Aspire takes slim lead in 5.5 Metre French Open

European Champions, Aspire (POL 17, Mateusz Kusznierewicz, Przemysław Gacek, Simon Fry) take the lead at the 2021 5.5 Metre French Open at the Régates Royales in Cannes after three more races on day two. 

New Moon II (BAH 24, Mark Holowesko, Peter Vlasov, Christoph Burger) is up to second while day one leaders Momo (SUI 229, Dieter Schön, Markus Wieser, Thomas Auracher) drop to third. 

Momo sailing downwind with red kite, bowperson sitting near the front.
Momo were able to get the win from Aspire in the fifth race. Pic – Robert Deaves

In generally light winds, each of the top three boats won a race on a day that was quite mentally draining and in which the right side tended to bring the biggest benefits.

New Moon was the early leader in race four, however Aspire favoured the right on the second upwind to pass ahead and lead down to the finish with Ali-Baba (BAH 23, Craig Symonette, Flavio Marazzi, William Alloway) third.

Momo and Aspire fought tooth and nail in race five, with Momo just coming out ahead and New Moon in third. Then in the final race the right paid even more. New Moon started badly but was first to the right and rounded with a clear lead which was never threatened to win from Ali Baba and Pungin (SUI 213, Hans-Peter Schmid, Gilbert Dürr, Walter Dürr).

Ali Baba is in third, just four points off the top.

Ali Baba sailing upwind, another boat on their leeward.
There are only 4-points separating the top group. Pic – Robert Deaves

Craig Symonette said, “It was generally light conditions and very important to get off the right end of the line. We were a little slower than most out of the pack but the lead boats won the races by large margins today, while yesterday was very close.

“It was just generally fun racing. The race committee are doing a good job, but the wind comes and goes and I don’t think there was a favoured side. 

On Cannes Symonette said, “I love Cannes. I’ve always loved coming to Cannes. The restaurants are so nice, there’s a friendly atmosphere and I think its good for the class to travel here. It’s nice to see so many boats and I think the class will grow back.

“But generally a good pleasing day. We were a little off the pace but you can’t have it all the time.”

New Moon sailing upwind. Crew members hiking.
“It was very difficult trying the figure out the wind,” said Mark Holowesko from New Moon. Pic – Robert Deaves

Mark Holowesko, from New Moon, said, “I am mentally exhausted. It was very difficult trying the figure out the wind. In the first two races we went the wrong way upwind but managed to still be in the race. But the wind was like a banana going up by the island. Eventually we figured that out.

“It was just so apparent in the last race and that hooking by the island came into play and when you were clear of the island the wind came back. That was difficult to figure out.”

New Moon changed sails after the first race of the day when it became clear the wind was not going to keep building. “We were a bit nervous about putting up the light wind sails initially. We started with the light wind jib and a regular main and then changed to light wind main and jib after the first race. In that light stuff we also did a better job steering with the sails. It’s easy to over steer and slow yourself down so its better to use the sail trim but especially the jib trim, and we did a better job of that as the day went on.”

On the competition so far, “If you’re in the top three in these conditions then that’s good. So we’re happy with that. It’s good competition out here, so that’s fun.”

The right hand hook was found by several boats in the final race of the day, including Silver Fox (GER 83, Joerg Gruenwald, Anna Grünwald, Steffen Grünwald), who rounded second behind New Moon.

Silver Fox sailing upwind.
A family affair on Silver Fox. Pic – Robert Deaves

Joerg Gruenwald said his crew, his son and daughter, were pretty excited by that after spending most races struggling further back.

“The wind was dropping so my gut feeling was between the island and the shore there should be more wind because it is funnelled there; and it was a lucky punch as we were second at the top.

“It’s not usual for us, so we were very happy. This is a family boat, and they had big fun and were so proud. They were excited and they are learning more and more. So I hope there will be some new young 5.5 sailors coming into the class.”

Silver Fox is a Doug Peterson design, built in Cowes, UK, by David Heritage.

“It is a very sophisticated and therefore a little but too complicated therefore it really takes tie understand every detail of the boat. But she goes very fine in good winds.

“We didn’t sail last year so we are very happy to be in Cannes again.

“This is my third time here, the first time was with my other boat a famous Australian boat called Southern Cross, that I have in Hamburg.

“I like it here. It’s a beautiful sight. They usually have wind, not too strong, but not nothing. But the atmosphere is outstanding. The French people do a great job and really deserve our applause.”

Racing at the 5.5 Metre French Open in Cannes continues until Friday. Results after six races:
1 Aspire (POL 17, Mateusz Kusznierewicz, Przemysław Gacek, Simon Fry) 10
2 Momo (SUI 229, Dieter Schön, Markus Wieser, Thomas Auracher) 11
3 New Moon II (BAH 24, Mark Holowesko, Peter Vlasov, Christoph Burger) 12
4 Ali-Baba (BAH 23, Craig Symonette, Flavio Marazzi, William Alloway) 14
5 Black & White (SUI 219, Daniel Schenker, Mark Dangel, Renato Marazzi) 23

For the full results, see:!/onb?tab=sportcommunication&classId=06163fa0-c6c5-4e7e-aee8-9101c2ac713d

By Robert Deaves

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