Monthly Archives: March 2016
M32 racing in Fremantlle – Photo © Ian Roman
Aston Harald Sports, the rights owner of the M32 Series for high performance M32 multihulls, has announced the launch of a new M32 Series in the Mediterranean. The series will start in June in France followed by events in Riva Del Garda, and Crotone in Italy, with the finals in Spain in October.
Teams from Italy, France, Spain, Scandinavia and the US have already registered their interest in joining the five-stage Mediterranean series.
Swiss match racer and skipper of EFG Bank Sailing Team, Christopher Rast, and Guido Miani from the Yacht Club de Monaco, are both looking forward to the start of the series;
“We can’t wait to start racing the M32 this summer. This will for sure be a very tough but fun racing series in some great locations” commented Rast with a newly formed team out of Geneva.
“The high speed [America’s Cup] style fleet racing is fun for both the sailors and the audience and we’re ready to put on a show! We want to get in early to establish our team as a top team on the series” said Miani.
Further info on the M32 Series can be found at: www.m32series.com
All Photos © Robert Deaves
Finn European Championships at Barcelona, Spain
Something different happened today in Barcelona. Pieter-Jan Postma (NED) managed to maintain his overnight lead and win the 2016 Finn European Championship. Probably the most popular person in the fleet, if not in the sport of sailing, this is an extremely popular win in the class and one that is long overdue. He held it together in the stressful medal race to take home the gold. There were great performances and results also for Zsombor Berecz (HUN) who took the silver, and Milan Vujasinovic (CRO) who won the bronze. The final day’s racing was a fitting end to a testing week in Barcelona.
First up was the final race to not only decide the top 10 for the medal race but also the very tight US Olympic selection. The race was brought forward to 9.30 hrs to try and use the early morning breeze, which was timed to perfection as the breeze died as the fleet crossed the finish line.
As usual it took one general recall before the fleet got away, but the start under the black flag got away cleanly. The right side was favoured with Vujasinovic tacking right at the boat end of the line and leading round the top, never to be headed, for his second race win the of the week. Caleb Paine (USA) rounded second with Piotr Kula (POL) in third. A number of the top sailors were deep, including second overall Josh Junior (NZL). Paine’s main adversary Zach Railey (USA) was also deep and it looked like it was game over for the US selection.
The fleet closed on Vujasinovic on the final downwind as the breeze almost vanished, but there was just enough to push them across the finish and for the whole fleet to finish. Kula had moved up to second while Tom Ramshaw (CAN) ended an excellent week with a third. Paine crossed in seventh to secure the US berth in Rio, while Railey, who had chosen the wrong side of the first upwind was still mid fleet.
Finishing in 16th overall, Ondrej Teply (CZE) adds the Junior European title to the Junior World title he won last year. Philip Kasueke (GER) took the silver medal in 30th place overall, while the bronze went to Arkadiy Kistanov (RUS) in 34th overall.
Regatta leader Pieter-Jan Postma (NED) placed seventh to keep his first title hopes alive, though Vujasinovic was now up to second with Berecz in third. Any one of them could win the gold.
They all kept everyone guessing right to the end of the medal race. Postma held the early advantage and then ducked two boats at the top to round in third. Then on the downwind he let Vujasinovic split gybes to chase a puff which never arrived. When they came back at the gate the Croatian was up to second and Postma was down to seventh. It was a long way from over. Berecz then moved up to second on the final upwind, so the final downwind to the finish would be decisive. Though there was a nice sea breeze in place it was under 10 knots so they all had to be careful.
Vasilij Zbogar (SLO) had rounded the last mark in the lead and went on to win the race. A second from Berecz was enough to pass Vujasinovic and take the silver. Vujasinovic crossed in fifth to take the bronze and with Postma recovering to sixth, the gold was his, finally.
Vujasinovic described his week, “It turned out well for me. It’s my first medal in an Olympic class. I believe I had a pretty consistent week, except for one bad race, but everyone had one bad race apart from the Hungarian. I did a really good regatta. I stayed calm, I looked out for the small things around the course. It could have been even better than this but I am really happy with the bronze.”
“We’ve had a very good competition this week. It was just a training regatta for me but as it turned out, it was a very good training regatta.” Vujasinovic and Berecz train at the Dinghy Academy in Valencia. “Having two Dinghy Academy sailors on the podium is very good for us and I think our head coach Luca Devoti will be very happy with that.”
Berecz said, “We have a great week of sailing here and I am really happy I was one of the more consistent sailors during the week. It means that we are on the good way to Rio and we will keep working in the same way. There were 90 boats here and a really great thing about the Finn class is that everyone starts together which is very intense, and you have to make all the right decisions. It was close racing, every race was close, no one won by a huge margin. So it was really nice sailing.”
“When I started Finn sailing I asked Gyorgy Finaczy, who was the only other Hungarian to win a medal at the Europeans, a bronze in 1971, if I could use his sail number, HUN 40. He was really happy to give it to me, so I am very proud to win a silver medal with his number.”
Postma has never managed to convert a strong position into a major championship win. He has now overcome that at just the right time as he heads into Rio with the European title around his neck. “It was awesome. A very sold week, but a very light and shifty week. They were not really my conditions but we trained a lot for it. This is the bottom range for Rio and I had really good series. Great starts, good tactics, great strategy.”
“In the medal race I had a good start. I had Milan on the back of me and I had an awesome upwind and was second at the top and then downwind I let him go too far and he gained a lot and came in ahead of me. That was not the plan. So I had to catch him him up on the second beat.”
