Grand Prix Sailing

Surprise victory for Realteam at the Bay of Calvi

 

Photo © Jesús Renedo / GC32 Racing Tour

 

GC32 Orezza Corsica Cup

 

An unforced error caused victory to slip through the fingers of Malizia – Yacht Club de Monaco on the final day of the GC32 Orezza Corsica Cup, leaving the Swiss Realteam to claim their second event win on the 2017 GC32 Racing Tour.

While summery conditions initially gave way to an overcast sky and rain, out on the Bay of Calvi it was the most stable day with 15-20 knot winds. This enabled one round of the Amonimo Speed Challenge and five races with reaching starts to be held.

In the Anonimo Speed Challenge, it was Jason Carroll’s Argo which made the fastest run today with an average speed of 21.21 knots for the two reaching legs and the gybe between.

“Finally!” exclaimed Argo helmsman Anthony Kotoun. “Yesterday we did a bad one, but today it was good. So yahoo!” As to why they won, Kotoun confided: “This was the first time we have successfully even got close to pulling off a foiling gybe at the mark. And we have won a watch! It’s great to have Anonimo as a sponsor of the Tour.”

Crews and spectators alike today were pleased the race committee was able to set up America’s Cup-style courses with reaching starts/finishes. As the wind piped up to 20 knot for the fourth race, the start became even more of a high-octane affair. Once again the Bay of Calvi’s fish farm formed an obstacle on the left side of the race track forcing boats that went this side to reach into the leeward gate at warp factor. On Argo they hit 36 knots.

Followed her Anonimo Speed Challenge victory, Argo was also firing on all cylinders initially in the fleet racing and posted two bullets in the first two races.

“We got back to our old rhythm and had good communication and good boat handling,” said Kotoun.

Unfortunately, in the third race there was a disaster for Pierre Casiraghi’s Malizia – Yacht Club de Monaco as they rounded the weather mark. As Casiraghi explained: “I hit the mark and hooked the rudder and that’s about it…” The starboard rudder ripped off the transom, forcing the Monegasque to retire from the remaining races. “It was just bad driving,” Casiraghi continued.

“The guys did a great job this week. I am sorry for them because they sailed really well.” The regatta had been Malizia’s to lose, starting the final day with a 14 point lead.

With this, the stakes were raised and the two-way fight for second between Realteam and Argo became a battle for the lead. Initially this went Argo’s way, but Realteam winning races three and four, left the Swiss holding a tenuous one-point lead going into the final, deciding race.

“They were just one point behind us, so the boat that won would come out on top,” explained Swiss skipper Jérôme Clerc. “We made a good start and we were ahead at the first gybe, so then we just had to match them.” This they successfully managed, with Argo overhauling Sébastien Rogues’ Team Engie on the final beat to claim second. As a result Realteam, the team founded by Esteban Garcia, claimed the GC32 Orezza Corsica Cup by two slender points.

“We were checking where they were,” said Clerc. “We knew we had the chance to do some good races in the strong wind. In fact, we didn’t make great starts but we did manoeuvre well and the team did a good job. It is cool, a great fight with Argo. Now – we are now looking where we stand in the Championship.”

Going into the final event of the 2017 GC32 Racing Tour, Marseille One Design, Realteam holds a two-point lead over Argo.

On this occasion, it was Naofumi Kamei’s Mamma Aiuto! that claimed the GC32 Orezza Corsica Cup owner-driver prize. Incredibly there are now three teams – Argo, Mamma Aiuto! and Malizia – Yacht Club de Monaco all tied on points in the 2017 season Owner Driver Championship going into the last event of the season: Marseille One Design will take place over 12-15 October.

 

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.film Racing star of the penultimate day in Calvi

 

Photo © Jesús Renedo / GC32 Racing Tour

 

GC32 Orizza Corsica Cup on the bay of Calvi

 

Calvi was not making it easy for race officials on the penultimate day of the GC32 Orezza Corsica Cup. With the wind blowing 20+ knots in the morning and into the afternoon on the Bay of Calvi, the foiling catamarans were kept ashore until 1530 hrs. Their arrival on the race course then coincided with the wind simply vanishing. Fortunately, patience paid off and finally a light westerly wind filled in, albeit under an overcast sky, enough to complete one round of the Challenge and two windward-leeward races.

The Anonimo Speed Challenge was sailed as usual with guests perched on the front netting of the GC32s and comprised two reaches punctuated by a gybe in between. Despite the sub -10-knot conditions, the nimble GC32s still all put in average speeds of 15+ knots with the Jérôme Clerc-skippered Realteam recording the highest at 18.38 knots, a fraction speedier than Simon Delzoppo’s .film Racing on 18.25.

“I am happy we are the winner of the Anonimo Speed Challenge today,” said Clerc. “It wasn’t the fastest we’ve done because the wind was light, but we managed to fly with the gennaker, so I hope the guests also had some fun. I hope we win the watch!” The skipper of the boat that records the fastest time over the four days of the GC32 Orezza Corsica Cup will receive an Anonimo Nautilo watch.

