Swiss resolution, Dutch youth, Italian expertise.
Eight races in one day for Event 1.2 of the Persico 69F Cup: much fun and a battle on equal terms, tomorrow we race for the podium
Eight races in eight hours. After the stop imposed by the weather on Friday, the Grand Prix 1.2 of the Persico 69F Cup in Gargnano today has compensated, with interest, the five exceptional crews of professional sailors at the start of the second stage. First with the morning Peler wind, reaching up to 18 knots and with crests, then with the Ora reaching up to 14 knots in the afternoon creating optimal conditions for skirmishes, splendid maneuvers on foils and hard-fought regattas.
The races saw three crews essentially on even footing: the Swiss Team Tixwave, the very young Dutch crew of the Kingdom Team Netherlands – a true revelation at this event – and the Conti-Micol pairing enriched by Simone Salva: it took the two 2012 Olympians a “trial” race to find their rhythm, handle foils and eventually close in on the finish line during the course of the races. Between Giulia Conti and the Persico 69F it is already love at first sight: “I think it is the most beautiful boat on which I have ever sailed” – she exclaimed as she disembarked- “safer than the 49er, stable, and very fast: we reached 23 knots on a broad reach. Before going out to sea this morning, with waves present, I had a bit of concern but then it passed immediately, there is only fun to be had”.
The Persico 69F Cup is not an ordinary regatta, and not just because you “fly” here: four first places are not enough to be at the top of the standings: here the penalties cost a lot in terms of points, and you gain a lot of advantage by avoiding them. So in the provisional standings, the Swiss Team Tixwave ranks first: who in the water won only one race, but using strategy and consistency, with another five second places and two thirds, ends without penalty garnering them the fair play bonus, which is worth 5 additional points. “Fantastic regatta, hard day. We’re pretty tired but we played our cards. The first two races on the waves were epic,” says Maxime Bachelin.
Only half a point behind, in second place of the provisional rankings, is the crew of Dutch millennials training for the Youth America’s Cup, the Kingdom Team Netherlands. With an average age of twenty years old, two girls and two guys who rotate in the roles on board, obtain three first, two seconds, three thirds and a fourth place, and score one of the top speeds of the day: the chase began with two first places in the last two runs of the day, because at this point there was energy and strength to spare. “What fun today,” says Odile van Aanholt, “the best thing is that you don’t have time for anything: you have to always stay focused, do your job, develop maximum speed. And gosh how we ran!”
Third, as we said, B&G of Conti-Micol and Salvà, who blame a double penalty that deprived them of fair play points: otherwise good in everything, including their maneuvers and buoys rounded on foils. Fourth place but with a big smile nonetheless for Claudia Rossi: the Petite Terrible joined by Stefano Rizzi and Pietro De Luca needs to get accustomed with the vessel, but they feel confident that they are learning to “tame” the boat, and one can be sure that they will succeed. Marco Gradoni closes fifth for now, but at 16 just to participate is already a big accomplishment, also because today he sized himself up with the field, and tomorrow we will see him unintimidated by this format: “It doesn’t bother me that the others are older” – he declares – “the maneuvers are the same, the tactics as well. I just need to get better: give me a second!”
After Friday’s weather suspension, the Persico 69F CUP races started early this morning. The local Peler wind was blowing at 18 knots, and the first test was to reawaken and re-energize the muscles. The organization chose as the route for the first two Runs a quadrilateral with an upwind start. The first Run saw sustained wind: the Swiss Team was able to handle it best of all, followed by the Kingdom team, at ease on the foils. The Petit Terrible’s Claudia Rossi started well, then lingered and finally recovered with a third-place photo finish. Fourth was Micol-Conti-Salvà, fifth Marco Gradoni who put all the grit and enthusiasm of a sixteen-year-old called to play “among the greats”: testing the limits, he tacked to the left, but nonetheless he received a penalty on arrival at the photo finish.
The second race saw wind from 14 to 4 knots, from full foil to “slow dislocation”, but everything changed because Giulia Conti kicked it into high gear, taking the lead of the regatta from the first buoy and closed first with a wide advantage. After the “Olympic Girls 2012” supported by Simone Salvà, came the Swiss: the Swiss Team intended to secure a spot on the podium, and after having gained on Claudia Rossi, second to the first buoy, they finished in second place. Petite Terrible, with Rizzi and De Luca on board, arrived third, and earned the half point for the shortest distance traveled to close the race. In fourth place was the Kingdom Team Netherlands, who tried to recover but received the recognition for the top speed of the Run at 20.10 knots, finishing last was Candelluva (Gradoni-Zucchetti-Rubagotti).
After the Peler died out, the crews returned to port: they resumed racing with the arrival of the Ora wind, which for Run 3 was blowing at eight knots at 1pm, allowing foiling in the downwind stretch. Skirmishes broke out between the women of B&G team and Petit Terrible before the start of the race. By the first buoy the Swiss team was in the lead, and Kingdom Team was last, and so the Kingdom Team headed towards the coast of Brescia, a choice that resulted in a great recovery, bringing them up to first position which they maintained until the end of the race, racking up important points for the standings.
Run 4 opened with a penalty for Kingdom Team for flying its foil for more than five seconds in the pre-departure: at the first buoy Micol-Conti-Salvà secure an ample lead and were followed only by the Swiss Team who favored the Verona coast. The Brescia side was lacking wind and by the 3rd buoy the rankings were defined: B&G team, Swiss team ahead and Kingdom team, Petit Terrible and Candelluva behind. The final stretch was a fascinating battle both for the lead and tail: between B&G and the Swiss in front, between Petit Terrible and Candelluva behind. The success of the Conti-Micol-Savà team was thanks to an excellent run.
Run 5 started with ten knots of wind from the Ora, the route was again a quadrilateral with a downwind start. Conti-Micol-Salvà, still energized by the previous win, were in first by the first buoy, chased by Swiss Team and Kingdom Team: the latter flew fast and made it first at buoy 2, followed by the Swiss Team and B&G who were impeccable in their maneuvers, with an exquisitely timed maneuver at the height of buoy 3 that will remain the talk of the race. Conti-Micol-Salvà passed the first two with a leeward overtaking going on to win the race with honors and praise: second place for the Swiss team, a breath ahead of the Kingdom Team.
Run 6 was a spectacular regatta, the most beautiful since the start of the Persico 69F Cup. The teams flew despite the strong headwind at 12 knots, and at the height of the first buoy, all the teams were very close to each other with Petit Terrible in the lead. But by buoy 2 the real race began: B&G Team passed all with a leeward overtaking and re-established their place in the front of the pack by buoy 3, leaving the Swiss Team and Kingdom Team to fight for second place. In the end, it was the Dutch who finished second, but with a penalty.
With the same route for race number 7, with wind up to 11 knots: it was another energetic regatta, with the Swiss team leading for the first two legs, while Conti-Micol mess up a bit but recovered in the end after a struggle with their gennaker. The headwind encountered after buoy 3 saw extremely hard fought battles with many position changes: the Kingdom Team emerged victorious, crossing the finish line first passing the Swiss Team that maintained second place, with Conti-Micol-Salvà for third by a hair.
The teams had just a few minutes to catch their breath before it was time to close the day with Run 8: The Kingdom Team crew did not give up and won, ahead of the B&G team and the Swiss Team, Petit Terrible and Cadelluva. The day ended with eight races played in eight hours, and with the satisfaction of all the teams.