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What happens when two of the top crew on the SSL Global Ranking are paired on the same boat at a major event? It certainly increases your chances of winning, and that’s exactly what John Sommi did at the 2023 Etchells World Championship, held in Miami, Florida.

Sommi has known Victor Diaz de Leon (SSL #1) for a long time, having hired him as an instructor when he was chairman of the youth sailing program at Shelter Island Yacht Club 15 years ago, so knew already that having the top crew on the SSL Global Ranking calling tactics was a good call.

Combined with Will Ryan (SSL #15), the Tokyo 2020 Olympic gold medallist in the 470 class, Sommi knew he had the team with him capable of winning the title, even when you take into account the calibre of the other teams at the event.

It all came good in Florida, and together with fourth crew member Beccy Anderson they captured the Etchells World Championship trophy on Biscayne Bay at the end of last week.

Veracity wins the AON 2023 Etchells World Championship (c) Nic Brunk
Veracity wins the AON 2023 Etchells World Championship (c) Nic Brunk

Speaking after the event Sommi said:

“It’s literally a dream come true and I’m just so happy and grateful. My team is incredible and we’ve all grown together. This just culminates all the work we’ve been doing for the past year. While this is my first worlds, those guys are accustomed to competing at this level. They’re the ones who get me around the racecourse.

“I cannot speak more highly about my team. Will Ryan instantly raised the performance of the boat when he got on last February. Will and Victor as a team make each other better: Will gives Victor conviction as a tactician and Victor trusts in Will’s judgment around the racecourse.”

Diaz de Leon was very happy to capture the title crewing for Sommi:

“This is very special because I have known John for 15 years and we have become close friends. To be able to pull this off together is a great feeling.”

Victor Diaz de Leon is no stranger to the top step of the podium at World Championships, having previously won J70, Melges 24, J80, Sonar and Match Racing World Titles. He already had a 495-point lead at the top of the SSL Global Crew ranking, and this latest win will surely extend that when the new rankings come out this week.