In the fleet racing, .film Racing was also the top scoring boat of the day posting a 1-2, finally breaking Malizia – Yacht Club de Monaco’s winning streak. In fact, the Monaco team was unfortunate, as on the final run they came close to falling into a hole on the wrong side of a fish farm, that formed an obstruction on the left side of the course. Noticing this, they had to return upwind to sail around the obstruction, and this enabled .film Racing to gybe early and take the lead.

“We love that fish farm!” quipped .film Racing’s Australian skipper, Simon Delzoppo. “We did plan that – the guys did a good job of picking where the breeze was and the holes in the breeze. We knew if we got out there we’d be sailing into the breeze and so we did. The most important thing today was that it was patchy and you just had to have a real good look at where the wind was. Leigh [McMillan] and Ed [Powys] did a great job at that.”

For race two Malizia – Yacht Club de Monaco was back to her winning ways. Pierre Casiraghi returned to the helm of the Monegasque GC32 today, with Sébastien Col back on main sheet. “We had a good start and led the fleet quite early,” said Casiraghi of the second race. “The Australians had to bear off because of the fish farm and the guys on the right had less wind. So it was a good decision and then it was just a case of controlling the fleet and sailing smoothly.”

Casiraghi rejoined his boat today came after his team managed to score five wins from five races yesterday. “There was a bit of pressure after yesterday,” he admitted. “But the boat is going great and the team is good. I am really happy to be back. Tomorrow there could be quite a few races and we’ll try not to come last! Our team is well prepared, so we’ll keep our fingers crossed.”

For the final day of the GC32 Orezza Corsica Cup tomorrow, the first warning signal has been brought forward to 1100 hrs CET. The intention is to hold two more rounds of the Anonimo Speed Challenge followed by up to five races. The day will conclude with a prizegiving at 1700 hrs CET.

 

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Five bullet day for Malizia – Yacht Club de Monaco 

 

5 bullet day for Malizia – Photos © Jesus Renedo / GC32 Racing Tour

 

GC32 Orezza Corsica Cup at Calvi

 

The silver flash, that is the GC32 foiling catamaran Malizia – Yacht Club de Monaco, put in an extraordinary performance, posting a perfect scoreline on day two of the GC32 Orezza Corsica Cup on the Bay of Calvi, despite ultra-tricky conditions.

While the forecast indicated strong wind and big seas, more marginal than on day one, a smart call by the race management team in getting the boats racing three and a half hours earlier than scheduled, paid off. This enabled five windward-leeward races to be sailed, without yesterday’s big swell, but in winds that ranged from 10-25 knots, at times with significant shifts. It was a day when making calls about the correct side was as vital as crew work, adapting sail choice to wind strength.

Former America’s Cup skipper Sebastien Col, who helmed Pierre Casiraghi’s Malizia – Yacht Club de Monaco today and yesterday, said: “I think in the first two races we sailed well, better than the rest of the fleet, and probably getting a bit of luck with a few shifts – but you needed that to win races, because the wind was so shifty. Then by the third race, our confidence had built. Everything was working very well on board.” Calling tactics on board has been young British former Olympic and Figaro sailor, Richard Mason.

To score five wins from five races was exceptional, especially as the Monaco crew did not have it all their own way. The first race, for example, belonged to Naofumi Kamei’s Mamma Aiuto! until the Japanese team fell into a hole in the middle of the race course on the final run, enabling Malizia to blaze into the lead and take the gun. In the breezy third race Mamma Aiuto! again had the bit between her teeth, finishing close behind Malizia, but again not taking the bullet.

In today’s fourth race, it was the turn of Simon Delzoppo’s new team, .film Racing, to enjoy her share of the limelight briefly. She was well ahead at the first top mark and down the run but was forced into a gybe at the leeward gate by Malizia, for which her crew, that includes 2015 GC32 Racing Tour winner Leigh McMillan, was unprepared. The Australian GC32 looked certain to capsize, but a miracle caused them to come back from the brink.

 

 

“We all managed to hang on pretty well,” said Delzoppo. “I was steering with my feet up in the air, but I steered all the way through, and then we managed to dump the main and did a bear away. It was pretty exciting.”

This incident was equally exciting for Malizia – Yacht Club de Monaco as they were trying to roll around the Aussie team at the gate mark. As Sébastien Col explained: “Initially I thought they were going to capsize on top of us so I went inside them. But then they didn’t capsize!” So [risking that Malizia’s weather hull would land on top of them] I said ‘we have to go fast here!’ It was a tricky moment.”

While Malizia – Yacht Club de Monaco has disappeared into the top spot of the leaderboard on 11 points, behind, it is very close with Jason Carroll’s Argo in second and just six points separating second from fourth place.

Morgan Larson, who sailed Alinghi to second place on the GC32 Racing Tour in 2015, is back crewing on board Argo here in Calvi.

“There were a couple of hair-raising moments, but it was a good day. The guys did a good job, making up with my deficit in boat handling. The boat really requires good skills throughout the whole team, because when you do little things wrong it looks really bad. We had a small problem with the sail unfurling in a puff upwind by accident. It feels like you’re making mistakes all day long and giving up points, but the reality is everybody is. It’s very competitive sailing, great to be back.”

Tomorrow conditions are forecast to be more regular in the afternoon when 15-18 knots are forecast. The aim is to return to the schedule with a first warning signal at 1230 for two rounds of the Anonimo Speed Challenge followed by racing with reaching starts.

