One down

And then there were six as 30 knot gust decimates Little America's Cup fleet

Monday September 14th 2015, Author: James Boyd, Location: Switzerland

Yacht racing Lake Geneva - you might expect a patchy 5-6 knots at best? However not so for the opening day of the 2015 Little America's Cup where racing for the seven C-Class catamarans got underway in 14-18 knots, the wind building until a 30 knot gust struck the fleet on the final run of today's last race. Sadly this caused Aethon, the C-Class catamaran of Mr Little America's Cup, Steve Clark to capsize, destroying her fragile wing.

She was far from alone though. Team Gstaad Yacht Club, sailed by Nacra 17 World Champion Billy Besson and Mathieu Vandame - the team most likely to challenge the dominant Cammas and Louis Viat on Groupama C - failed to finish the first race and scored a DNF in the second, as did the German-Polish crew on Sentient Blue, which suffered a broken front element on their wing after their tried to induce some twist in it.

In fact only three boats successfully completed the second race. The immaculate Cammas and Viat won both races showing a similar 'in a different league' standard, as they did in Falmouth two years ago. Returning to the Societe Nautique de Geneve with no damage.

While Steve Clark and Mike Costello are out of the competition, Clark's old boat, Cogito, isn't and as and in the hands of Benoits Marie and Morelle currently lies tied in second with Norgador, one of the former Hydros boats from 2013, sailed by Jean Pierre Ziegert de Siebenthal and Arnaud Psarofaghis. was not without issue breaking one of their foils during racing today.

The Canadian student team on Rafale-ETS completed the first race but not the second. Their boat, which the students conceived, designed, engineered and built - with a fair amount of outside help for the complex bits like the wing, the wing controls and the foil controls - looks the part, but in breezy race two some of the frames got destroyed in the front element and rear flaps which are in the process of being fixed. 

18 knots and day one of a Little America's Cup and the first question is 'how many boats made it through?' So losing one is sad (especially as it is the boat of Steve Clark, whose family has done so much for this event over the course of its history), but far from unexpected.

This evening, this afternoon's violent gusts and torrential rain have given way to a perfect sedate dry evening where the reassuring sounds of angle grinders ripping into sheet carbon fibre are sure to be heard late into the night.

Meanwhile for those with even just a casual interest in the Little America's Cup should take note of a definitive work on the subject - the Exceptional History of the Little Cup by Francois Chevalier. On Amazon here. This has been published this year and has put Chevalier's skills as a drawer of boats' hull and rig lines fully to the test with sail plans of every boat that has ever competed for the Little America's Cup in the event's 54 years...  Truly an amazing effort.

From us - preliminary snaps of the new Canadian C-Class cat and Aethon's less than intact wing post 30 knot gust and capsize...





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