_SZL1198.previewWith a dying breeze, the 27-mile distance race yesterday favored fast boats in the 27-boat fleet

Lake Balaton, Hungary – In cool and rainy conditions that ranged from a brisk 15-18 knots of shifty wind at the start to dying down to nearly nothing towards the finish, racing got underway yesterday in the 2015 ORC Sportboat European Championship, hosted at Balatonfüred YC. A 27-mile distance race course was set around the eastern half of Lake Balaton, central Europe’s largest lake, to give competitors in the 27-boat fleet a chance to perform in a wide variety of wind angles and wind speeds.

After a start made chaotic by a huge last-minute right shift, two lightweight high-performance Smile 22’s from Holland came out within the top of the pack after the first 1-mile beat to the first mark, then extended into the outright lead with high speed runs and reaches combined with smart upwind tactics in the shifty conditions.

On the strength of this performance it was Herman van Eijk’s Bluesmile taking the first win of the series from Grijze Plaag, a sistership sailed by fellow Dutchman Martin Baas, by a margin of over 4 minutes after 4 hours of sailing. These two were in turn able to benefit from the dying breeze to amass an even larger margin in corrected time over their closest rival in third place, Gabor Tonko’s local-based T-Jolle Orion.

Five boats had to withdraw from today racing, including two that suffered from a T-bone collision that occurred in the first leg of the race. Mikael Visala’s Cheetah 30 was holed on their port side in the collision, but the damage is repairable to come out to race today when the entire fleet should be in full strength to start the first of several inshore windward-leeward races scheduled through Sunday.

Weather models suggest strong shifty winds as they did yesterday, but anything can happen in this notoriously challenging venue.

Top-ten standings after Race 1:

1. Bluesmile (NED) Smile 22 1 points

2. Grijze Plaag (NED) Smile 22 2

3. Orion (HUN) T-Jolle 3

4. Kvartet (RUS) O-800 4

5. Onedesign Ruffles (TUR) Farr 25OD 5

6. Serafina (SUI) Saphire 27 6

7. Nomad (HUN) Ellliott 770 7

8. Princess (HUN) Elliott 770 8

9. Neoprofil (POL) Cors T2 9

10. Aster (HUN) Elliott 770 10

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.

Photo: László Szekeres, Hajó Magazin

And for more information on ORC and other ORC rules, classes and events, visit www.orc.org.