood. Promotional fleet: 16, Tom Shepherd & Tom Stoddart.
Words and photo: Corinne Whitehouse