“It was very stressful after I lost control. Milan is an amazing sailor, as is Zsombor. The level is super high and I made one mistake and they directly went for it. To win in Rio you need more experience like that. With this win every step gets closer. So it will be a fight in Rio. I definitely want to do better in Rio. We still have a lot of work to do but it’s going well. Also thanks to my training partner Josh Junior (NZL) we keep improving and we’ll be ready.”
On his success and failures, “There have been some upsets. In the last Olympics I had a medal in my hands and I let it go. But it’s a process of experience and more and more experience counts. But this is big one for me I am really happy with this.”
Overall Results: (top 10, medal race in brackets)
1 NED 842 Pieter-Jan Postma 38 (6)
2 HUN 40 Zsombor Berecz 46 (2)
3 CRO 69 Milan Vujasinovic 47 (5)
4 NZL 24 Josh Junior 66 (4)
5 GBR 91 Ben Cornish 73 (9)
6 SLO 573 Vasilij Zbogar 76 (1)
7 BRA 109 Jorge Zarif 88 (3)
8 CRO 524 Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic 95 (8)
9 GRE 77 Ioannis Mitakis 97 (10)
10 CAN 18 Tom Ramshaw 99 (7)
Full results at http://2016.finneuropeans.org/en/default/races/race-resultsall
The fleet on day 3 of the International Moth UK Nationals at Stokes Bay – photo © Mark Jardine
Modern day look at the Moth Class
The Moth class is a thing of beauty. It has been around for longer than most of its current membership worldwide and continues to thrive to this day. How is this possible? I believe it’s down to the spirit of the class and the essence of what it represents and as a result the type of people that it attracts.
The old adage ‘like a moth to a flame’ is not lost on those drawn to sail these amazing boats so what exactly is it that compels men and women across the world to take on the challenge of conquering these tiny boats?
If we look at the type of person that sails these boats we can split them into two categories, Heroes and Legends. The heroes are the ones we all know, sailing superstars who have forged their professional careers in all disciplines of sailing from Volvo Ocean Race Yachts to Olympic class dinghies, Melges 24s to Solos.
Dylan Fletcher on day 3 of the International Moth UK Nationals at Stokes Bay
These heroes are a recent and welcome addition to the class and with the advent of the America’s cup moving to hydrofoiling, a natural choice for many professional sailors. Our heroes list is pretty much a world roster of top sailors across the globe. Here in the UK, most of our top 10 are made up of professional sailors with such accolades as Volvo Ocean Race winner, Olympic medallists, I14 POW winners and National Champions in a variety of fleets.
These men and women are made of different stuff, driven by a passion and commitment to racing that many of us mere mortals can only dream of. They push the envelope of development and tuning to places unforeseen by others. Committed to winning, they focus their energies on their given craft and their bodies, Racing to them is their life and winning is what drives them.
Simon Payne on day 6 of the Zhik Nautica Moth Worlds at Campione del Garda – photo © Th.Martinez / Sea&Co / www.thmartinez.com
But it wasn’t always like this in the moth class…
Back in 2007, I saw my first youtube video of foiling Moths. This was essentially the UK Moth fleet consisting of just a handful of boats. Among those names were Alex Adams (who went on to become part of the Vesta’s world record breaking Sail Rocket team), Adam May (now working with America’s Cup team Artemis), Simon Payne (Multiple World, European and National Champion in the Moth), Mike Cooke (Builder of the Ninja and the Rocket and also National Champion, filming at the time but nonetheless amongst those present) and James Roche who went on to be part of the design team of the 2014 Winter Olympics Gold winning Skeleton and is now part of the Ben Ainslie America’s Cup design team.
Ben Paton on day 3 of the International Moth UK Nationals at Stokes Bay
These guys formed the nucleus of what we see today in the UK and without their pioneering spirit, many of us would not be in the class today. Skip to the other side of the world and down under a similar movement was taking place. Rohan Veal was the poster boy of mothing at the time having joined forces with Amac (The man behind the game changing Mach2), we had people like Bruce McLoud proving that homebuilding a moth was possible. Taking that to the next level was David Lister who was one of the first people to foil tack consistently and is arguably the fastest mothie alive.
In the UK, fleet numbers are now up to 70 plus at a National Championship so the question is… who are these people?
The current demographic is hard to pin down because no two mothies are the same. We have a huge mix of self employed, high flying city execs, craftsmen, artists, designers, IT professionals, recruitment consultants and pretty much everything else, so trying to pin it down to career path is a tricky one. The only thing that I have been able to ascertain from my years in the class is that we are all slightly mad. We are unique in that we share the same goal of being on the edge of control in challenging situations whilst happening at the speed of light. Some are more determined than others and that is reflected in their position at regattas. On the other hand, some of us have more time to commit than others and this also helps to move up the ranks however, moving up the ranks is not on everyone’s mind. Some of us love having the opportunity to just race these fantastic machines alongside some of the greatest sailors in the world and on occasion, beat them.
If you ask any moth sailor what it is that keeps them coming back for more, it’s always the same answer.
Robert Greenhalgh on day 5 of the International Moth World Championships – photo © Tom Gruitt / YachtsandYachting.com
Here is what some of our heroes have to say:
Rob Greenhalgh, current UK National and European Champion (Volvo Ocean Race winner among other titles) says,
“I’ve been in the moth since 2012 and I keep coming back for more because the Moth is the most technically advanced singlehander on the planet and, being a development class, gives me options to evolve elements and work on new stuff.”
Chris Rashley on day 3 of the International Moth UK Nationals at Stokes Bay – photo © Mark Jardine
Chris Rashley our multiple European and UK National Champion says, “I started in the Moth just over 5 years ago after watching the highlights on youtube of the 2009 European Championships in Lake Silvaplana, Switzerland. I keep coming back because the boats are getting faster, easier to handle and the standard of the competition and the racing improves all the time. I won’t be going anywhere until I win the the World Championships.”
