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Leaders stay on top

28 July 2017

The rain stopped today (mostly) but fluky weather yielded only one race on the penultimate day of inshore racing, with podium positions not yet assured.

Bright sunlight emerged from the clouds early this morning in the penultimate day of racing in the Dr Irena Eris ORC European Championship Gdansk 2017. Like moles, the crews in the fleet of 82 boats squinted and blinked, emerged from their boats and dragged out their soggy sails and clothes to dry out before the resumption of racing on Pantaenius Yacht Insurance Day.

The scheduled start times on the two course areas of 11:30 AM had to wait, however, as the unsettled weather in the region left the Gulf of Gdansk windless for a few hours until a northerly filled in at sailable but irregular 7-12 knots, allowing just enough time to complete one more inshore race in the program.

In this one race the leaders in each class had reasonable, but not spectacular, results, still good enough to keep them on top in the standings going into tomorrow’s final showdowns for the Gold, Silver and Bronze medals.

The series leader in Class A, Tea Ekengren-Suaren’s Swan 45 Blue Nights from Finland, did well to score second in a tough race that had skipper Kirsten Harmstorf-Schonwitz’s DK 46 Tutima winning and getting elevated into third in the standings. This is a great result for the all-girls team from Hamburg who are sentimental favorites here in Gdansk and at all the major races and regattas throughout the Baltic region where they have been seen to compete for years in their distinctive pink crew gear. A respectable 5th place earned by Erik Berth’s Swan 45 Tarok VII has kept them solidly in second, 4 points behind the leading Finns and 20 points ahead of the girls.

In Class B which looked so competitive among the numerous X-41’s competing in this class, Martin Eslander’s Xini Freedom is making it look easy by winning another race today, thereby extending their lead over the Estonians on Premium by another point. The hard fight tomorrow in this class may be for the Bronze medal position, since Peter Buhl’s Swan 42 Sirena has crept up into the top ranks among the X-41’s, and is tied now with Thomas Jungblut’s Dockenhuden. Jaak Jogi’s X-41 Forte from Estonia was also a strong contender, especially when their 13th place in Race 1 would be discarded after the completion of Race 5 tomorrow. However a DNF today due to a fouled anchor line to a mark has torpedoed their chances to get to the podium tomorrow…unless they are able to convince the Jury tonight in their redress request.

In Class C the Stockholm-based team on Patrik Forsgren’s modified First 36.7 Pro4U had their first mediocre result of the series, earning an 8th place in today’s race while Eero Pank’s Salona 38 Reval Café and a handful of others benefited from having a bad start, bailing out to the right side of the course in search of clear air, and then finding favorable pressure no one else had to help vault them into the lead.

The results in this race are being challenged, however, by a podium contender who has been doing well thusfar but had a mediocre result in this race too. Aivar Tuulberg’s reigning European Champion team on his Arcona 340 Katariina II from Estonia had a solid grip on second place but is now in third by one point behind Marcus Shierman’s Italia 9.98 Immac Fram, having scored a 10th place in today’s race.

Tactician Nicolo Bianchi from Trieste, Italy has been a regular part of the Katariina team since they won their title in Porto Carras, Greece last year, and explains why the results may not be correct.

“At the end of the first upwind leg we knew it was favored to round the top mark, then gybe, because the wind shifted to the right,” he said. “We were able to lay the leeward gate without gybing, and then the course was changed for the next leg [due to this shift]. We just want to have the Race Committee examine this in the scoring, because it makes a difference in the ratings between the boats and it would make the results more accurate.”

This issue is in the Performance Curve Scoring concept, where each leg of the course can be modeled with a wind direction so that if there is a shift off the normal windward/leeward course axis, the ratings can adjust accordingly so long as this shift is recorded. The matter is now under review, but may result in a slight improvement in Katariina’s score for this race.

“This is a very important and valuable feature for ORC,” says Bianchi, “because it makes the results very accurate and in many cases very close. This is why we are pursuing this inquiry about the scores.”

Another important feature to ORC championship integrity is the accuracy of certificates and ratings, so the top 3 boats in the day’s racing are typically put through measurement controls of crew weight, sail dimensions, required safety equipment and boat measurements. If any discrepancies are discovered, the Measurement Committee may protest the boat, which is then subject to a scoring penalty that will vary depending on the size and nature of the difference.

Today Xini Freedom’s freeboards were checked and found to be a few millimeters higher than their certificate figures, with a calculated difference in displacement of 102 kg lighter. While this may not be much for a boat this size, it does affect the boat’s rating by a tiny amount (0.19% in this case), yet due to how close the scores are in this class (for eg, Xini defeated Forte for second place in Race 2 by only 2 seconds), this may in turn trigger a difference in results. This matter will also be discussed tonight in a hearing.

So, while the leaders remain in their top positions (for now) going into tomorrow’s final races, the standings may change in the morning if any penalties are applied or redress requests granted, as well as after discards apply after the first race tomorrow is completed. This will quite likely make tomorrow’s second and final race of the championship the determining factor for each podium position awarded in the event’s three classes.

By Dobbs Davis