Monday, October 26, 2015

Italians Dominate J/70 European Championship

J/70 Europeans- YC MonacoSpanish J/70 Sailors Are Rising Stars
(Monte Carlo, Monaco)- It was an all-Mediterranean affair for the top five in this year’s J/70 European Championship for the Credit Suisse Trophy.  Sixty teams representing 11 nationalities enjoyed the four days of racing provided by YC Monaco’s RC team of John Coveney & Thierry Leret.  Plus, the extraordinary crew at YC Monaco not only rolled out the gilded red carpet for the J/70 sailors, but they warmly embraced them as an extended family in the Monegasque tradition of welcoming sailors from all nations.

The regattas started off with brisk easterly breezes in the 13 kts range with a steady swell rolling in with a cross-chop on top— typical of sailing in the tricky Hercules Bay conditions.  For the next four days, the sailors were challenged by such demanding conditions and it was clear those who were familiar with the venue excelled when the going got rough.  What surprised many J/70 teams were the rapid rise of the Spanish and Italian teams to the top of the standings.

J/70 sailing teamWith the J/70 Worlds as the ultimate training ground, the Italian NOTARO Team led by Luca Domenici proved their top ten performance at the Worlds in La Rochelle, France was no fluke.  The top sailor from Anzio, Italy started off the first race with a 20th, but simply scorched the fleet for a 5-2-5-1-3, posting all top five scores to win with 16 pts net.  Domenici attributes his winning performance to his crew of Piero Vigo, Lorenzo Del Rio and Davide Bortoletto.

Another Italian crew that was at the top of the Alcatel OneTouch J/70 Italian National Championship series was the runner-up- Franco Solerio’s L’ELAGAIN from San Remo.  His team of Daniele Cassinari, Simon Alltree and Luca Albarelli also sailed well at the J/70 Worlds and, again, improved every single race to close the Europeans with a bullet in the last race.  Their record of 10-8-6-3-2-1 was good for 20 pts net.

After starting out the regatta in first place after the first day of racing, Spain’s J/80 World Champion and Olympic Medallist, Hugo Rocha, managed to keep NEW TERRITORIES and crew (Alexey Semenov, Ruben Castells, Fran Palacios) in the hunt and secure the bronze with a consistent performance; posting a 3-1-8-2-17-11 for 25 pts net.

J/70 Europeans sailing teams at YC MonacoRounding out the top five was another Spanish team in fourth, Gonzalo Araoejo’s SAILWAY with crew of Guilherme Almeida, Alberto Viejo and Joaquin “Hurricane” Cores).  Fifth was the top Monegasque crew on CARPE DIEM, skippered by Jacopo Carrain with crew of Enrico Fonda, Filippo La Mantia, and Andrea Felci.

The competition was unrelenting and unforgiving.  Multiple Black Flags, plenty of OCS’s, and massive “roller coaster” scorelines scuttled more than their fair share of champion teams.  No one won more than one race and few could even post consistent top ten finishes.

The Mexican J/70 World Champion, Julian Fernandez Neckelmann sailing with Bill Hardesty as tactician on FLOJITO Y COOPERANDO, for example, won the fourth race.  But, they could not overcome a BFD, DSQ and 18th and, subsequently, couldn’t crack the top 15 overall.

A similar scenario held true for the J/70 Midwinter and Bacardi Race Week champion, Carlo Alberini’s CALVI NETWORK.  While they sailed fast and counted a 2-1-2, they also had a BFD-13-19 to contend with; knocking them out of any possible contention for regatta honors.

Not once did the team leading the pack to the first mark win the race, with the downwind legs proving as tactically difficult as the upwind legs.  All the finishes on a reach saw some dramatic luffs with spinnakers flying, delighting spectators and getting the adrenaline pumping.

J/70 sailing- start off YC MonacoThere was everything to play for among the top ten right up to the last race, as the slightest mistake on the start (e.g. an OCS) risked any hope of being on the podium. For example, the young, very talented French team of Quentin Delapierre and Matthieu Salomon (CHARIOT PLUS- VANNES UTILITAIRES) from EV Cataschool were J/80 European Champions.  Their performance during the regatta surprised many people. After a BFD in the first race, their results in the next four races equaled the ultimate regatta winner, posting a 3-5-4-3.  However, a discouraging 23rd in the last race (a counter) dropped them from an easy podium finish to 7th overall.  Watch out for CHARIOT PLUS- VANNES UTILITAIRES in the future, a young, smart, talented French crew!

Amongst the host YC Monaco J/70 fleet, Jacopo Carrain, the Monaco Class President and head of the 15-strong Monegasque fleet reached the objective of a respectable showing with a fine performance.  Carrain’s 5th place was a reflection of the YC Monaco’s commitment to creating the largest training and competition base for J/70s in Europe. Fellow YCM member Andrea Zaoli sailing EST finished 10th.  A great showing for the Principality’s sailors!

Leading the 18-strong German fleet was Moritz Bohnenberger’s TOURING JUNIOR crew that finished 9th overall.  Just off the pace, but winning the first race of the regatta, was colleague Max Rieger on LED ZEPPELIN who finished 12th.  Bo Teichmann’s OUTSIDER was third German team in 16th place.

For having an embryonic fleet, the Swedish contingent of exactly two boats had amazing results.  Oscar Lundqvist’s FANNY was in the top five after three races, but tanked in the last three to salvage an 8th overall.  However, Lundqvist’s FANNY crew was declared J/70 European Corinthian Champions!  Meanwhile, fellow Swede, Ingemar Sundstedt’s ROCAD RACING, sailed consistently in the top quarter of the fleet to take 13th overall.

Besides FANNY’s win in Corinthians, second place went to the Spanish team on MARNATURA skippered by Luis Bugallo Ariolla from Club Nautico de Vigo and third went to Moritz Bohnenberger’s TOURING JUNIOR from Germany’s Deutscher Touring YC.  Fourth was Beppe Zavanone’s PENSAVO PEGGIO from YC San Remo in Italy and fifth was the top UK boat- Anthony Esse’s BABY J from Royal Thames YC.

YC Monaco with J/70 sailboats in frontThanks to the generosity of all the teams, the Championship raised 10,000 euros for the LENVAL Foundation that supports sick children, with a check being presented to its President, Arnaud Pouillart. The money will be used to buy pediatric equipment to detect bacterial and viral infections in A&E or after an operation. Another donation will finance the Christmas Show for the “Conte sur Moi at Le Patio” nursery that has 36 toddlers.

More than half of the J/70 European teams are leaving their boats at YC Monaco for the winter to take part in the Monaco Sportsboat Winter Series, with their sights set on victory at the Primo Cup– Trophée Credit Suisse!  For more J/70 European Championship sailing information   Enjoy these nicely produced sailing videos of the J/70 Europeans: