It was a slow day in Cannes but one of intensely hot competition. The 2022 5.5 Metre French Open at the Regates Royales in Cannes started with two very light wind races. Aspire (POL 17, Mateusz Kusznierewicz, Przemysław Gacek, Flavio Marazzi) leads from Otto (NOR 68, Bent Christian Wilhelmsen, Herve Cunningham, Lasse Berthelsen) with New Moon III (BAH 25, Mark Holowesko, Christoph Burger, Peter Vlasov) in third.
After a delayed start the light winds never produced much more than 5-8 knots, sometimes less, but there was close racing at the front and the rear with the older boats and the moderns.
The racing was all about the left or the right – the gradient or the sea breeze, which never really developed. Ali Baba (GER 84, Wolf-Eberhard, Richter Beata Kallkowski, Oliver Weiss) made the best of the first upwind finding the first left shift to round ahead from New Moon. New Moon had the lead by the gate with Aspire up to third. Then Otto again found a shift on the left and moved up to second with excellent speed to round just behind New Moon. On the final downwind Aspire closed on Otto but on the last gybe Otto found more pressure to cross second behind New Moon with Aspire third. However, after a great race it transpired that Ali Baba was OCS at the start.
The second race was similar. This time Ali Baba went right and hooked into a right shift while Aspire went left and rounded just ahead. Ali Baba then took the lead by the gate favouring the left side downwind and headed right upwind. However, Aspire rounded the opposite gate and headed left, which this time was correct. On the next cross both Aspire and Otto had passed Ali Baba. Then on the final downwind Aspire and Otto extended on the fleet with Ali Baba some way back in third.
Herve Cunningham, bowman on Otto said, “It was pretty light conditions, 4-8 knots, but it worked out well for us. We came second twice. So a good result. Bent Christian had a good day on the helm and a fantastic job from the crew, so we’re pretty happy. Hoping that tomorrow that the breeze will kick it a bit more as these conditions are challenging and hard for the nerves so looking forward to tomorrow.
“Lasse was calling tactics and it was always about going fast and getting into the new breeze or new shift, so we were sailing in a fast mode and obviously with the good calls it worked out well for us. It was the kind of a day when you wanted to be everywhere because the wind was so different from one point to another. But the call was go fast and deal with what we got. You have to be lucky in these kind of conditions as well and we had a bit of luck, and did a good job.”
Przemysław Gacek, middleman of Aspire, said, “First of it’s great to be back. We love Cannes, the weather is like late summer for us northern Europeans.
“Today was tough actually. The wind was changing and not very strong and I think we struggled more in the first race. The boats that went left, such as Ali Baba, gained the most, and then we were fighting against Otto who did a great job today and they managed to overtake us on the second upwind.
“In the second race we had a good start and went to the left and that paid off, and then we had to defend against Otto again. It was very tricky with puffs of wind but once or twice it was better to go to the right but most cases the left was better.
“For us it was tough because we are a 300kg team, so very much looking forward to tomorrow because the wind will be stronger and we are going to fight. We are sailing with Flavio [Marazzi] here and he did a great job as well. It was a fantastic day for us and looking forward for more.”
Racing continues until Friday
Results after 2 races
1 Aspire (POL 17, Mateusz Kusznierewicz Przemysław Gacek, Flavio Marazzi) 4
2 Otto (NOR 68, Bent Christian Wilhelmsen Herve Cunningham, Lasse Berthelsen) 4
3 New Moon III (BAH 25, Mark Holowesko Christoph Burger, Peter Vlasov) 6
4 No Stress (SUI 201, Jörg Sonntag Jacob Rek, Lina Urbat) 10
5 Pungin (SUI 213, Hans-Peter Schmid Gilbert Dürr, Walter Dürr) 11
Photo gallery here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/fivepointfivemetre/albums/72177720302249872
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Original article by Robert Deaves