 

 

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Realteam on top after breezy opening day in Calvi

 

Big breeze out on the Bay of Calvi. Photo: Jesus Renedo / GC32 Racing Tour

 

GC32 Orezza Corsica Cup

 

Day one the GC32 Orezza Corsica Cup, penultimate event on the 2017 GC32 Racing Tour, dawned magnificently with light winds and a warm sun on the Bay of Calvi. But as the morning progressed the wind and swell had grown to Volvo Ocean Race proportions and were in a generally vicious mood. Despite this, the local race management team and Principal Race Officer Stuart Childerley, successfully managed to fire off two races, albeit hair-raising ones, on an often foam-filled course.

Anticipating such conditions, crews had been warned to prepare for an early start with racing beginning at 1000 hrs, three hours earlier than scheduled.

Already by the time racing started the wind was above 20 knots and a swell had formed, big enough to cause the GC32s to disappear occasionally into the troughs. The right of the race course was generally worse, being on the open ocean side, while the top mark was laid in the shadow of Calvi’s impressive Citadel.

Malizia – Yacht Club de Monaco scored a fine win in the opening race, with former America’s Cup skipper Sébastien Col standing in on the helm today for Pierre Casiraghi.

“We have a strong team and the guys did a good job with good manoeuvres and boat speed,” said Col. “We sailed quite conservatively and didn’t push too much. It was pretty tough, especially on starboard downwind when we were sailing into the waves. For that, we have ‘skimming mode’, with less rake angle but allowing more play of the foil tip to help keep the bows out.”

Unfortunately, in the second race, Malizia – Yacht Club de Monaco snared the windward mark and lost places trying to disentangle themselves. This race went to overall GC32 Racing Tour leader Realteam, skippered by Jérôme Clerc. In this race the Swiss team finished narrowly ahead of Jason Carroll’s Argo, being helmed here by American Anthony Kotoun. Of today’s racing, Kotoun said: “Our boat saw a sustained 23-24 knots and more in the gusts. The wind is important, but the real issue was that the sea state on starboard gybe was pretty bad. Today we were not making calls versus other boats, we were making calls about how to get around the course in a seamanlike way. It was fun, but I think I have a little bit of an evil personality as part of me enjoys it a little bit. But safety is paramount in these situations.”

Before racing started Erik Maris’ Zoulou buried her bow into the back of a big wave and capsized. Unfortunately, in the incident, two of her crew sustained injuries. They were rapidly taken ashore and on to the hospital. The boat was towed back into Calvi Marina and righted by a crane at the dock. Her mast was broken in the incident.

Of racing in today’s big conditions, 2015 GC32 Racing Tour winning skipper Leigh McMillan, here racing on Simon Delzoppo’s film Racing, said: “It was slightly above the top end probably to race because we were going around the course almost in survival mode. But we found a nice safe mode to get around without being too far behind the fleet.”

Oddly this was one of the few occasions that the GC32s were actively trying not to get flying. As McMillan continued: “We were trying just to keep the boat steady, tracking along and get the manoeuvres in safely and finish the day the right way up. We played with the rake of the foils and we were kind of semi-foiling most of the time.”

After two races the boats were sent back into Calvi Marina and soon after racing was suspended for the day.

Leader at the end of the day one is Realteam with a 2-1 scoreline, three points ahead of Malizia – Yacht Club de Monaco.

 

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Emirates Team New Zealand confirm monohull for Cup

 

The America’s Cup Class is expected to use similar foil systems to the IMOCA60 class. However there is no reference point for a round the buoys foiling monohull – Guillaume Verdier

 

 

America’s Cup – Emirates Team New Zealand confirm monohull for Cup

 

Following comments attributed to Luna Rossa principal, Patrizio Bertelli, Emirates Team New Zealand have confirmed that the next America’s Cup will be sailed a high performance monohull yacht.

A statement issued by the team this evening (NZT) reads:

Emirates Team New Zealand can confirm Patrizio Bertelli’s suggestion today that the next America’s Cup will be sailed in high performance monohull yachts.

Currently there are a team of designers, lead by Emirates Team New Zealand Design Coordinator Dan Bernasconi working on various exciting monohull concepts which will eventually help shape the AC36 Class Rule.

Emirates Team New Zealand have been consulting with a number of potential challengers and there is an overall desire to have a spectacular monohull yacht that will be exciting to match race, but also one that the public and sailors can relate to as a sail boat that really challenges a full crew of professional yachtsman around the race track.

Further details of the Protocol for the 36th America’s Cup will be announced at the end of the month.

Britons Saxton and Dabson win 2017 Nacra 17 Worlds

 

Ben Saxton & Katie Dabson (GBR) – photo c Didier Hillaire

 

Nacra 17 World Championship, La Grande Motte, France

 

From the closest and most exciting finishes to a world championship medal race in the Nacra 17 multihull class, Great Britain’s Ben Saxton and Katie Dabson pipped Spanish rivals Fernando Echavarri and Tara Pacheco, foiling at full speed across the finish line to win the 2017 Nacra 17 World Championship title on the French waters of the Baie d’Aigues Mortes by La Grande Motte.

