Big breeze in day four of D-Marin ORC World Championship

 

7 June 2019

   
  As teams left the picturesque and protected harbor in Sibenik this morning, the fourth day of the 2019 D-Marin ORC World Championship looked like every other this week on this lovely Dalmatian coast: sunny, warm, slight breeze from the south just starting to rustle leaves on the olive trees. The forecast models seemed wrong, as the pressure at 0930 was 7 knots, 8 knots below the forecast trends, and it was hard to believe this was going to be a big breeze day.

Then getting outside the cut to the open Adriatic, reality confronted everyone: the building seas were steepening to over a meter as the breeze built into the high teens. On course area Alpha the race managers struggled with an errant starting pin mark that refused to stay put in the big seas and 50 meters depth, causing massive delays in getting races started in Classes A and C. Competitors were kept abreast of the situation by radio, and many took cover in the lee of a nearby islet rather than get soaked reaching back and forth at high speed while waiting.

In the end only one race could be started and completed before the breeze built to a steady 23 knots with gusts to 27 knots, and with plenty of carnage on the course the race managers called it a day. In this one race, the cream rose again to the top, with the polished team on Marco Sarafino's TP 52 XIO putting another bullet on the scoreboard in the 10.3-mile race, this time with a new runner-up close behind: Sandro Paniccia's Scuderia 50 Altair 3 by only 29 seconds. XIO's string of bullets on her scorecard is marred only by her second place finish in the series first long offshore race, once that cannot be discarded.

The Bravo course area had plenty of breeze and waves, but maybe not quite as extreme, with race managers completed two races with the intent for a third. High gusts in the mid-20's and the concurrent travails on Course area Alpha convinced race managers to quit while ahead and send the fleet in before bad luck might overcome them too.

Andrea Rossi's Swan 42 team on Mela continued to demonstrate their European one-design class Champion mastery with yet another two victories scored. This may seem easy, but its not, as the margins are extremely thin: in today's first race over class rival and runner-up Digital Bravo owned by Alberto Franchi, victory was by 4 seconds, with Massimo De Campo's Selene-Alifax only another 8 seconds back. The next two finishers, Pierluigi Bresciani's modified Arya 415 Pazza Ida and Nicola de Gemmis's GS 39 Morgan IV, were only another 30 seconds back so that the top five were all within 43 seconds in corrected time after an hour and 10 minutes of racing: this is competitive handicap racing at its best.

Even with brisk conditions, the series has tightened in Class B, where the top three boats are separated by only 4 points, led by Swan 42 Selene - photo JK Val With the breeze and seas building even more in Race 5, the Swans once again dominated the top of the class, this time once again finishing in order of Mela, Digital Bravo and Selene. Its no wonder with such close competitive sailing that skirmishes would be inevitable, and a protest was being heard between Mela and Digital Bravo with Selene as a witness in Race 5, with the jury dismissing the claim. This also as significance because with the completion of Race 5 this class has completed all the minimum requirements needed for an ORC World Championship, with or without additional racing and potential discards in the scores.

Meanwhile back on the Alpha course area the conditions were more challenging for the smaller 35-40-footers in Class C, with numerous incidents of broaching and breakage to keep the sail repair and rigging teams busy tonight. Rising above the fray were the seasoned teams at the top of the leaderboard who enjoyed some close racing. Aivar Tuulberg's custom Cossutti design Katariina II, the reigning ORC European Champion from Estonia, finally found the winner's circle in this race but only by 33 seconds over the Czech team on Zdenek Jakoubek's red-orange M37 Hebe V, the current series leader. Ott Kikkas's Italia 11.98 Sugar 3 earned third in the race to stay in contention for the lead because if another inshore race is held and se does well, she will drop her 7th place from the first race yesterday and vault back to the top of the leaderboard.

Yet this will not happen tomorrow: race managers are planning to go forward with a 50-mile coastal race, even though the forecast is for very light air. Like Monday's 114-mile long offshore course, this course will be an island tour where the race can be shortened to stay within reasonable time limits if needed. First start time is planned for 11:00.
 
   
 

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