Very light winds with patchy cloud coverage made for tough conditions on the third day of the Star Sailor’s League Breeze Grand Slam and European Championships in Riva del Garda, Italy, which saw many top teams suffer a big score.
The Race Committee briefly tried for a second race today, but with the wind slowly dropping from around 10 knots at the start of the only race, to 4 knots at the finish it was quickly called off and the fleet returned to the dock on glassy waters. Mateusz Kusznierewicz (POL) and Frederico Melo (POR) made up for their bad fortune yesterday, when they broke their mast, to take the win in today’s only race. But it will be one that many will wish to forget.
Kusznierewicz and Melo were delighted with their victory. This new pairing has been strong all week and despite their rig breakage yesterday, they started the day in third position, tied on points with second placed, Diego Negri (ITA) and Frithjof Kleen (GER). “It was especially stressful because we started at the [committee] boat end, but the pin was really favoured,” Kusznierewicz explained. “I’m not sure if I should really say this, but the plan was not to start at that end. We had gone a long way upwind [after a general recall] and by the time we were back at the startline there was not the time to get down to the pin. I said to Federico ‘just don’t look up’ because it looked pretty bad early on. But we did a good job of controlling and getting some gains on the right.” The pairing is now solidly up to second overall with Negri and Kleen third.
After a general recall, the Race officer elected to fly the U flag on the second attempt to get the start away, but many were still early on the heavily port-biased line, with fully seven boats picking up a UFD for being over at the start. Many of those caught were top names, including series leaders Robert Scheidt (BRA) and Henry Boening (BRA). Scheidt was sanguine about their misfortune, perhaps reflecting the impressive series he has put together so far, leaving him top of the leaderboard after he discards today. “It’s really tricky with this kind of line. We were in the middle with a bunch of boats and they sheeted in and went. If you don’t go with them then for sure you will have a bad race,” he reflected.
“It was such a difficult race and it was very easy to pick up a big score. I’m happy they didn’t try to do another race in this weather, but now we have a big drop too and so the regatta is really open.”
Also scoring a UFD were: George Szabo (USA); Eric Doyle (USA); Guido Gallinaro (ITA); Hubert Merkelbach (GER); Tibor Tenke (HUN); and Davide Leardini (ITA).
Even those who escaped the flag suffered, including another finish outside the top 20 for Paul Cayard (USA) and Arthur Lopez (BRA) whose 28th today sees them drop to sixth overall.
While the first two days had been dominated by strong breezes and a one-way track, the single race today saw some big holes and it was a case of staying calm and managing risk.
While many of the top names had a bad day, it was a moment to shine for some of the less well-known sailors competing alongside the legends at this first combined SSL Grand Slam Breeze and European Championship. The strength-in-depth in this fleet is impressive, so perhaps it was not a surprise to see Austrian lake sailors, Florian Raudaschl (AUT) and Michael Fischer (AUT) leading the fleet by a decent margin at the end of the first lap, reveling on the more familiar conditions.
They were certainly looking stronger today having picked up a 67, 35, 27, 40, DNC in the breezier weather to date. However, a single mistake, overstanding the final windward mark, saw them slip back and finish fourth – they will almost certainly be a happy team tonight, though and may well move up the rankings.
The forecast is for cloudy, unstable conditions again tomorrow for the penultimate day of racing, but the waterfront in Riva will be brightened by the presence of a Fine Art Sails display, the painted Star sails parading along the waterfront. The charity raises money for the Andrew Simpsons Foundation, set up after the tragic loss of Star sailor, Andrew ‘Bart’ Simpson during training for the 2013 America’s Cup.
Focus on / Sailors / Regattas
11 May 2019
European Championship / SSL Breeze Grand Slam
Category: SSL 2500