Down the final run the Spanish veteran Echavarri, 2008 Olympic gold medallist in the Tornado catamaran class, sailing with Tara Pachecho, lead the British duo into the finish of the double points medal race but was lifted by the breeze and lost out to the flying, fully foiling Brits who judged to perfection their layline to the finish.

“In all my years that is the closest finish I have been involved in. It was decided in the last 20 seconds.” smiled Echavarri ruefully, “But to be honest if it is not us who won I am happy to see Ben and Katie win, they have worked hard and deserve it.”

“When we were coming towards the top of the second beat I said to Katie ‘world champions, all we have to do is pass that boat. So we were gunning it down pretty hard, we really went for it.” reported helm Saxton who was runner up for the World Championship title in 2013 in The Hague.

After a disappointing ninth at the 2016 Rio Olympic regatta Saxton paired up only in May with childhood friend Dabson, a Plymouth University BA Hons graduate in Accountancy and Finance, who only went into full time sailing after completing her degree, inspired by the 2012 Olympics in Weymouth.

The new world champions have been friends at England’s Grafham Water Sailing Club since they were cadets and their fathers race a Flying 15 together on Wednesday nights.

For Dabson who had a year spell in the 470 it has been a dream baptism into the class and catamaran sailing. The duo had sailed three regattas together and medalled at them all, third as the Sailing World Cup Finals and also taking bronze at the European Championship in Kiel, Germany.

“It is pretty surreal. I am so happy and was quite emotional crossing the finish line.” said Dabson, “Before May I did a year in the 470 but this is my first real Olympic sailing so it is amazing. It was down to which of the top three did best in the medal race, so we had a bit. We kept our cool. We raced our boat and we did it. Ben was just saying, ‘race our boat, keep our tempo, it is the same as any other race, you know what you are doing, so do it!”

“We both work hard and we put together a pretty consistent week. We just kept on churning. We have good support here and they really keep us grounded.” added Saxton, “I know the Olympics are three years away but it is great to win. It is fantastic.”

Echavarri, sailing with Pacheco – who won the European title on these same waters in 2014 with Iker Martinez – completes a successful post Olympic season after winning the Sailing World Cup Finals on his native Santander waters and finishing runner up in the European Championships to Italy’s Ruggero Tita and Caterina Banti who finish third, 14 points behind the Spanish runners up, whose best Nacra 17 Worlds result this is.

In the gusty, offshore, 11 – 22 knots of breeze, Tita and Banti tangled with Spain’s Iker Martinez and Olga Maslivets approaching the first windward mark. Martinez and Maslivets were dismasted and neither pair could complete the Medal Race course.

“We were arriving at the top mark and were below the mark so we needed two more tacks but there was not enough space to clear Iker. We tried to stop but we hit them, our bowsprit got stuck on their trapeze and ten seconds later their mast broke. It was a really big mistake on our part. We had a really good week but could have done better. Third place is not gained with a smile, we deserved to do better.” said European champion helm Tita.

The Medal Race in the gusty breezes and flat water was a perfect arena showcase finale to the 2017 Nacra 17 World Championships. Ironically at the first post-Olympic meeting of all three 2016 Rio medal winners, none made the cut into the top ten qualifiers for the medal race. Australia’s silver winners Jason Waterhouse and Lisa Darmanin finished 11th and Argentina’s Santi Lange and Cecilia Carranza – who scored a BFD in the penultimate race – finished 13th. New Zealand’s Gemma Jones and Jason Saunders won both the last Finals races prior to the medal race and finish fourth overall, repeating their Rio finish.

It was appropriate in the first flying, foiling medal race that Saxton and Dabson clinched the title at maximum speed, fully foiling down the last part of the last run to steal second place. Germany’s Paul Kohlhoff and Alicia Stuhlemmer lead from the first mark and won the medal race to finish fifth overall.

Disappointment at his ninth in Rio has been a spur for Saxton who took six months out before restarting with Nicola Groves before the first time Olympian decided to pursue other avenues.

“I was really gutted after the Games. I had given it everything and have no regrets but we were in a medal position for the first half of the regatta then we had the worst score for years. We were happy with the programme we put together. Nic wanted to earn some money and did not want to be 31 years and pulling a Nacra mainsheet in. She was happy to have been to the Olympics and wanted to move on to her job in London. I have been full on since January. I have done all the events to stay racing sharp. We won this regatta on tactical decisions, like gybe setting in the medal race. We were mid fleet, gybe set and got up to second.” Saxton added,

“We have such a good squad in Britain and did three months hard work in Weymouth with our coaches Hugh (Styles) and Derek (Clark). We had an awesome time and learned a lot together. And the 49er guys (Dylan Fletcher and Stu Bithell) winning the world 49er title last weekend, and James (Peters) and Fynn (Sterrit) got a medal too, so it did cross my mind I should buck my ideas up.”

 

Nacra 17 World Championship, La Grande Motte, France.

