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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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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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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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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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
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.
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/
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
photo © YCGM
At the Nacra 17 World Championships at La Grand Motte the class have been busy each night with a series of class meetings to try and steady the class which has suffered numerous setbacks after its short life as a fully foiling class.
2 Class meetings were held with all members and entrants over the first two nights of the Nacra 17 World Championships, where Class members voted in a series of stabilising measures.
The open forum meeting agenda was cut short after the allotted time was spent debating a single but very important topic: the use of the gennaker upwind. After two hours of debate, a sailor only vote was held. This vote changed, on a short-term basis for this World Championships only, the Sailing Instructions so as to rule out the use of gennakers upwind. The vote was very tight with both sides having some very valid arguments.
Four weeks ago, New Zealand’s Jones and Saunders initiated the use of gennakers upwind at the Europeans. Some fleet members took the concept forward, while others worked on trying to foil upwind with just the main and jib. While both concepts have had their moments in training, a 9-knot day at the worlds venue where the use of gennakers upwind won the practice racing worried the builders and some of the fleet enough to ask the Class for the practice to be reviewed.
To date, sailing upwind with the gennaker has not broken any masts. However, a couple of spinnakers have blown up and it is clear that they are not designed for this mode of sailing. After a lot of debate among the Class Executive a last minute vote, though inconvenient, was scheduled.
The following night, on the eve of racing, the Class held its AGM. An update was given to the World Council on topics not covered the previous night during the Open Forum. The Class discussed the future event schedule and other topics relevant to the Class. Three Vice Presidents and the CFO were elected to the Executive. One new VP was elected, Lisa Darminian (AUS), as well as re-elections of Murray Jones (NZL) as CFO, Sofia Bekkatorou (GRE) and Iker Martinez (ESP) as VPs.
Thereafter a series of debates and votes were taken on a number of equipment topics from the use of gennakers upwind, board position, mandatory and optional safety gear and foot loops. Much debate discussed having a period of stability in the Class. While evolution to remain current, and for performance, is desired the crux of the debate centred on the correct balance with a period of stability. Most of the sailors agreed that we should evolve to get the most out of the new boats but they really need as much certainty as possible about the platform over the next few years in the lead up to Tokyo. Ultimately a series of votes on various proposals emphasized stability over broad evolution, but with a focus on looking at low-cost and easy “quick wins” and a priority list of all potential options with a full investigation into longer term and more significant changes.
A number of proposals for specification changes to optimise sailing with the gennaker upwind was withdrawn after the debate, with the Technical Committee and designers to investigate in more detail the various options. The Class reviewed it’s earlier decision to sail with the boards down at all times and ultimately decided to a Class Rule change to have more flexibility and to allow the Race Officers to prescribe times when boards may be raised in lighter airs. This change will allow the Class to test the impact of raising boards and further Class guidance will be developed to guide the Race Officials.
Rule change to have more flexibility and to allow the Race Officers to prescribe times when boards may be raised in lighter airs. This change will allow the Class to test the impact of raising boards and further Class guidance will be developed to guide the Race Officials.
A vote to change the Class Rules to allow an extra foot loop was unanimously approved.
A number of Class Rules votes were conducted concerning safety. For the events in 2017, helmets, safety knives, and impact vests doubling as floatation devices were governed by each event’s Notice of Race. The Class proposed changes to its Class Rules to cement these issues. Of note is the ability for the Race Officials to determine when, in lighter winds, it is safe to race without helmets.
These Class Rule changes will be submitted to World Sailing for approval in the coming days.
In a positive development showing a new level of engagement of the sailors, the Class will meet again, informally, on Saturday, September 9, to review a list of small “quick win” improvements that can be investigated as well as some longer term investigations.
The sailors will help set the priority list for Nacra Sailing and the Technical Committee to investigate with the goal of making simple and cost-effective improvements to keep improving the performance of the Nacra 17.
An example of such improvements may be to allow a 3:1 traveller system, filling the screw holes in the rudder elevator and to look at the rudder gudgeons to see if we can reduce drag, weight and play in the system.
The Nacra 17 is meanwhile stumbling to the sharp end of the first foiling world championship with a medal race on the weekend.
Lin Ea Cenholt & Christian Peter Lubeck – photo © YCGM
Day 3 – Nacra 17 World Championships at La Grande Motte
The top two crews at the Nacra 17 World Championship both emerged from a challenging Race 7 of the Qualifying Series with their worst results yet. But, showing the hallmarks of potential champions, both regrouped and were immediately back into their stride during the subsequent two heats and so head into Friday and Saturday’s Finals with just a small cushion over the third placed team.
