Inshore racing started today in light and shifty conditions…with more rain…as leaderboards dominated by Finns and Swedes at the top of three classes.
The rain that drenched everyone yesterday in the opening act of the Dr Irena Eris ORC European Championship Gdansk 2017 continued again today, and with just enough wind to yield two completed North Sails inshore races to add to the event’s scoreboards.
Among the 13 teams from 5 nations in Class A, two teams are rising to the top of the standings after two races today. Tea Ekengren-Suaren’s Swan 45 Blue Nights from Finland did well today, scoring 2nd by only 35 seconds after 1.25 hours of racing in the first 7.05-mile two-lap windward-leeward race, and winning the 6.7-mile course of the same type in the second race today by nearly a minute over yesterday’s race winner, Erik Berth’s sistership Tarok VII from Denmark. Blue Nights is thus now in the lead with 5 points over Tarok VII on 6 points, with Axel Seehafer’s Soto 40 Sportsfreund in third on 12 points.
“We have been sailing fairly conservatively, not taking many big risks and focusing instead on boatspeed,” says Patrik Linqvist, navigator on Blue Nights. “This has been working well for us so far because the competition is very tough. This is the largest ORC Europeans regatta ever, and you can see the caliber of the boats and the number of pro sailors is quite high here, everyone is taking this quite seriously.”
For their own preparation on Blue Nights Linqvist said they have “a core crew that has raced together for years, but for this year we have upgraded the crew with imported talent to strengthen the team. We trained in May, raced in the Finnish National Championship together, then again last week at the Polish Open Championship, so we have put many days in together to prepare for this week.”
Linqvist is also on the ORC Management Committee, and thus has an overall perspective on the performance of the system, and thinks it is working very well here. “The top five boats are very different in size and type, yet when all are well-sailed the differences come down to very little in corrected time, only two minutes after well over an hour of racing. This is what we see on the water so we think the system is fair and working well.”
In the 29 boats in Class B from 10 nations, the top five finishers in both races were all of the same boat type: X-41. This is not surprising, this class having had highly competitive one-design racing among themselves over the past several years in and around the Baltic region. The teams are thus well-honed and competitive, as evidenced by the close margins between boats: in both races the top five were like Class A also within 2 minutes of corrected time after over an hour of racing.
Martin Eslander’s Xini Freedom from Finland is doing the best of the X-41’s on scores of 5-2-1, ahead of Priit Tammenmagi’s Premium skippered by Mati Sepp from Estonia by 6 points, with only 3 points separating the next five places in the standings. This could very well be the class to watch to produce the closest and most contentious results.
And on strong scores of 1-1-3 in a fleet of 40 boats from 9 nations, Class C is currently in control of the Pro4U team from Sweden, who won this class at the last ORC European Championship held in the Baltic region in Parnu, Estonia in 2015. This a very mature team who is sailing near-flawlessly in their modified First 36.7 hailing from Gothenburg. Their lead by five points is over the reigning European champion, Aivar Tuulberg’s Arcona 340 Katariina II from Estonia being driven by Nicolo Bianchi from Italy. The team has just arrived from having competed at the ORC Worlds in Trieste a couple weeks ago under similar wind conditions (without the rain), and before racing today Bianchi said “this will not be an easy regatta either.”
Racing will resume tomorrow with another two inshore races planned to start at 11:30 AM, with Windward/Leeward courses set in two course areas nearby in the Gulf of Gdnask. Live trackers will be used once again, with access made through portals on the event website.
By Dobbs Davis