 

1 Ben SAXTON/Katie DABSON (GBR) 92pts

2 Fernando ECHAVARRI ERASUN/Tara PACHECO (ESP) 95pts

3 Ruggero TITA/Caterina BANTI (ITA) 109pts

4 Gemma JONES/Jason SAUNDERS (NZL) 111pts

5 Paul KOHLHOFF/Alicia STUHLEMMER (GER) 115pts

6 John GIMSON/Anna BURNET (GBR) 115pts

7 Moana VAIREAUX/Manon AUDINET (FRA) 121pts

8 Lin Ea CENHOLT/Christian Peter LUBECK (DEN) 122pts

9 Iker MARTINEZ/Olga MASLIVETS (ESP) 128pts

10 Olivia MACKAY/Micah WILKINSON (NZL) 129pts

 

Full results @ http://bit.ly/2xOudIo

 

Photos Copyright Didier Hillaire : HERE

 

 

Max Salminen secures Opel Finn Gold Cup after intense medal race

 

Max Salminen wins the Finn Gold Cup  – photo c Robert Deaves

 

Opel Finn Gold Cup at Lake Balaton, Hungary

 

Max Salminen, from Sweden, has secured his first Finn world title as the 2017 Opel Finn Gold Cup closes at Balatonföldvár with an extremely close and intense medal race in light winds. Jonathan Lobert, from France took the silver while Nicholas Heiner, from The Netherlands, took bronze after leading the race from start to finish.

With a reasonable wind forecast it was with some dismay that the sailors arrived at Spartacus SC to a windless lake and a postponement. However it wasn’t long before an easterly wind was in place and the top 10 were sent out for the medal race.

The title was down to five sailors, with Salminen, Wright and Lobert with the best chances, and Heiner and Zsombor Berecz, from Hungary with outside chances.

Sailed in 6-8 knots it was the kind of conditions the sailors had expected all week, and that many had trained for. Heiner was especially keen to sail in light winds and it was soon obvious why as he took the lead on the first upwind and never relinquished it. He had done everything needed to be in with a chance of a medal, now it just depended what happened behind him.

Ed Wright, from Britain, started badly and then got a yellow flag on the downwind. But he pulled back on the subsequent legs to cross in sixth place.

Lobert had an even worse first leg, rounding the first mark in last place and having a lot of work to do to keep a medal or take the title. He made some ground downwind and on the second upwind and then moved up to fifth on the final downwind, which was just enough for the silver medal.

Salminen controlled his main opponents and defended against Lobert and Wright. But the title nearly slipped away from him on the final downwind as the pressure dropped out on the left and both boats passed him just before the finish.

 

Jonathan Lobert FRA – photo c Robert Deaves

 

As the fleet crossed the finish line there was some frantic maths to work out who had won what. In the end, it was extremely close, with just three points separating the top four boats. Even the coaches didn’t want to commit for fear of missing a point. But finally the results were known and the celebrations began.

In the final race for the rest, it was quite fitting that the race win went to the new U23 World Champion Oskari Muhonen, from Finland. This gave him an impressive 11th overall in the Finn Gold Cup.

Facundo Olezza, from Argentina, picked up the best U23 prize from Muhonen and Henry Wetherell, from Britain.

Sailing at his first Finn Gold Cup, Heiner commented, “I think it was quite an interesting week, and for sure not what we expected wind wise. In the training days and early races we had quite a decent breeze and finally today we had a bit lighter and the training paid off and I won the medal race.”

“Having said that, I think I lost a few places in the races just by my own mistakes, so I am a bit disappointed with that, so could have got away with a bit more.”

After his first year in the class, “I have spent nearly a year in the Finn now and spent three quarters of the year training with Rafa [Trujillo]. It’s my first Finn Gold Cup and it’s not a bad result if you think about it. I have had a really nice season, but for sure I need to be a bit more consistent on speed. We know how to race, but I need a few extra kg down to be competitive against the big guys in a breeze. So we are going to hit the gym and the supermarkets again.”

 

Nicholas Heiner NED –  photo c Robert Deaves

 

Lobert, who nearly gave up sailing after a disappointing result in Rio last year continues his stellar season.

“It was a very tough week. We did seven very good races and I think I have been sailing very well all week. I was at least five times leading races, but in the end I lost a few points and today I paid the price by finishing second by one point.”

“It’s very, very frustrating, but if someone had told me I would finish second with one point to the gold, I would have been happy. It’s a medal and I am happy to being another one home.”

He adds the silver to the European title and third in Hyeres. “The season has been very good to me, so not to bad for someone who was away for a while after the Olympics.”

On the medal race, “It was very tricky. I thought there was more pressure on the right, so I was protecting that on the first upwind, but it came from the left. But I kept on fighting and came back into the game.”

On the competition, “It was a very intense medal race. We could all play for the medals, and that was very nice. I was really looking forward to going on the water and having a nice race.”

“I think it is good for the Finn to see that there are so many guys and countries and the level of the fleet is always getting better.”

Salminen was also disappointed with his performance in Rio last year.

“It was a devastating medal race in Rio, so that’s why this success is even more sweet now to be able to show to myself that I could pull off a good medal race and do what I need to do”

“It’s been an amazing week and I am just so happy that, even though it was a really light medal race that I managed to finish it off in the best way.”

“I got away really good and managed to control the other bib holders around the course, but then the last downwind the wind died a bit and it got a bit nerve wracking there for a bit.”

