Windy start to SSAB ORC Eureopean Championship 2019
15 August 2019
clear windy conditions today on the Baltic Sea produced extremely
close racing and a suitably exciting start to the SSAB ORC European
Championship 2019. Two windward-leeward races were held in 17-22
knot puffy and shifty conditions, with race managers hitting their
target of about 1 hour duration for each race.
The 1+ hour commute from the harbor to the course area had teams leaving the marina early this morning to meet the first start time at 10:00. Maybe the coffee had not kicked in yet, because both Classes A and B as well as Class C started without general recalls and any need for the Black flag to control the fleet.
This does not mean, however, there was no aggression on the water in both of today's two-lap 6.2-mile races: in fact, in the first race the reigning Class C World Champion team on OU Leitvaagen's Italia 9.98 Sugar helmed by Sandro Montefusco, tangled with another mixed Estonian-Italian team, Aivar Tuulberg's Arcona 340 Katariina II, the reigning ORC European Class C champion.
In their first port-starboard cross in the first leg of the first race, Sugar's cross on port by 1.5 meters was judged too close by the jury in a protest, so Sugar was given a DSQ for this race. This decision then handed the series lead on scores of 1-1 to Kodutarve OU's new J/112E Matilda 4, also from Estonia. And yet another Estonian team, OU Laanekas's CYD 37 Postimees Sailing Team, has also elevated in the standings to second on scores of 3-4, and Katariina in third with 2-6. Teams from Estonia currently occupy four of the five top positions in the series in Class C.
Class B's 25 entries raced two two-lap 6.5-mile courses today, sharing with the eight entries in Class A. Axel Seehafer's X-41 Sportsfreund from Germany had a good day, winning both races in the class. The first was won by only 13 seconds after an hour of sailing to Michael Berghorn's X-41 Halbtrocken 4.0 and Jens Kuphal's modified Landmark 43 Intermezzo also from Germany - the two were tied to within a second in corrected time. In Race 2, however, Sportsfreund was able to break free of the pack and expand their margin of victory to 1:34 over runner-up Halbtrocken. In series standings after two races, Sportsfreund has only 2.0 points, Halbtrocken 4.5 and the modified X-41 Olympic skippered by Tiit Vihul from Estonia is in third on 8.0 points.
Erik Berth's Swan 45 Tarok VII from Denmark and One Sailing Finland's TP 52 Zer0emission traded victories today in Class A, with Tarok prevailing in Race 1 by a mere 3 seconds after 1.5 hours raced on the 3-lap 9.6-mile course. In Race 2 the Finns won by 37 seconds on the same course, so overall standings have them leading on 2-1, the Danes in second on 1-2, and Karalow Witold's Soto 40 Scamp Twenty Seven from Poland in third on 6-3.
Today's racing ended with an optional and promotional Sprint Race held in the early evening for the 1000 or so spectators lining the shore of Oxelosund Harbor. The site of dozens of boats in both pre-start maneuvers and taking off under spinnaker out the ship channel was a spectacular site for all. After a light air start, the fleet sped off under reaching sails, led by Mats Bergryd's Shogun 50 Lady Killer outfitted with specialty reaching headsails on furlers that were perfect for this very short twilight race. This new custom Swedish racer/cruiser won the short race by 49 seconds, and has earned a new AIS system provided by event sponsor True Heading.
Racing resumes tomorrow at 10:00 CET with the start of the Offshore Race designed for a 12-hour tour of the Baltic along the southeastern coast of Sweden. Class A has a 79-mile race to complete, Class B a 68.2-mile course, and Class C a course of 60.6 miles. Weather is forecasted to be favorable, with a continuation of the southwest breeze at 10-20 knots.
Photo: Felix Diemer