And from some of our legends:
Neil Baker, current ‘voice of the UK fleet’ has this to say about what mothing is to him:
“I’ve been sailing a foiling moth since November 2010. But I had a gentleman Jim lowrider (similar to magnum 8) from 96 to 1999. I continue to sail it and no other dinghy appeals. There aren’t any other boats that are enough of a buzz that I’d bother to go practice in. Frankly I could never race the Moth and just go for a play in it every now and then and be happy, I only sail because I love racing. All my other sailing was based around regattas. And there aren’t many that equal a Moth event so you just get bored and sell it.”
James Sainsbury, the only man to build a competitive Moth in his front room (no exaggeration!) started sailing foiling Moths three years ago and simply says: “It’s fun, it’s fast and you’d be hard pushed to get the feeling you get in a moth anywhere else.”
Ricky Tagg who is known to many, having been sailing since before the 2nd World War says, “I had my first sail in a Moth, a Mistress back in 2006/7, courtesy of my old friend David Ellis. I learned to sail at age of 5 and for nearly 40 years I got to race against and coach great sailors in iconic events and locations across the world. However, whilst I enjoyed the various campaigns and successes in a wide range of boats, I just got bored of racing and sailing.
After that one sail in a Moth, I just had to sail again and I didn’t care if I raced or not. In those days the boats were unrefined at best, however today, with much better boats and control systems, you pay no heed to the fact that you are doing mid to high 20s downwind and it still makes me smile and poke my tongue out! Am I tempted to change class? Hell No.”
As for me, seven years in and the class has become a part of me and visa versa. I cannot think of anything else I’d rather be doing then building them, sailing them, thinking about them or talking about them. I never foresaw this in my life years ago and I would like to think that I’ll be involved with them for many years to come.
The Moth today is a strange class in that it draws out the legends and the heroes from all walks of life. One thing is for sure, once you’ve sailed one, you’ll never be the same again. It is such a force of nature that it has changed the face of sailing forever, proving the concept that foiling is possible even with a 72 foot catamaran. Anyone who sails a moth is a legend!
By Phil Oligario, UK Moth class
Photos © Robert Deaves
Finn European Championships at Barcelona, Spain
After day four of the championship was cancelled due to lack of wind, day five at the Finn Europeans had it all, anticipation, excitement, disappointment and high drama. Pieter-Jan Postma (NED) takes the overall lead for the first time and goes into the final day with a ten point lead over his training partner Josh Junior (NZL). Milan Vujasinovic (CRO) is back up to third.
Though the forecast was for a weak wind again, most of the sailors expected a nice sea breeze to come in later in the day and after a brief postponement the fleet was sent out for two races in a 6-9 knot wind that provided tricky racing and lot of mixed fortunes.
Egor Terpigorev (RUS) showed up at the the front of the fleet for the first time, leading round the top mark in Race 5 from Ben Cornish (GBR) and Postma. Cornish had a narrow lead at the gate but Postma led at the end of the next upwind to set up an exciting final leg.
Cornish explained, “I got off the start quite well and got in phase with the shifts. Then the top five or six managed to break away from the fleet and we had some really close battles. It was just a case of getting it right on the last downwind. We managed to push out to the left and the wave direction was making it easy for me to gain. I felt as if I had control out there and the last reach to the finish was really exciting. As it happened PJ and I ended up neck and neck on the line and I just managed to get the last wave across the line.” Terpigorev sailed a great race to cross in third.
With the breeze still looking good, Ioannis Mitakis (GRE) led round the top in Race 6 from Postma and Ondrej Teply (CZE). The Greek sailor held the lead until the final downwind when with the leaders well split and the wind starting to turn patchy, it was anyone’s race.
Jonas Høgh-Christensen (DEN) came in with the best pressure to slip round the final mark ahead of Vasilij Zbogar (SLO) and Mitakis. A sixth place for Postma was enough to retain the championship lead he had gained after the first race of the day.
Høgh-Christensen said, “The first race was super tricky. I had a bad start and the wind went left and I thought it was going to go right so I rounded in about 70 something and caught back up to 29th. The second race was much better for me. I had a good start and worked the left side of the course and came up to the first mark in fourth and I think I rounded the bottom in third. I was second at the top and ended up winning the race, so that was super.”
“They were really tricky conditions. I think there were two seas breezes fighting each other and it could go hard right or it could go left, so it was really hard to call which way it would go. I didn’t get it right in the first but I did in the second.”
“The fleet here is very strong here are only a few guys missing, and people are fighting hard. It’s a high scoring regatta but I’ll keep on fighting.”
Cornish drops from third to fifth after a bad second race. “It was a day of two halves. To sum the week up in one word it’s been difficult. The breeze has been far from simple. The gains have come in from the sides, so you really have to make sure you are 100 per cent aware of what is going to happen next. And I definitely wasn’t aware in the last race, but you can’t get it right all the time I guess.”
Of his expectations he said, “A top 10 would be a realistic finish for me. I finished just outside that in New Zealand at the Gold Cup and I was bit disappointed with that as I threw a bit away on the last day. I just want to put together a series that will leave me in touch with the front of the fleet.”
Also added to the mix today was the penultimate day of the US Olympic selection trials. Zach Railey (USA) and Caleb Paine (USA) were neck and neck and locked together all through Race 5, but after the discard came into effect, Paine had a ten points lead. Then in Race 6, Railey got the perfect start at the pin and looked to have the advantage.