He has trained with Lobert for many years. “Beating Jonathan at any event is as big an achievement as winning the world title. He is an amazing opponent and sparring partner, one of the best who pushed me each and every day.”

On Balaton “I tried not to have any expectations about sailing here. I knew there could be some waiting on shore, but especially the first half of the week was amazing, with really good racing. It’s challenging for any venue to host a event like this with 100 plus Finns, so it’s been a positive surprise to me.”

“This has been the target all year and we were trying to train in the light stuff, but it only really paid off in the last race.”

At the prizegiving he paid tribute to his coach Dayne Sharp, his training partners Lobert and Tapio Nirkko, from Finland, and also to the whole fleet for being such good role models for the sport of sailing and such good examples of sportsmanship.

Finally, thank you to Spartacus Sailing Club and Balatonföldvár for putting on an outstanding Finn Gold Cup, for Opel and the other sponsors, for all the supporters and helpers. The friendly welcome and hospitality the sailors have received has been nothing short of exceptional.

 

Final result (medal race in brackets)

1 SWE 33 Max Salminen 47pts (8)

2 FRA 112 Jonathan Lobert 48pts (5)

3 NED 89 Nicholas Heiner 50pts (1)

4 GBR 11 Ed Wright 50pts (6)

5 HUN 40 Zsombor Berecz 53pts (2)

6 GRE 77 Ioannis Mitakis 59pts (3)

7 POL 17 Piotr Kula 80pts (10)

8 ARG 48 Facundo Olezza 83pts (9)

9 CRO 69 Milan Vujasinovic 92pts (4)

10 NOR 1 Anders Pedersen 95pts (7)

 

 

Brits Saxton & Dabson lead into World Champs showdown

 

Ben Saxton & Katie Dabson – photo c Didier Hillaire

 

Nacra 17 World Championships at La Grande Motte

 

Title contenders at the Nacra 17 World Championships in La Grande Motte in the South of France may be relishing what is expected to be a big winds Sunday finale, a chance to show the newly foiling, flying Nacra 17 at its best and most exciting, but they had to deal with a penultimate day of light, fickle and patchy winds as a precursor.

At the end of today’s three challenging Finals contests the British Sailing Team’s Ben Saxton and Nacra newcomer Katie Dabson lead by just four points of Spain’s 2008 Olympic Tornado gold medallist Fernando Echavarri and 2011 470 World Champion Tara Pacheco, while a strong 3,4,1 today from John Gimson and Anna Burnet sees thee British duo up to third, ten points behind the Spanish pair.

A brisk NW’ly Tramontane breeze is due to blow in off the Camargue’s salty steppes at up to 25kts by afternoon tomorrow. The schedule is for two more races, starting from 1000hrs, for the Gold fleet before the showdown Medal race. But this may be altered depending on the wind and sea state, the priorities being safe and fair racing and the arena style Medal race which is usually scheduled to be sailed on the inshore arena. If conditions permit it will be the first time the newly flying, foiling Nacra 17s have contested a single Medal Race.

Neither at the European Championships nor the Aarhus 2018 Sailing World Championships Test event did a single, showdown medal race take place. The British Sailing Team’s coach, 2000 Sydney Olympian Hugh Styles highlighted the excitement among the sailors, “It will be a great day. There are not so many chances you get to do something so different in Olympic sailing. It is very positive.”

“ We will see another new dimension of sailing here. It should be a great show. It is so exciting to be involved in this part of the sport at this early stage and it is all really developing fast. World Sailing has done a great job of embracing the opportunity to try something different. And all the sailors here are really relishing this opportunity. In some respects the outcome tomorrow is not so, so important. At the moment this is about learning and that is a very engaging thing.”

Up and Down Day Echavarri and Pacheco won the first of today’s races ahead of Saxton and Dabson but then, after the wind shifted from the NW into the SW for a shifty, difficult second race the Spanish duo plummeted to a 19th when US duo Riley Gibbs and Olympian Louisa Chafee triumphed with the British pair second again.

Britons Gimson and Burnet won the third race to get themselves into contention for the final day, the leaderboard holding some similarities going into the final day as there was one week ago at the 49er World Championships in Porto.

While World Ranked 1 Saxton, ninth in Rio, has been in the Nacra 17 pretty much since the mixed class debuted in March 2013 and was runner up to the Nacra 17 World title in 2013 in The Hague, Holland, world championship sailing is relatively new to Katie Dabson. Although she has known Saxton for many years and the pair grew up at the same sailing club, Grafham Water, she has only recently started sailing full time.

Together they won the last two breezy races when the chips were down at the Europeans to steal the bronze medal in Kiel. After racing today Dabson said, “It is still is a bit of a dream for me to be here and having been able to jump in the boat only in May with someone like Ben. He knows what he is doing. It is a steep learning curve but we seem to be getting there. I was in the 470 for about a year. We have known each other pretty much since we were born, well, certainly from Grafham Water Sailing Club where we grew up. He knows what the boat needs. He was someone to fit the boat. I have some height on some of the crews. It is useful to be able to get your weight further out and get foiling. “ Tomorrow will be a big day, pretty windy.” “ It will be nice to get out in some wind. Before this I was at university and so as soon as I went full time it was straight into the Nacra 17. This is my first introduction to Olympic sailing and big events. Externally maybe it looks OK but internally I am, like, ahhhh! But we have such good support here and at home, everyone is very aware that I have been thrown in at the deep end. That is very useful, they are very helpful and really on it.