The World Championship leaders in La Grand Motte, France, remain Denmark’s Lin Ea Cenholt and Christian Peter Lubeck, local heroes when they won last month’s 2018 Aarhus Sailing World Championship Test Event.
The Danish duo who only narrowly missed Olympic selection to rivals Allan Norregard and Annette Viborg, broke from their usual ‘stay with the group and stay consistent’ strategy in today’s first light winds race, contested in a patchy 10 – 11kts of cross offshore breeze, only to find themselves hung out to dry hundreds of metres behind their rivals. They battled back to their discard, 19th.
In the same streaky breeze, which was enough, at times, to more favour the lighter crews who could foil and fly for periods, Great Britain’s duo Ben Saxton and Katie Dabson, who have only been together since May, also sailed their discard. They too bounced back to a 1,5 while the ice cool Danes went 2,2 to lead the Brits into the Finals by two points.
Spain’s double Olympic medallist Iker Martinez and Olga Maslivets had a similar day in the patchy, up and down sea breeze which did not quite reach the forecast 12kts.
They sailed to a first and a good fourth, but then had to fight back from deep to an eleventh. But while the Spanish aces are up to third in the standings because they already have an eleventh in their scoreline they go into the Finals eight points behind Saxton and Dabson.
With the top 24 pairs making the cut to the Gold Fleet, the business end of the Nacra 17 World Championship will see a big step up in the level. To date none of the Rio Olympic medallists are in the top five, Argentina’s Olympic champions Santi Lange and Cecilia Carrannza Carroli are sixth at their first Nacra 17 regatta since their Rio victory. They won the third race of the day. But silver medallists Jason Waterhouse and Lisa Darmanin are eighth and bronze winner, Austria’s Thomas Zajac with new crew Barbara Matz are 19th.
The Danes Cenhholt and Lübeck have been as impressively consistent on the Camargue’s Baie d’Aigues Mortes as they were winning on their home waters.
Britain’s leading helm Saxton, who finished ninth in Rio and is one of the most experienced in the fleet having started in 2013 when he was runner up for the world title, warned:
“The Danes are fast, start well and are good upwind and downwind. But it is a going to get a lot tougher. It is wicked to be here among all these good sailors. I relish the opportunity from here.”
But theirs is a potent pairing, the fresh drive and impetus brought aboard from the powerful, smart Dabson complementing Saxton’s experience, “We are good at cracking on, never switching off, we work hard and are good at regrouping and getting going again and that makes us quite nice and consistent.” Saxton said, “Katie has been great. There are not many sailors could hop on to the boat in May and already have a Europeans medal. Credit to her. She puts a lot of effort in and that goes a long way.”
“Some people are playing more than others. I tried a new setting today in the boat, just how you set the power up in the boat, and that seemed to work and so we are learning every day.” Saxton concluded.
Fourth in Rio, New Zealand’s Gemma Jones and Jason Saunders are nicely poised in fourth.
Saunders said: “Overall today we are happy because the wind was a bit fickle on our course. We are happy with our start to the regatta The first objective was to be in the gold fleet and not to do anything stupid Now the serious things start tomorrow. We are in the match but the intensity goes up and up from here. Before the regatta we had worked hard at sailing upwind with the gennaker and that was not allowed so we had to regroup, relearn a lot of stuff. But we have been making good starts which are not usually our best points. So these are good learnings now to carry forwards to the Finals.”
Standings after Day 3: (top ten, 9 races, 1 discard)
1 Lin Ea Cenholt Christensen/Christian Peter Lubeck (DEN) (12, 1, 1, 3, 4,4, (19), 2, 2) 29pts
2 Ben Saxton/Katie Dabson (GBR) 31pts (6,4,2,6,5,2 (10),1,5) 31pts
3 Iker Martinez/Olga Maslivets (ESP) (1,(11), 9,4,7,1,4,1,11) 38pts
4 Gemma Jones/Jason Saunders (NZL) (3,5,4,(14), 3,7,5,11,2) 40pts
5 Moana Vaireaux/Manon Audinet (FRA) (6,5,7,4,3,3,9,6,(10) 43pts
6 Santiago Lange/Cecilia Carranza (ARG) (9,7,3,1,8,6,(12),10,1) 45pts
7 Ruggero Tita/Caterina Banti (ITA) (12,2,10,6,1,2,3 (18), 10) 46pts
8 Jason Waterhouse/Lisa Dalmanin (AUS) (4,9,12,5,1,5,(13),4,7) 47pts
9 Pablo Defazio/Dominique Knuppel (URU) (5,3,5,5,14,(17), 3,9,3) 47pts
10 John Gimson/Anna Burnett (GBR) (3,4,2,(14),6,7,7,13,8) 50pts
Nacra 17 World Championships at La Grande Motte
American duo Riley Gibbs and Louisa Chafee were the leaders at the Nacra 17 World Championships after the first three qualifying races were contested in light, sub 10 kt breezes and pleasant sunshine off La Grande Motte’s Baie de Aigues Mortes. They were protested after racing for a measurement infringement and penalised, ceding the lead to Britain’s John Gimson and Anna Burnett.
