Thursday, July 3, 2014

Aarhus SC Wins J/70 Danish Sailing League- Sonderborg

Danish youth J/70 sailors (Sonderborg, Denmark)- The Danish J/70 Sailing League’s second event took place in Sonderborg.  The stage was set for good weather conditions for all three days of sailing.  The big question on many teams minds was whether the Hellerup Sailing Club would continue its winning ways with its new skipper Mads Christensen or would another club rise to the occasion and knock them off their pedestal?  In fact, the HSC further strengthened their team by adding Christina Otzen, the Olympic Bronze Medallist in the Yngling at the Olympic Games in Athens in 2004 with Dorte Jensen and Helle Jespersen.

Speaking of female skippers and crew, the League’s number two team, KDY, sailed with an all women crew in Rungsted, led by skipper Lotte Meldgaard. However, for the event in Sønderborg, only two women would be aboard, the 18-year-old skipper Felix Jacobsen and Louise Christensen sailing with the two men- Rune Larsen and Mathis Groenemann.

Danish J/70 sailorsIt was hardly a surprise too many that Hellerup Sailing Club and KDY would prevail at the top of Rungsted event. Therefore, it was perhaps more unexpected that Silkeborg Sailing Club took the third place on the podium.  The Club is from the Mid-Jutland Lake District.  However, they were very well prepared by having rented two J/70 's in Germany and trained diligently in the days leading up to league debut.  "The goal was to get in the top ten. We reviewed the way we sailed and now we are going for a podium position again,” said skipper Lars Wegener to  Lars Wegener has previously won the H-Boat World Championship

And so the stage was set for the eighteen clubs and seventy-one sailors that participated in Sonderborg.  The fleet was blessed with better than expected conditions, in fact testing the crew’s abilities to sail the J/70 in 15-25 kt winds.  Boat speed off the line and boat-handling were critical, some sailed near flawlessly while others struggled.  Perhaps the greatest differences were teams still learning how to exploit the transitions back and forth from “soak” mode to “planing” mode (a scenario that plays out in winds that vary in the 12-15 kts range).

After the first day of racing, it was self-evident the “south Jutlanders” were excelling on home waters.  The two local clubs, Sailing Club Aabenraa and Sønderborg Yacht Club, had sailed themselves to the head of the pack while the mighty Hellerup SC team fell back. Both of the locals showed plenty of speed upwind and, especially downwind. In the three flights on Friday, each picked up two wins and a second place. The Hellerup SC team were still suffering from crew and boat-handling issues, a consequence of assembling new members of the team- falling into 14th place after two 4th’s and a 6th.  On the whole, the entire fleet positions were thoroughly shaken up compared to what happened in Rungsted.

A new innovation was implemented for the League leaders for this event— after the first day, the entire crew of the winning team would wear “yellow pullovers” so they could easily be identified by their competitors.  The yellow jersey was made famous and is synonymous with the Tour de France bike race leader. As a result, it was Hellerup SC that wore the yellow jerseys on Friday.  But after their dismal performance, the new leader was Sonderborg YC after their terrific day of sailing on Friday.

Danish J/70 woman skipper winningAfter Saturday’s racing, the Aabenraa Sailing Club was the new leader with three victories out of four possible races.  It appeared to be a good bet that they could become the winner of the League’s Sonderborg event.  Also of importance, because of their comeback performance on Saturday with two 1sts and two 2nds, the Hellerup SC was back atop the leaderboard for the overall standings (now having to wear the yellow jersey again for Sunday’s final day of racing).

After two days of sailing the Aabenraa SC were clearly leading the regatta with 38 points ahead of Aarhus SC with 34 points and Middelfart Sailing Club with 31 points. It was clear Hellerup SC reveled in the heavy weather conditions.  When the races began a clear, strong northwesterly was blowing 10-20 kts and by the mid-afternoon it was gusting well into the high 20’s.  After one team blew out a spinnaker, the RC PRO cancelled racing for the rest of the day.

The last day produced perhaps the biggest surprise of the League so far.  Aarhus SC with Peter Warrer as skipper moved past Aabenraa SC on the last race of the day and was crowned the champion for the Sonderborg event.  In the meantime, Hellerup continued to extend their overall league lead with another excellent performance.

J/70 sailing Danish sailing leagueThe last day of racing also saw at least 10-20 kt winds, weather conditions that Aarhus SC found to its liking.  In the meantime, despite having a nice lead going into the final day, the Aabenraa SC had a very costly last place in the penultimate race to drop into second overall with 53 pts.  And, despite starting off slowly, the Hellerup SC team climbed the ladder quickly to take third place and maintain their lead in the overall standings.

For Aarhus SC the victory was a marked improvement over their 10th place in Rungsted.  "In Rungsted we started well in the beginning but had a disastrous Saturday with several penalties for false starts and more. We sailed simply bad, and it cost us dearly. We turned ourselves around down here in Sønderborg,” explained skipper Peter Warrer.  He added, “I have a great crew that knows how to drive the boat forward. We're probably the field's fastest boat sailing with the spinnaker, it has been crucial to our success."  Sailing with Peter were Michael Risor, Kasper Sohn and Jakob Friis.

For the overall Danish J/70 Sailing League standings, Hellerup SC is first with 34 pts followed by Sonderborg YC in second with 28 pts and in third is Aarhus SC with 27 pts.  Lying 4th also with 27 pts is KDY and fifth is Faaborg SC with 26 pts.  The League is based on “high point” scoring- 1st = 18 pts, 2nd = 17 pts, etc.

The Danish Sailing League now takes a short break in July and returns to competition in Hellerup on August 22nd to 24th.

For Danish Sailing League videos: overview     Day 1 Summary    Day 2 Summary
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For more Sejlsportsligaen sailing information