Aspire (POL 17, Mateusz Kusznierewicz, Przemysław Gacek, Ed Wright) has the early lead after an action packed opening day on Thursday at the 2023 5.5 Metre Alpen Cup at Circolo Vela Torbole on Lake Garda. Shaolin (SUI 226, Flavio Marazzi, Hans von Werdt, Andreas Kindlimann) is in second with Otto (NOR 69, Bent Christian Wilhelmsen, Lasse Berthelsen, Herve Cunningham) third. Race wins went to Jean Genie (GBR 43, Peter Morton, Andrew Palfrey, Ruairidh Scott), Aspire and Shaolin.
It was a tough opening day with a cold southerly wind and an unforgiving 15-20 knots all day causing some damage and early retirements to the bar. However, the event has attracted a record-breaking entry, the highest since the event was created in 2006. No less than 17 boats have come to Torbole from ten countries, including two from Australia, and this bodes well for the continued growth of the class as it looks to take its events to some exciting venues in the coming years.
The three races were pretty similar with the right side paying well each race. Half the fleet went left in the first race, and paid a heavy price, so after that most went right.
Jean Genie (GBR 43, Peter Morton, Andrew Palfrey, Ruairidh Scott) led all the way in Race 1, tacking shortly after clearing the boat to lead to the right and then build a substantial lead to take the gun. Behind them, Aspire, Girls On Film (GBR 41, Louise Morton, Frithjof Kleen, Sam Haines) and Otto had an epic battle all the way and rounded the final mark together. Aspire took the low course and just crossed ahead of Otto.
Jean Genie again had a good lead at the first mark in Race 2, but disaster struck half way down the run when their rudder sheared off and they had to pull out. Aspire took the lead to take the gun with John B (BAH 26 Gavin McKinney, Lars Horn Johannessen, Mathias Dahlman) taking third, their first event in their new boat.
Girls On Film then produced a brilliant start in the final race of the day to port tack the fleet and lead round the first mark with a nice gap. However it was not a day to be British, and a snapped gooseneck half way down the run meant another retirement. This left Aspire and Shaolin fighting tooth and nail for the win. Aspire arguable had legs upwind, but Marazzi’s downwind technique won the day as he took the bullet. New Moon III (BAH 25, Mark Holowesko, Christoph Burger, Peter Vlasov) ended an otherwise tough day with a third.
Morton explained, “We’ve only sailed GBR 43 a couple of times in Cowes. It’s the same as GBR 42 with a few tweaks on the rig and the keel, and obviously the rudder. Coming out of the blocks in Race 1 today we were in good shape, and we led all the way round. Then in race two we were leading. We had a good lead at the first mark and then on the run the rudder snapped off, and so that’s the end of the day and the regatta for us, but we’re pretty pleased with the boat. We felt comfortable all the time. Upwind we were fast and downwind we were fast. So, it always helps when you have a little bit of pace on the others.”
On his 70th birthday, he was philosophical about the breakage. “It’s disappointing obviously, especially as today is my 70th birthday. But there you go; that’s sailing…”
Kusznierewicz leads overall. “It was a beautiful day. In fact, everything was beautiful except the temperature. The water is very cold. We could see some snow on the mountains and I think when it’s coming down the temperature is very close to the ice.
“But three really good races. Well done to the race committee. We started on time with not much breaks in between the races so that’s better for us with this temperature and also for the equipment because there is quite a lot of wind here on Garda lake.
“We had a quite a big battle in front of the fleet and we enjoyed the racing. We were coming into the finish line of the first race race with three boats within three seconds, so you can image how tight it was.
“It was a nice day. Looking forward to the next one.”
Former world champion Marazzi, was sailing his first day ever on Shaolin. “It was an amazing day with Shaolin. The first race ever for me on the boat. We had an amazing first start but took the wrong side but then came back nicely and learned form that and had another two good races and then won the last one.
“The last race was pretty windy, probably 18-20 knots, and was perfect Garda conditions and that’s what we like.
“I hope we have another two days with nice breeze and a lot of action out there.”
On the conditions, “Can’t get better than this. Just amazing to have nice weather, sunshine, 20 knots, sweet water and lots of fun with a good fleet. It’s amazing.”
Racing continues until Saturday with a maximum of five more races to sail.
Results after 3 races
1 Aspire (POL 17, Mateusz Kusznierewicz, Przemysław Gacek, Ed Wright) 5
2 Shaolin (SUI 226, Flavio Marazzi, Hans von Werdt, Andreas Kindlimann) 14
3 Otto (NOR 69, Bent Christian Wilhelmsen, Lasse Berthelsen, Herve Cunningham) 15
4 John B (BAH 26 Gavin McKinney, Lars Horn Johannessen, Mathias Dahlman) 16
5 Artemis (NOR 57, Kristian Nergaard, Johan Barne, Trond Solli-Sæther) 16
Full gallery here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/fivepointfivemetre/albums/72177720307848538