However a poor second beat from him and a great one from Paine left them only a few boats apart at the final top mark. Then Railey got a yellow flag and on the last run they started jousting and it looked like something was going to happen. Railey then introduced a mark trap on Paine and prevented him from rounding letting about 50 boats sail past. By dragging Paine back through the fleet, Railey had forced them to both count their discards. This moved Railey back into a 10 point lead over Paine.
They ended up in the protest room so results are still provisional.
Overall leader Postma was happy to be in the lead but also mulling over the missed opportunities to be even further ahead. “It was super tricky, and very hard racing but it’s going well. I am winning and my training partner Josh Junior is second, so I am very happy with that.”
On the final day he said, “In a 100 boat fleet you have a put in a good race again. You cannot play it safe. Of course I will keep an eye on which corner JJ [Junior] goes but there are other guys also in the hunt. I’ll just try for a great start and play the beat and I’m looking forward to it.”
The championships will draw to close on Saturday with the final fleet race for everyone, with the warning signal time brought forward to 09.30 hrs to make the best of the morning wind. When that has been sailed, the medal race for the top ten will be sailed as soon as possible.
The 2016 Finn European Championship last race (fleet race or medal race) will be broadcast live on Saturday 12th of March at youtube.com/watch?v=RDTnjvcib8w
Tomorrow (Saturday, 12th of March) the final race is scheduled at 09.30 hrs to make the most of the morning wind. After completion of the final race, the fleet will come back to shore. After protest time limit, the top 10 will race the Medal Race. No races will be started after 17.00 hrs.
Keep updated with announcements throughout the day with Twitter and Facebook.
Results after Day 5: (6 races, 1 discard)
1 NED 842 Pieter-Jan Postma 18pts
2 NZL 24 Josh Junior 28pts
3 CRO 69 Milan Vujasinovic 36pts
4 HUN 40 Zsombor Berecz 38pts
5 GBR 91 Ben Cornish 50pts
6 GRE 77 Ioannis Mitakis 54pts
7 SLO 573 Vasilij Zbogar 54pts
8 NOR 1 Anders Pedersen 64pts
9 BRA 109 Jorge Zarif 66pts
10 CRO 524 Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic 66pts
Full results at 2016.finneuropeans.org/en/default/races/race-resultsall
Josh Junior takes the lead – Photo © Robert Deaves
Finn European Championships at Barcelona, Spain
Ben Cornish (GBR) won the only race possible on the third day at the Open Finn Europeans in Barcelona, steeling the win from the race leader from the first mark, Jorge Zarif (BRA). With many of the leaders having a bad day, Zsombor Berecz (HUN) is up to second overall and Pieter-Jan Postma (NED) is up to third.
The forecasts for today were as varied as the flip of a coin, with a range of strengths and directions on the cards. It was also a bitterly cold day with a light rain soon after the fleet launched at 12.00 noon. The strength and direction of the wind caused problems starting a race and the one that did get away suffered from many shifts, the first one being pretty damaging to those at the boat end of the line.
Zarif led at the top from Cornish and Postma and looked to have the race sealed up, building a nice lead. There was no change at the gate or the second top mark, but on the final downwind, Zarif and Cornish split gybes and when they came back together the Brazilian’s lead had vanished.
Cornish said, “We had a really close battle. We split at the top and half way down we came back together and it was neck and neck all the way to the bottom. I just managed to push for the left hand side to get the overlap coming into the mark, which seemed to put me in the right place to get ahead.”
“It was a really hard day, with massive shifts coming off the shore and quite a lot of pin bias. The key was working out what would be best. As it turned out the pin bias put the people on the left ahead when the shift came back in and then it was a case of sailing the shifts up the middle of the course and trying to get in front of the people behind you.”
Second overall Berecz is one of the few consistent sailors so far this week. “I think it’s just self-discipline. I did not go after the others to win the race, holding on to fourth place across the line was enough for me.”
“I had a bad start, so I had to get myself out of there, but I then found a very good line, and I just kept my position from there sailed with the others.”
Junior reflected on his race, “It was a really tough race. Just after the start the breeze shifted left, probably about 20 degrees. Luckily I was down near the pin and managed to tack over get away. So I am pretty happy to get a fifth out of that because it was a day you could easily come away with a 40th or 50th, as some of the guys did. I may be in the lead for now, but we are only four races in, and another six to go before the medal race. We’ll see how it all stands then.”
Racing continues Thursday, but now the championship is two races behind schedule. One more race is needed to be able to get a discard and to sail the medal race. After many sailors have discarded today’s race result, the landscape could change significantly.
Results after Day 3: (after four races)
1 NZL 24, Josh Junior 20pts
2 HUN 40, Zsombor Berecz 29pts
3 NED 842, Pieter-Jan Postma 43pts
4 GBR 91, Ben Cornish 49pts
5 CRO 69, Milan Vujasinovic 51pts
6 BRA 109, Jorge Zarif 55pts
7 CAN 18, Tom Ramshaw 60pts
8 NOR 1, Anders Pedersen 65pts
9 GBR 11, Ed Wright 66pts
10 DEN 2, Jonas Høgh-Christensen 73pts
Full results at 2016.finneuropeans.org/en/default/races/race-resultsall
Photo © Nico Martinez / MartinezStudio
2016 52 Super Series season
There are still 15 weeks until the first start gun is fired off the Tuscan coast to open the 2016 52 Super Series but many of the top teams are ramping up their preparations imminently to ensure they are ready to unleash their optimum performance from Day 1, Race 1.
