Former 5.5 Metre world champions Artemis XIV NOR 57 (Kristian Nergaard, Johan Barne, Trond Solli Sæther) had a great return to form this weekend after taking out the 2018 Alpen Cup/Trofeo Franco Santoni over eight races at Torbole on Lake Garda.
They ended the regatta tied on points with New Moon, BAH 21 (Mark Holowesko, Peter Vlasov, Maschio, Christoph Burger), but won the title by virtue of having won more races. Marie-Françoise XIX, SUI 228 (Jürg Menzi, Jürgen Eiermann, Christof Wilke) took third.
In the class’s 70th anniversary year many teams are returning to the water ahead of the World Championship in Cowes this August where a larger than normal turnout is expected. The 2018 Alpen Cup in Torbole marked the beginning of the European season of the International 5.5 Metre Class with three days of very tight racing in traditional Garda conditions. Twelve boats from six nations participated in this year’s edition.
The regatta began Thursday with three races in the southerly Ora. The first two races were sailed in about 14-18 knots with more pressure on the left-hand side of the course. Artemis XIV got it right more than most and managed to win the first two races. New Moon, Marie-Françoise XIX and current world champions John B, BAH 22 (Gavin Mckinney, Mathias Dahlman, Lars Johannessen) traded second and third places.
Christoph Burger explained, “It was all about keeping the lane coming off the start and sailing fast as possible to the rocks. The game always opens a little up when choosing the lay line to go to the top mark. Some teams looked promising at first, when tacking off the rocks early, but the most inside one rounded first.”
The wind was shifting by the final race and was much softer, dropping from 16-8 knots and left many of the early front-runners struggling for position. Caracole, SUI 214 (Bernard Haissly, Daniel Stampfli, Nicolas Berthoud) took the glory of the third race by starting all the way at the committee boat end of the line, and finding a right-hand shift with more pressure. Feng Shui NED 26 (Arend Jan Pasman, Kim Chabani, Ron Azier) took a solid second place in a very tricky race.
Friday was another epic day with three solid races. Circolo Vela Torbole put on some great race organisation starting precisely on time with wind conditions typical for Torbole with 15-18 knots and again, more wind on the left hand side of the course.
Race four was a duel between Artemis XIV and New Moon going hard to the left with the rest of the fleet right on their backs. New Moon maintained the best lane and rounded the top mark first and never gave up her lead.
Races five and six were very much the same, with Artemis XIV and New Moon going left to the rocks and Caracole, Marie-Françoise XIX and John B sailing more to the middle of the lake to look very good at certain points.
After a pretty consistent day with a 1,3,3 New Moon took the overall lead from Artemis XIV and Marie-Françoise XIX, who won the second and third races.
One of the most recent converts to the fleet, Martin Cross, from Australia, sailing Alpha Crucis, AUS 61, had an eventful day.
He recalled, “A very exciting day. We are still trying to learn how to sail the new boat. I also have two new crew who have never sailed in one before. So we have a huge learning curve.”
“We have our moments when we get right and then we have our moments when we are not quite so good an efficient. A lot of sequencing is required to do things in the right order and we are still learning how to do it. We did actually manage to fill the boat up today on a wave, which was quite exciting, when the boat is full of water, but luckily there are lots of bilge pumps in the Wilke boat and it emptied pretty quickly.”
“But a great day on the water; thoroughly enjoyed it.”
After a good day of racing the fleet were welcomed back to the Circolo Vela Torbole with white wine and pasta.
Saturday, the final day of the event, provided even closer racing among the very competitive fleet. After waiting for the wind to switch direction, the fleet enjoyed two final races in slightly calmer winds than expected. The top three boats were very close on points, so there was still everything to play for.
First blood went to Artemis XIV, taking the win in race seven from New Moon and 5Billy5, ITA 79 (Silvio Santoni, Giovanni Arrivabene, Marco Bonzanigo).
The final deciding race was a nail-biter.
Kim Chabani said, “In our opinion there was not a convincing good side of the course; left middle or right, it was all tricky again. Noticeable was that many times a boat just 30 meters windward or leeward could have a 5-10 degree different wind direction.”
It was very busy at committee boat end of the line with Artemis XIV stuck between other boats. Marie-Françoise XIX tried to squeeze in between and go down on the line but was forced by Alpha Crucis to give way. Marie-Françoise XIX eventually went right but made a small tack back about half way the course, which moved her up to first at the top mark. They went on to win their third race of the series.
5Billy5 finished a credible second and with Artemis XIV crossing just ahead of New Moon, the former world champions had done just enough to take the title on countback. Marie-Françoise XIX ended up third overall.
In addition to the Alpen Cup Trophy, Artemis XIV also received the new Trofeo Franco Santoni, which was presented this year in memory of the former Commodore of CVT who died last year. His boat of choice was a 5.5 Metre and the regatta was dedicated to him.
The European 5.5 Metre circuit continues on June 21-23 with the Italian & Swiss Open at Lake Como, Italy.
1 Artemis XIV NOR 57 (Johan Barne, Trond Solli Sæther, Kristian Nergaard) 18pts
2 New Moon, BAH 21 (Mark Holowesko, Peter Vlasov, Christoph Burger) 18pts
3 Marie-Françoise, XIX SUI 228 (Jürg Menzi, Jürgen Eiermann, Christof Wilke) 25pts
by Robert Deaves