As predicted the title hunt remains wide open. Frustratingly for the leading pair a 19th in the final race spent a lot of the 15pts lead they had going into the third and last race of the day, and they have a U flag penalty as their discard. Dabson added, “We try not to think too much about the UFD because it could get to you. We are just treating each race as a race on its own, racing with what you have got.”

Italy’s European Champions Ruggero Tita and Caterina Banti are fourth, 15pts off the lead and Spain’s double Olympic medallist Iker Martinez with Olga Maslivets are fith, 17 pts behind the leaders. Maybe Martinez is cherishing memories of stealing the 2014 European title here on a windy final day and looking to create a repeat performance.

 

Standings: 

Gold fleet after 15 races and 2 discards

1 Ben SAXTON/Katie DABSON (GBR) 67pts

2 Fernando ECHAVARRI/Tara PACHECO (ESP) 71pts

3 John GIMSON/Anna BURNET (GBR) 81pts

4 Ruggero TITA/Caterina BANTI (ITA) 82pts

5 Iker MARTINEZ/Olga MASLIVETS (ESP) 84pts

6 Olivia MACKAY/Micah WILKINSON (NZL) 88pts

7 Moana VAIREAUX/Manon AUDINET (FRA) 93pts

8 Gemma JONES/Jason SAUNDERS (NZL) 95pts

9 Lin Ea CENHOLT/Christian Peter LUBECK (DEN) 95pts

10 Jason WATERHOUSE/Lisa DARMANIN (AUS) 99pts

 

Full results @ http://nacra17.org/events/2017-world-championship/

 

 

Medal race line-up decided after second day of no racing 

 

 

Opel Finn Gold Cup on Lake Balaton

 

The Finn Gold Cup is an extraordinary collective experience that is second to none in the Finn sailor’s calendar. It brings together sailors from across the world, and across the spectrum of experience and ability. It matches Olympic champions against the best youth in the world; it matches experienced helms against the inexperienced; the young against the old; the knowledgeable against the knowledge hungry; the elite against the club sailor. There is nothing quite like it on the Olympic campaign trail. It is unique to the Finn class and something that is valued and respected by Finn sailors across the world.

It is a fantastic university of sailing with knowledge and experience flowing down and through the fleet, with sailors sharing an understanding of how to sail this simple and yet complex sailboat, both within their own pier groups and most importantly to the new generation of Finn sailors. There are 35 U23 sailors on Balaton this week, all soaking up the experience of the exceptional level of knowledge on offer from the top sailors.

The insight that sailors learn from competing alongside and against such a world-class fleet stay with them for the rest of their lives and set them up to be the world and Olympic champions of the future. You cannot buy this experience; it has to be earned through competing at the Finn Gold Cup. The 113 sailors here are learning this valuable lesson day by day. Even a day spent on shore turns into a valuable learning and bonding experience with conversations and sharing of experience and stories that educate and clarify the magic of sailing a Finn.

Max Salminen of Sweden will go into Sunday’s medal race at the Opel Finn Gold Cup with a seven-point advantage at the top of the leader board after no more races were sailed on Day 6 in Balatonföldvár.

For the second day running no racing was possible, despite a promising forecast. The expected wind arrived far too late to be useful and the time limit expired before a race could be held.

The sailors were held on shore until mid afternoon, until, with the time limit of 16.00 hrs approaching, the fleet was released at 14.20 hrs to wait on the lake to make the best use of any wind. Within 10 minutes the decision was rewarded with a sailable wind, however by the time the sailors arrived at the start line the wind had evaporated.

Thirty minutes later the race committee smelt some wind further south and moved over to investigate. It soon signaled everyone to follow and all support and coach boats were called upon to tow the fleet half a mile south to meet the incoming wind.

Time was tight with the deadline fast approaching, and the race committee did a fantastic job setting up a course and a start line in time to hoist the orange flag at 15.55 hrs, the latest possible time.

However at 1 minute to go before the start the wind shifted 30 to 40 degrees, skewing the start line and the upwind, which meant the race committee had no option but to abandon racing for the day, as the time limit had passed.

So the results from Thursday decide the medal race line-up.

The medal race is planned to be held first on Sunday with any of the top five sailors mathematically capable of winning the title. Only Ed Wright, of Britain, has won the title before, in 2010. After that race has been sailed the final race from 11th and up is scheduled.

 

Medal race sailors

1 SWE 33 Max Salminen 31

2 GBR 11 Ed Wright 38

3 FRA 112 Jonathan Lobert 38

4 NED 89 Nicholas Heiner 48

5 HUN 40 Zsombor Berecz 49

6 GRE 77 Ioannis Mitakis 53

7 POL 17 Piotr Kula 60

8 ARG 48 Facundo Olezza 65

9 NOR 1 Anders Pedersen 81

10 CRO 69 Milan Vujasinovic 84

 

Just 11 points separate the top seven teams

photos © Didier Hilliare

 

Day 4 – Nacra 17 Worlds at La Grande Motte 

 

It is the Italian tricolour flying highest over La Grande Motte in the South of France after the first day of gold fleet racing at the Nacra 17 World Championships.