Two 52 Super Series teams enjoyed a great work out at Key West regatta in January where Doug DeVos steered Quantum Racing to a good win in IRC Class 1. After finishing second overall on the 2015 52 Super Series behind rivals Azzurra, who also won the 2015 World Championships, the winter has maybe felt a little longer and darker for the Quantum Racing crew, back to back winners of the 52 Super Series in 2013 and 2014.
Certainly there is probably no team suffused with more motivation and drive right now than Quantum Racing as they anticipate getting under starter’s orders when the circuit visits Scarlino for the first time May 25-29.
But when it comes to pre season preparation everyone on the circuit will acknowledge there is simply no substitute for time on the water, ideally racing. Five teams are reported to be set to work together in Valencia next week (March 14th to 19th) over an intensive period of testing, tuning and informal racing. Bronenosec (Vladimir Liubomirov, RUS), Alegre (Andres Soriano, UK), champions Azzurra (A & P Roemmers, ARG), Provezza (Ergin Imre, TUR) and Gladiator (Tony Langley, GBR) have taken up on the St Petersburg Yacht Club’s initiative to set up this training and race camp in Valencia.
Last year Gaastra Palma Vela, considered the best warm up regatta on the Med, proved Azzurra were firing on all cylinders, an early foresight of their 2016 title winning form. Winning the Palma warm up was of little real consequence for the Azzurra crew but it was a great validation that they were fast and their crew work was solid and cohesive. Following that precedent it is little wonder that no fewer than eight of the 11 teams which will race in Scarlino are checking in to the Gaastra Palma Vela (May 4-8) – Quantum Racing, Paprec (Jean Luc Petithugeunin FRA), Platoon (Harm Müller-Spreer GER), Provezza IX, Alegre (Andy Soriano, GBR), Sled (Takashi Okura, USA), Azzurra and Rán Racing (Niklas Zennström).
The overall level through the TP52 fleet on the 52 Super Series will rise even higher over this coming season. 2013 World Champions Rán Racing return to challenge for the overall title. After external commitments required owner-driver Niklas Zennström to miss three regattas last season, the team which won the 2015 curtain raiser in Valencia last year with their new Judel-Vroijk design are back for 2016 with Morgan Larson (USA) calling tactics supported by Adam Beashel (AUS).
Also back for a full on participation in 2016 will be Terry Hutchinson (USA). The twice 52 Super Series winning tactician returns to the hot seat, calling the shots on Quantum Racing. Owner-driver Doug DeVos (USA) will steer three regattas this season and miss two. Ed Baird (USA) will steer these and revert to the strategist role when DeVos is helming.
“We go into 2016 aiming to, and expecting to win.” Says Quantum Racing’s team manager Ed Reynolds, “When we win it feels like a relief and so, personally, it felt pretty horrible not to win last year. But we have such a great group of guys that there was no complaints at all at the end of the season, nobody made excuses. And we could so easily have been fourth. So we are all incredibly motivated and ready to get back on the race course and do our very best work.”
Quantum Racing will partner Platoon which has switched to Quantum Sails. They will share the input of coach James Lyne and all performance data leading up to and after regattas while Spain’s legendary Olympic gold medallist Jordi Calafat moves from a supporting role with Quantum Racing to sail as strategist on Platoon.
Double Olympic medal winning, Volvo Ocean Race winning skipper Ian Walker (GBR) returns to the highly charged world of grand prix inshore racing as tactician on Tony Langley’s Gladiator. Walker is no stranger to the TP52, previously skippering the successful Patches, but the circuit has evolved considerably since then. Walker reaffirms his role is that of tactician, the decision maker on the water, but undoubtedly his considerable Volvo Race and Olympic experience, plus his natural competitiveness will see him as a stabilising and motivating influence on the British flagged team.
“My role is tactician. And for me the initial challenge is just going to be getting back into the fast moving world of inshore racing after so long on the Volvo where you obviously have much more time to think. Getting back to very fast, accurate decision making will be the first thing for me, but kind of inevitably the tactician is often the one who leads the briefings and debriefs and sets the tone. I am the tactician and the boat is very well managed by Tom Wilson. We will see how we do. A winning team is a happy team and vice versa and so I just want us to start off on the right foot.” Walker comments.
The overall fleet size for 2016 has held up well. Between 10 and 13 boats are expected to compete at the five regattas which comprise this season. Battle lines are drawn in late May but the pressure is on until the circuit concludes in October in Cascais where the 2016 champions will be crowned.
52 SS Scarlino Cup – Scarlino, YCS, May 25 – 29
Settimana delle Bocche – Porto Cervo, YCCS, June 28 – July 2
52 SS Portals Sailing Week – Puerto Portals, CRPP, July 25 – 29
TP52 World Championship – Mahon, CMM, September 14 – 18
52 SS Cascais Cup – Cascais, CNC, October 11 – 15
Photos © Robert Deaves
Finn European Championships at Barcelona, Spain
Milan Vujasinovic (CRO) capitalised on his first day victory at the Finn European Championship today with two great races to extend his lead to eight points after two more races. Josh Junior (NZL) is up to second with Zsombor Berecz (HUN) in third. Race wins went to Pieter-Jan Postma (NED) and Junior in what turned out to be a windier day than expected.
The day started with another delay to wait for the wind, but when it started filing in it kept building to 13-15 knots during the day for some great, if shifty, racing in the waters off Barcelona, which combined with a huge swell, made for an interesting day.
Postma stole the first race after moving into the lead on the last wave before the final mark. Filippo Baldassari (ITA) had led the entire race, rounding the top mark from Henry Sprague (USA) and Tom Ramshaw (CAN). On his bottom mark move Postma said, “There’s always a plan. Filippo was on the right and Caleb [Paine (USA)] was on the left so I pushed Filippo a little bit up and he was gone and then I made a move to go to the left of Caleb, so he gybed, and then I caught a wave and I passed. It was nice, very satisfying.”