As if to answer the question whether the younger generation can make a big impression at these first ever foiling Nacra World Championships, foiling kiteboarder and 49er racer Gibbs, 21, paired with Rio Olympian Chafee, 25, had opened with an opening second and two first places from their 24 strong Blue fleet group and were credited with the provisional early lead of the championship. But they were subsequently protested and penalised for sailing with the rubber bushes at the top of the foils removed, contrary to the International Jury’s interpretation of the measurement rules.
The young Americans, training partners of injured Bora Gulari and Helena Scutt who – Scutt reported after the hearing – had already trained with the bushes removed in order to preserve maximum strength in the head area rather than seek a performance gain were it to allow the foil to drop lower. “This is not about any performance gain this is about the strength in that part of the board.” Scutt emphasised after the hearing. “We had the boards not once, but twice, to measurement like that and so we considered it was fine.” Added USA coach David Howlett.
With the young American pair receiving a 50 per cent place penalty for each of their races, John Gimson and Anna Burnett now lead a British Sailing Team 1-2 at the top of the World Championship standings with New Zealand’s Rio Olympians Gemma Jones and Jason Saunders in third. While several key groups have been working up on Lake Garda and here in La Grande Motte for example, the five strong British Nacra 17 squad have been training hard together as a unit on their native Olympic waters off Weymouth and Portland. They showed well at the first foiling Nacra 17 event, the European Championship in Kiel where British Sailing Team crews took three of the top six places.
Helm Gimson outlines the ongoing British squad philosophy, “The GBR squad, all five British boats, ourselves Ben Saxton, Tom Phipps, Rupert White and Chris Rashley have all been training together in Weymouth which has been good. We did a lot of practice sailing with the kite up upwind and then that got banned the day before the event and so we have been trying to remember how to sail ‘old style’. The training as a squad has been great, everyone has their different strengths, now we need to learn to race.”
Fifth in Kiel, Gimson, added, “We picked up our boat the day before the Europeans and then built it the day before and then raced. But we had spent a lot of time in Bermuda with Artemis sailing the foiling Nacra 20s. It was just about converting that to the platform we have now.” “Some guys are making the upwind foiling work, Ben (Saxton and Katie Dabson) are making that work reasonably, the Kiwis have a nice mode as have the Italians but you need a lot of space to do that. It is OK on tuning runs but on the race course it is a different story.”
Consistency in the light conditions on the opening day was not easy. Although the left on both course areas appeared to yield some profit in additional wind pressure there was some concern that the sea breeze might move to the right. First blood on the Blue course went to Spain’s Iker Martinez and Olga Maslivets who lead to the first top mark ahead of Gibbs and Chaffee, the double Olympic medallist and Maslivets holding on to their early margin to the finish line. On the corresponding Yellow area Italy’s Lorenzo Bressani and Cecilia Zorzi – who, like Martinez missed out on Rio selection – also started out with a Race 1 victory.
But Martinez and Maslivets struggled in the second race, rounded third from last, and had to fight back to a mid fleet 12th, going 1,12,9 for the day to lie 21st just behind Rio gold winners Lange and Carannza Saroli. Recently crowned European Champions Ruggero Tita and Caterina Banti of Italy started modestly with two mid-fleet results and a second place but the Danish winners of the 2018 Sailing World Championships Aarhus Test Regatta, Lin Ea Cenholt and Christian Peter Lubeck came back after a modest 12th place opener to win both their subsequent races.
Helm Cenholt commented, “For us, we are really happy with our speed on the downwinds and having a lot of fun testing the boat and pushing it and seeing how we can make it a little faster. We might be falling off the foils now and then but it is all about the learning process. We got the boat on the 20th of June and so we did the Europeans and Aarhus. In Aarhus we were just consistent, we did not win a single race but our worst race was a fifth. Today we learned a lot, especially towards the goals which are finding the best settings upwind. Today I think we maybe got a little closer to a faster mode but also we are developing our settings- knowing how powerful the sails need to be set up for this boat.”
Racing starts at 1100hrs Wednesday with a forecast for NW’ly breeze in the morning.
Results can be found here : http://nacra17.org/events/2017-world-championship/