As the intensity of the first day of gold fleet Finals racing took full effect, compounded by there being only one way to go off the high octane start lines, several top seeds made mistakes, including black flag penalties some which may yet prove very costly.

As recently crowned European Champions Ruggero Tita and Caterina Banti stepped two points clear at the top of the leaderboard, Italian teams won all three races. Tita and Banti finish the day two points ahead of Spanish rival pairs Fernando Echavarri and Tara Pacheco and Iker Martinez and Olga Maslivets who are just one point apart.

But with six races and Sunday’s medal race still to go, the 2017 championship is wide open, with just 10 points between the first seven crews, and top coaches and medal winning athletes alike expect this chase go down to the wire on Sunday’s medal race.

Now sailing with Maelle Frascari, Italy’s 2016 Rio Olympic helm Vittorio Bissario won the first race today as the first crew to start close to the pin, left end of the start line and break first away to the favoured left. They lead all the way around the course, benefiting from the bend on the left side of the course and the slight extra pressure. In contrast compatriots, Tita and Banti had a poor start and had to fight back to 15th in the 24 boat gold fleet.

 

photos © Didier Hilliare

Roller coaster leaderboard

In the 10-12kt sea breeze conditions which remained relatively stable through the three races, increasingly the fight to get off the line and escape in good shape drew casualties. Britain’s Ben Saxton and Katie Dabson suffered a U flag disqualification which, after a 15th in the third race dropped them from second to fifth for the day.

Among the top title challengers, their weighty error was not isolated. No sooner had New Zealand’s Gemma Jones and Jason Saunders gone 2,8 to lead the regatta than they capsized in the third race to finish 24th.

Lying second Spain’s vastly experienced Fernando Echavarri warned, “This is still a long championship with six races to go. Every race it is easy to make a mistake and once you make a mistake or go to the wrong side it is really, difficult to get back to the top. It is going to be about the balance between taking just enough risk and too much risk to get into good positions.”

 

photos © Didier Hilliare

 

The leaderboard roller coaster continued as France’s top duo Moana Vaireux and Manon Audinet, based in La Grande Motte for much of the year, made their second bad start from three to finish 18th, dropping to seventh. And Danish duo Lin Ea Cenholt and Christian Peter Lübeck could not impose themselves as they lead the qualifying series, today going 16,13,13 to drop from first to fourth.

Franck Citeau, the coach of the French team contends, “The key today? Start, go left and the race was finished at the first tack. You had to win the buoy and get away. In this world championship, there is no favourite, no one has the edge. And right now there will be a different leader, a different world champion, each night until the end of the medal race. And it is the medal race which will decide this world championship and the podium.

In this fleet, everyone can make mistakes as we saw today. Perhaps Echavarri has the advantage, not in speed, not in technique but he is the metronome, he is the consistent one. With this new boat and the limited training time, we have all had then the level is pretty homogeneous, pretty even. Nobody stands out. And in the end, it might be like the Olympic Games were on the day Santi Lange won because he got the job done.”

There is a certain similarity between the European Championship podium and tonight’s World Championship leaderboard, Tita and Banti winning in Kiel in early July by a single point from Echavarri and Pacheco. There are also some features common to the 2014 European Championship on these same waters in La Grande Motte where Iker Martinez won, sailing with Pacheco. Italy’s Bissario was third at the championship.

Echavarri, 2008 Olympic Tornado gold medallist, was taking little store from their rise up the leaderboard, “We were struggling yesterday when we could not get out of our own way. Today we were fast and we are happy. But the fleet is so very even, one bad day can change everything. Basically, we were not on the course yesterday. We talked after racing, we don’t like to be in the corners and yesterday we did not take enough risk. But today there was more wind and we felt a little more comfortable. But in general a good day for the Spanish and the Italians.”

Echavarri concluded, ” There is a long way to go with these boats to be able to sail them to their potential, a long way. We did not train much, we did the Europeans and Aarhus. This winter will be key. It is too early to know where we will go in the winter and what we will do. We don’t have a plan for tomorrow far less the winter!”

Racing continues Saturday and Sunday with a forecast for Medal Race day, the deciding finale, promising 20+ kts.

 

Standings after Day 4: (top ten, 9 qualifying races, 3 finals races, 1 discard allowed only from QF series)

1 Ruggero Tita/Caterina Banti (ITA) 63pts

2 Fernando Echavarri/Tara Pacheco (ESP) 65pts

3 Iker Martinez/Olga Maslivets (ESP) 66pts

4 Lin Ea Cenholt/Christian Peter Lübeck (DEN) 71pts

5 Ben Saxton/Katie Dabson (GBR) 72pts

6 Gemma Jones/Jason Saunders (NZL) 74pts

7 Moanna Vaireaux/Marion Audinet (FRA) 74pts

8 Vittorio Bassaro/Maelle Frascari (ITA) 80pts

9 Jason Waterhouse/Lisa Darmanin (AUS) 80pts

10 Mateo Majdalani/Eugenia Bosco (ARG) 83pts

 

Full results can be found here.

 

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