The longer it goes on, the closer the battles get on the Longtze European Tour. The teams have evolved and, despite the difficult weather conditions of this 56th Light Vessel Race, the winner was not decided until the conclusion of the very last race.
“You must not let anything slip, ever”, explains Kaller, “it’s so close on the water that you have to be constantly on attack! We had good speed, that helped us, but the differences were tiny. The current was very strong and we had to do really long tacks to combat the incoming tide, to have a little more speed was interesting…”
Team coordination plays an equally key role: “ I have been in Eckhard’s team since the Grand Prix de l’Ecole Navale, which was held in Brest last June, and we are starting to really know each other well. The instinctual responses come back very quickly at the beginning of each event. Cohesion is good and, when the boats are neck and neck as was the case here, this counts for a lot” comments Samy Villeneuve.
This victory stands the Swiss team in good stead, and sees them climbing to second place in the overall results, just 1 point behind the Kone Monospace team. And as the concluding stage of the Longtze European Tour is due to take place in German Switzerland, on Eckhard’s home turf of Lake Constance, a stretch of water he knows by heart, “ …it is an undeniable advantage !”, recognises the German skipper. “The wind is often light and unstable there and, the lake isn’t very big, so you also have to deal with that…It is going to be a great regatta! We are really happy to welcome all the teams there, we are going to do everything possible to make it a fantastic final!”
The Light Vessel Race has been tough for the ten teams competing in the Longtze Premier. On Friday the wind was too fierce and not a single race could be held. The next day the breeze started to blow in the afternoon, allowing the race committee to launch two starts in a solid 20-25 knots… Sunday was the best day of the competition with sunshine, with the wind averaging a good 14 to 18 knots and with a strong current.
All the racers are in agreement that this has been the most physical stage of the Longtze European Tour 2009. That did not stop the team led by Arthur Le Vaillant ( Kone Maxispace) from producing some very good rounds. “Even if it doesn’t really show in the ranking, certain teams, like Arthur’s, have made enormous progress”, confirms Lufthansa skipper, Luc Gellusseau, “ It’s always more passionate on the water and it’s very encouraging for the rest of the series!”
Also noteworthy was the performance of the two newcomers on the circuit: German sailor Florian Drtina (9th), and the local of this stage, Patrick Demesmaeker, who finished 7th. Both had to discover the Longtze Premier in stiff breeze and current…and they enjoyed it!