“It was a good racing. I was very happy with the starts, but still you have to be really open. Everything can happen here. It is tight racing and it’s shifty. Sometimes it was shifting 20-30 degrees and there’s win, lose, win, lose going on all the time.”
The second race was owned by Junior whose exceptional offwind speed in these conditions gave him the lead on the first downwind. “It was a really epic day and nice to win one. I just had a good start, sailed up the middle of the course, rounded the top mark in the top 10 and I was going really quick downwind so managed to get up to first and held on from there.”
“Today ended up being an awesome sailing breeze. We had 12 to 14 knots and the waves got up really big and choppy so it was fun downwind.”
Vujasinovic had led round the top mark from Paine, but got passed downwind, while Paine capsized in the increasingly challenging conditions. Zach Railey (USA) was second at the gate behind Junior, but ended up third after gioing wide down the final run and letting Vujasinovic through for second.
Paine and Railey are engrossed in their final Olympic selection trials here. Paine had the better day to claw back some advantage after a disastrous day on Monday. “I had a much better day. In the first race I had a nice little lefty but on the downwind I messed up the gybe with PJ, but second place is still good.”
In contrast, Junior added, “This isn’t one of our selection regattas, but I think every regatta counts, as if you can do well at regattas it looks good. Hyeres is our final selection and after that they make a decision. I wasn’t happy with the Gold Cup, so hopefully I can improve here and get a top 10 or a little bit better. I think tomorrow it’s going to go offshore so could be a completely different day.”
Results after Day 2: (3 races)
1 CRO 69 Milan Vujasinovic 7pts
2 NZL 24 Josh Junior 15pts
3 HUN 40 Zsombor Berecz 25pts
4 NOR 1 Anders Pedersen 36pts
5 NED 842 Pieter-Jan Postma 40pts
6 CRO 524 Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic 42pts
7 GBR 11 Ed Wright 42pts
8 SLO 573 Vasilij Zbogar 43pts
9 USA 4 Zach Railey 46pts
10 DEN 2 Jonas Høgh-Christensen 48pts
Full results at 2016.finneuropeans.org/en/default/races/race-resultsall
Photos © Robert Deaves
Finn European Championships at Barcelona, Spain
Milan Vujasinovic (CRO) is the early leader at the Finn Europeans after wining the opening race in tricky light winds in Barcelona. The 2012 European Champion Ioannis Mitakis (GRE) is second and the 2012 Olympic Silver Medalist Jonas Høgh-Christensen (DEN) is in third. The second race was abandoned at the top mark as the wind began to shut down for the day.
The morning weather briefing proved to be largely correct when it suggested that an onshore breeze could develop late morning and then disappear towards evening. The fleet were held on shore under AP for an while before being let out of the harbour.
After one general recall the fleet got going with one boat pulled out under the black flag. Fittingly it was defending European Champion Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic (CRO) who led round the top mark from Mitakis and Deniss Karpak (EST). However his lead didn’t last long. Mikakis explained, “I had a good start and played the left side of the fleet and passed the first mark in second. I made a good move on the downwind so I was first at the gate.”
It all changed on the second upwind with Vujasinovic taking the lead. Mitakis continued “The wind went light and it was tricky for me, and for everyone else, on the second upwind. On the last downwind I had a really good fight with Jonas and Zombi [Zsombor Berecz (HUN)] but I managed to finished second so it was a really good start to the Europeans.”
The second race also started after one general recall under black flag but it didn’t get further than the top mark. Caleb Paine (USA) led into the mark from Karpak and Zach Raley (USA) but before they could get there the race was abandoned as the wind had fallen consistently under five knots. With time and light running out the fleet was sent home.
Second placed Høgh-Christensen said, “It’s a good start to the regatta and I am very happy to come away with third. It was very close race between the top four guys and we were battling it out right to the finish line and it’s always good when you can do that after 75 minutes of racing.”
Race winner and leader after the first day, Vujasinovic said, “It was a very shifty and light wind. I had a good start and was consistently in the top and focussed on sailing and I think in the end consistency and patience paid. I just focussed on the small things, technique, keeping calm and adjusting to the conditions on the water.”
In a change to the Croatian Olympic selection he said, “Our selection will now just be on the Worlds between me and Kljakovic Gaspic so this is just a training regatta for us. At the Worlds I will do the best I can and then we will see.”
The Junior World Champion Ondrej Teply (CZE) is leading the Junior Europeans from Facundo Olezza (ARG) and defending Junior European Champion Arkadiy Kistanov (RUS).
Racing continues Tuesday with forecasts of more light winds to come.
Results after Day 1:
1 CRO 69, Milan Vujasinovic 1pt
2 GRE 77, Ioannis Mitakis 2pts
3 DEN 2, Jonas Høgh-Christensen 3pts
4 HUN 40, Zsombor Berecz 4pts
5 EST 2, Deniss Karpak 5pts
6 CRO 52, Nenad Bugarin 6pts
7 ESP 17, Pablo Guitian Sarria 7pts
8 NZL 24, Josh Junior 8pts
9 CZE 5, Ondrej Teply 9pts
10 CAN 18, Tom Ramshaw 10pts
Full results at 2016.finneuropeans.org/en/default/races/race-resultsall
Allan Julie setting the bar high to qualify for Rio Olympics
With four Olympic Games already under his belt, you would think Allan Julie from Seychelles would want to sit back and reflex, but that is not the case. With just two weeks to go before the final selection regatta for the Rio 2016 Olympics, he has taken up a new challenge – top level Finn sailing.
