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Full day of racing on Murcia's Mar Menor

A-Class cats and Moths join the EUROSAF High Performance Grand Prix

Friday October 14th 2011, Author: James Boyd, Location: Spain

High Performance Grand Prix on the Murcia region of Spain’s Mar Menor, the fleets of catamarans, skiffs and kiteboards were joined today by the singlehanded A-Clas catamarans and the foiling Moths.

The most substantial racing was undertaken by the 29erXXs, who today tried out some new course formats. First up was a knock-out series with four boats racing at a time and the last to finish each round being eliminated. This was held on a conventional windward-leeward course, but with a mandatory gate to go through on both the upwind and downwind legs. In this the Danish crew of Ida Marie Baad Nielsen and Marie Thusgaard Olsen once again excelled finishing ahead of fellow Aarhus Sailing Club member Lin Cenholt and her Dutch crew Kaj Böcker with Spain’s Maria Cantero and Ana Hernande third.

Following this there was a change of course format and the whole fleet of 29erXXs sailed a windward-leeward with a gate on the upwind and downwind legs and a slalom at the top of the run. Three races on this course were held and again the Danes Nielsen and Olsen came out top, but this time ahead of Germans Juliane Wolf and Elena Stoffers with Cenholt and Böcker third.

Kevin Fischer, 20, from La Baule on France’s west coast, who is sailing here as part of a mixed 29erXX team with Marion Leprunier, said he liked the new course formats. “They are good but we don’t play with the wind, you play with the other boats.” Fischer, who normally sails a 49er, was joint leader yesterday, but had a disaster in the knock-out series today when they broke their tiller extension during a capsize. “Today the racing was more difficult because it was very close, and there was a lot of density going around the marks. Because this is our first regatta together, it was difficult to do good manoeuvres.” He and Leprunier redeemed themselves in the second series today, finishing fourth.

Tomorrow, supposedly the windiest day here, the 29erXXs will race their Seiko Speed Trials.

In the Kite Cross World Championship, the USA’s Damien Leroy is leading the men’s division having come out top in both of the two rounds sailed. He is ahead of France’s Bruno Sroka, who came third in both rounds with Spain’s Miguel Villar third overall.

American favourite Bryan Lake, from San Francisco, didn’t have the best day. He finished second after a close battle with Leroy in the first round, but in the second missed his heat. “I blew it. I went away from my equipment for 10 minutes and when I came back it was super-tangled. It took me 10 minutes to get it undone and I missed the start of my race.” Lake now stands fifth overall.

“I am trying to stay positive. I beat Damien at the Course Racing Worlds this year. It is tough for a lot of competitors. You feel sorry for the guys who crash their kites in the water and they end up swimming the whole time and miss their races. Hopefully tomorrow we’ll get some better breeze.”

Among the women, France’s Caroline Adrien is leading, who like LeRoy won both rounds, to lead Germany Kristin Boese, who finished second in both rounds.

Holding third is Eugenia Gueorguieva, originally from Bulgaria but who has been living in the USA for the last 11 years since going to school there. She only started competing regularly on her kiteboard this year on San Francisco Bay, but during this time says she has been improving rapidly which promoted her to come to Murcia for the inaugural Kite Cross World Championship.

She, like Lake, started strongly yesterday but didn’t do too well today. “I am missing one ke-sized kite. My 13 [sqm] blew up in the air – it just exploded. So I have a 11 and 16 sqm, but today I could have used the 13. That always happens when you need it.” She was going to use her 16sqm kite in the last race today until it was called it off when the breeze dropped below the minimum of 6 knots.

“I like the Mar Menor a lot,” said Gueorguieva. “If the wind was stronger it would be perfect. The water is warm, the jelly fish were a bit scary in the beginning but they don’t sting, so that’s fine.”

Since coming third in the first race yesterday, so double Olympic Tornado medallist Mitch Booth and his Spanish crew Miguel Perez have put together an unbroken string of bullets, including the three races held today. “There were perfect sailing conditions - warm sun, nice winds, flat water,” said Booth. “With three firsts today our score card looks good, but we were pushed. There are a couple of local guys who are at quite a good level and they are training for the European championships. We are not leading each race from the beginning.”

Booth, who this afternoon was going to have his first ride on one of Pro-Vela’s Mach 2 foiling Moths, currently leads the Spanish crews of Marc Verdaguer/Alberto Torner and Michel Ten Bokun/Enrique Ortiz both on 11 points.

The A-Class catamaran sailed two conventional windward-leeward races on their first day at the EUROSAF High Performance Grand Prix. Barcelona’s Enrique Cornejo won both ahead of British sailmaker Mickey Todd, who is based in Spain.

Valencia-based Frenchman Thomas Gaveriaux is holding fifth, aboard his DNA A-cat. In the first race he says he was late for the start but managed to claw his way back up to fourth by the top mark. For the second the wind had dropped a little so that the boats weren’t able to fly their weather hulls downwind. In the second race he says his start was better until “I tacked in some waves in a low patch and it cost me - I couldn’t get out of it again. I lost about four or five places and then I struggled particularly downwind. I would gain three places upwind but lost three places downwind.”

13 A-Class cats competed today and more are expected to pitch up for the final two days of the competition. Two foiling Moths joined the competition today with local resident and Pro-Vela proprietor Alan Hillman leading the ‘long distance’ race around the island within the Mar Menor ahead of Simon Reynolds.

Following last night’s post racing beer-fuelled soiree courtesy of Magic Marine, who are supplying all the Lycra tops to competitors at the EUROSAF High Performance Grand Prix, tonight’s social is a ‘fish barbeque’ laid on by the race organisers.

Full results here

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