Bluesmile is the winner
Lake Balaton, Hungary – Despite uncertain conditions where several boats took their turns in the lead of the final race, the Dutch team of Herman van Eijk and Jan-Willem Van den Hondel prevailed in the fourth and final race sailed yesterday to win the ORC Sportboat European Championship, hosted by Balatonfüredi Yacht Club. Being ISAF Group 1 sailors, the pair racing their Smile 22 Bluesmile have also won the top prize for the Corinthian division.
“This was a difficult regatta, and today it was really hard, but in the end it worked out well, said van Eijk. “It was always important to read the wind conditions.” Bluesmile may have also benefited from being pushed by their sistership rivals on Grijze Plaag, another Smile 22 owned by Martin Baas. Except for Baas breaking a rudder in Race 2, the two boats were 1-2 throughout the entire series.
Yesterday’s partly sunny skies were a welcome break from three days of rain, and a light and shifty 6-9 knot northerly breeze prompted race managers to set an alternate inshore course of 9 miles duration. This course consisted of a short windward leg of the shore at Balatonaracs, a long reach to a mark placed off the shore at Alsoors, another reach back to Balatonaracs, a long downwind leg to Tihany, then a beat back to the finish at Balatonaracs.
A big shift to the left after the start favored boats at the pin and who could get on to port tack and find a lane of clear air on the long port tack towards the top mark. Sukru Sanus and his OD Yachting team from Turkey sailing their Farr 25 OD played the shifts well, being first around, followed closely by Vasily Alexeev and his Russian team sailing their O-800 Kvartet.
The long reach became a contest between who had the right sails for close reaching, and shifting between headsails, spinnakers and code0’s. Mikael Vesala’s Swedish Cheetah 30 had a code0 they used with great effect, allowing them to take the lead rounding the second mark. But by hooking the mark and having to do a penalty turn, the Swedes ceded the lead back to the Russians, followed closely by the Turks.
The next 2.5-mile leg downwind to Tihany showed the strength of knowing the local conditions on the lake: by staying on starboard gybe and coming closer to shore at the peninsula, the local-based Hungarian boats rode a lane of pressure the leaders missed in the middle of the course, thereby vaulting them into the lead around the bottom mark. Laszlo Fazekis’s Flaar 26 Kolibri was first to round, followed by Mikropakk’s Code8 Innov8. The series leader Bluesmile was at this stage deep in the pack.
But the final upwind leg to the finish proved tricky as well, and by hugging the same Tihany side of the course and getting a bit lucky with some building breeze, the two Dutch Smile 22’s were able to vault back up into contention, as did the Janus Bernula’s Nautic 220 Hornet Yello. The Turks came in hard from the left to cross the line first and preserve just enough corrected time to win the overall Silver medal by one point over another small boat – the Polish Cors T2 Neoprofil sailed by Piotr Adamowicz – who did well by finishing 5th in the race and assure their own overall Bronze medal position on the podium.
Already interest in future ORC Sportboat Championships is strong: representatives from Portodimare, Italy were attending this event as observers in anticipation to create their own bid to host the 2016 championship. Pending approval from ORC, they invited all to Chiaggio to race next year.
Final overall standings after Races 1-4:
1. Bluesmile (NED)* Smile 22 1 – 1 – 2 – 1 5 points
2. Onedesign Ruffles (TUR) Farr 25OD 5 – 2 – 5 – 7 19
3. Neoprofil (POL)* Cors T2 9 – 3 – 3 – 5 20
4. Orion (HUN) T-Jolle 3 – 9 – 8 – 4 24
5. Kvartet (RUS)* O-800 4 – 4 – 4 – 12 24
6. Grijze Plaag (NED) Smile 22 2 – 28 – 1 – 2 33
7. Serafina (SUI) Saphire 27 6 – 5 – 7 – 15 33
8. Nomad (HUN)* Elliott 770 7 – 7 – 9 – 14 37
9. Yello (HUN)* Nautic 220 11-11-13 – 3 38
10. Aster (HUN)* Elliott 770 10-12-10-11 43
Of interest to both spectators and competitors has been use of the raceQs online tracking system, where boats with smart phones can provide either live through a network connection or later through upload the tracking data for their boats during the day’s racing. This is then displayed on a web page dedicated to the event (www.raceQs.com/regattas/45250).
For more information about teams, format and racing details at the 2015 ORC Sportboat European Championship, visit the event website at http://orcsportboateuropeans2015.byc.hu.
And for more information on ORC and other ORC rules, classes and events, visit www.orc.org.