Ahead of the African qualification at the Princesa Sofia Regatta in Palma at the end of March he is competing at the Finn European Championships this week in Barcelona to get familiar with the boat.
“I only started sailing the Finn about two weeks ago, so maybe I have sailed about 10 times so far. My goal is to learn the boat as much as possible in this short time and hopefully qualify to go to Rio.”
He did a week of intensive training in France recently. “In the first week I was training with Finn coach Paul McKenzie. I really learned a lot because I didn’t know anything about the Finn.”
“I really like the boat, so we will see if I qualify. Depending on if I qualify and then how I go at the Games and I will then think about Tokyo.” Coming from the Laser, in which he sailed the last four Olympics, “The Finn feels like a more stable boat and it feels like a real boat. I like it. I think it’s probably better for people more like my weight.” Allan is 93 kg and in the lower weight range for Finn sailing.
He described his first day in the 90 boat fleet in Barcelona. “In the first race I was not really racing so much. I was more or less doing what other people were doing. I was not tacking on the shifts, but I had a good first upwind and then I lost a bit on the second upwind.”
“In the second race before they abandoned I was in a very good position. I probably would have rounded top 20, so would have been very happy with that.”
He is receiving help this week from one of the best sailors in the class. “This week I am travelling with Vasilij Zbogar from Slovenia and they also provided me with a boat and all the equipment and I would like to say a big thanks to them.”
“And they are also helping me a lot during his regatta, giving me a lot of tips.”
By Robert Deaves – International Finn Class
Photos © Ian Roman / World Match Racing Tour
World Match Racing Tour in Fremantle – Overall
Reigning World Champion Ian Williams swept aside Hans Wallén 3-0 to win the final of the World Match Racing Tour Fremantle, the opening event of the 2016 World Match Racing Tour season.
Even though the GAC Pindar skipper has won a record six world titles on the Tour in the days of slow keelboats, the level of his domination in high-speed M32 catamarans took even the British skipper by surprise.
Williams was keen to put the praise on his three hard-working crew mates, the engine room of GAC Pindar – Mark Bulkeley, Garth Ellingham and Brad Farrand.
“There’s always a lot of focus on the skipper, but this really is a team sport. It’s pretty obvious which way to point a fast boat like an M32 so my job is relatively easy, it’s what the guys do in front of me that really counts.”
On Monday morning, the wind was gusting unpredictably off Bather’s Beach for the Semi Finals. Denmark’s Nicolai Sehested was expected to give Williams a tough battle having been the class act of the previous day’s high-wind racing. At the start of the first match Sehested was penalised for starting too early by the umpires.
“Actually both Williams and ourselves were over but the message didn’t get through correctly from the race committee to the umpires,” said a frustrated but philosophical Sehested. “We shouldn’t have been penalised but we were and that was the race gone right there.” Sehested appealed the call but to no avail.
The start of match two, and moments after the start Williams’ gennaker unfurled too soon – the result of a bad furl during an aggressive pre-start between the teams. Sehested surged into a seemingly unassailable lead until his gennaker started unfurling on the first beat – again the result of operator error at the leeward gate. Match two, and match point to Williams.
Finally in match three Sehested got his groove on, surging away to a good lead until – disaster – he capsized at the leeward turning mark. “I did a normal turn but I hadn’t noticed that our boards weren’t in their correct position,” said Sehested.
“The leeward one was up and the windward one was down, and the lift from the windward board tipped us in. Frustrating, but that’s sailing. We gave Ian two of those races on a plate. But overall we’re pleased with how we sailed this week. A new team, we’re fast, and we’ll come back strong for the next event.”
So Williams was through to the Final 3-0. There was a good battle on the other side of the Semi Final draw, although Hans Wallén’s experience in the M32 catamaran proved too much for Yann Guichard who lost 3-0 to the Swedish crew.
In the Petit Final, the race for 3rd overall, Guichard beat Sehested 2-1.
For the Final later on in the afternoon, when the breeze had turned to an offshore moderate wind, Williams looked more in control during the pre-start maneuvering and generally got the better of Wallén from early on in each match. The exception was match three when an unforced error by Williams during the pre-start entry resulted in penalty on the British team. However the Swedish advantaged proved short-lived as Williams found a different path down the first run and surged into a lead that he would extend all the way to the finish.
With 20 international teams from all kinds of grand prix sailing backgrounds, it wasn’t meant to be like this. Williams was expected to be there or thereabouts, but not to dominate quite like he did. Going back two days to the start of the match racing phase of the competition, Williams lost his opening match to the young Sam Gilmour, son of Williams’ past nemesis – the legendary Peter Gilmour. But that would prove to be the only loss in 13 matches on the way to the Briton lifting the trophy.
Asked why he had been so dominant, Williams offered this: “If there’s one thing that I think I’ve always been good at throughout my career, something I’ve been very focused on, is looking at ways of improving different parts of what we do, always trying to learn and move things on.” With that in mind, and this being the first time we’ve seen M32s being raced on the World Match Racing Tour, Williams was also asked how his team of day one in Fremantle, just five days ago, would have performed in the Final. “No chance. You can see how much the quality of the sailing and the racing has moved on with each day here. We’re so much better than we were, and of course we’re going to need to keep on improving throughout this year. We can’t afford to stand still.”
Wallén probably wasn’t expected to make the Final, but the Olympic silver medallist was rightly proud to have done so. “We are happy, only frustrated that we couldn’t give Ian more of a fight. In these moderate conditions and stable wind direction there were very few passing lanes,” said the Swede.
Williams raised the trophy aloft and accepted a winner’s cheque for USD 33,000, his team’s share of a USD 200,000 prize purse. Now the game moves on to three other international venues before the big finale this July, the World Championship Finals in Marstrand, Sweden. The winner’s prize is USD 1million, so the teams will be practicing hard over the next four months to close the gap to the new standard set by Williams this week in sunny, sensational Fremantle.
WMRT Fremantle 2016 Results:
1. Ian Williams (GBR) GAC Pindar $US 33,000
2. Hans Wallén (SWE) Walleén Racing $US 23,000
3. Yann Guichard (FRA) Spindrift Racing $US 18,000
4. Nicolai Sehested (DEN) Trefor Match Racing $US 18,000
5. Matt Jerwood (AUS) Redline Racing $US 12,000
6. Murray Jones (AUS) Full Bants Racing $US 12,000
7. Taylor Canfield (ISV) US One $US 12,000
8. Mattias Rahm (SWE) Rahm Racing $US 12,000
9. Phil Robertson (NZL) Waka Racing $US 5,000
10. Evan Walker (AUS) KA Match/ CYCA $US 5,000
11. Steven Thomas (AUS) Royal Perth YC $US 5,000
12. Keith Swinton (AUS) Black Swan Racing $US 5,000
13. Eric Monnin (SUI) Albert Riele Swiss Team $US 5,000
14. Sam Gilmour (AUS) Neptune Racing $US 5,000
15. Chris Steele (NZL) 36 Below Racing $US 5,000
16. Nicklas Dackhammar (SWE) Dackhammer Racing $US 5,000
17. Sally Barkow (USA) Team Magenta 32 $US 5,000
18. Brett Burvill (AUS) Edge Racing Team NYC $US 5,000
19. Joachim Aschenbrenner (DEN) Royal Danish YC $US 5,000
20. Mark Whittington (AUS) South of Perth YC $US 5,000
For full leaderboard visit wmrt.com
Photo © Ian Roman / World Match Racing Tour
World Match Racing Tour in Fremantle – Quarter Finals
Nicolai Sehested cast aside any idea that Taylor Canfield and US One were the event favourites, ruthlessly dispatching the American team 3-1 in their Quarter Final match.
The young Dane was tearing around the track in the M32 multihull this week. To look at his crew’s devil-may-care attitude to throwing the boat around, you would never know the Viking raider was racing this challenging boat for the first time this week, with a team that have never sailed together before. Canfield on the other hand has been racing the M32 for more than a year but couldn’t match Sehested off the high-speed reaching starts, nor could the 2013 World Champion catch the great Dane around the race course.
“You make some small mistakes and you pay big for them,” shrugged an unusually downbeat Canfield at the evening press conference.
“Once they were ahead they were uncatchable. We made a couple of mistakes in the pre-start, down to bad communication on my part, and we couldn’t catch up after that.”
Sehested looks fast and loose downwind, ready to let the M32 rip at all times, even when the Fremantle Doctor – the strong local afternoon breeze – is pumping hard. He didn’t deny it. “I don’t think we hold back, we keep pushing, it’s the only way to learn how to sail these boats,” he said. “I’m just trying to keep up with the crew, I don’t want to be the one that lets them down by holding back.”
The simplest Quarter Final victory went to Great Britain’s Ian Williams who despatched Sweden’s Mattias Rahm 3-0 in a superior performance by the GAC Pindar crew. As the reigning and six-time World Champion, Williams was the undoubted master of the slow keelboats, but he’s proving to be a fast learner in the multihulls.
“The fleet is improving so fast that if we’re only as good as today, we probably won’t be good enough tomorrow,” said Williams, who faces Sehested in the Semi-Finals. “Nicolai is very dangerous, his team beat us in Poland last year. We’ll take on board the lessons from today and see what we can do.” The historical statistics are etched in Sehested’s memory too. He hasn’t lost to Williams in the past 12 months, even if those matches were in keelboats, nothing like the M32.
Two young Australians, Matt Jerwood and Murray Jones, put up a good fight against some older, more experienced multihull racers. Local Perth sailor Jerwood took two matches off Olympic silver medallist Hans Wallén before the Swede hit his stride to go through to the Semi-Finals. The ever upbeat Jerwood would love to come back for more.
“It’s been great to have the event here in Fremantle. There’s so much sailing history here with Australia II in the museum, it was the first place that saw a foiling Moth sailing, people here really embrace sailing. I’ve never had so many people come up to shake my hand, to congratulate us. Can’t wait to do some more M32 stuff this year.”
Jones gave Yann Guichard a few scares, especially when the Frenchman made an unforced error during one pre-start.
“We were going really fast downwind, and I tried to gybe on the foil. We capsized, but no damage, everyone was OK on board. Five minutes later we’re back upright and ready again. I’ve never seen this before on this size of boat. Normally you break something when you capsize, but not today.”
Although Jones won that race by default, Guichard quickly reverted to business as usual. Even though he has next to no experience in the M32, his deep background in racing all kinds of multihulls – from Olympic Tornados to the giant 40m, round-the-world Spindrift 2 – equips Guichard with a natural feel for what makes the M32 tick. Even against the wily Wallén, he’ll be fast and dangerous.
Results after Day 5 – through to the Semi Finals:
Ian Williams (GBR) v Nicolai Sehested (DEN)
Hans Wallén (SWE) v Yann Guichard (FRA)
Results in Quarter Finals:
Nicolai Sehested (DEN) beat Taylor Canfield (ISV) 3-1
Yann Guichard (FRA) beat Murray Jones (AUS) 2-1
Hans Wallén (SWE) beat Matt Jerwood (AUS) 2.5-1.5
Ian Williams (GBR) beat Mattias Rahm (SWE) 3-0