ORCi European Championship preview
34 boats from four countries will be on the starting line tomorrow for the first day of the 2010 ORCi European Championship. Competition will run through Sunday, 11 July in the Sardinian waters off Cagliari’s Poetto beach, with the event organised by the Legale Navale Italiano, in collaboration with the Union of Offshore Sailing Italian (UVAI) and the Italian Sailing Federation (FIV) and Offshore Racing Congress (ORC).
In addition to the prizes awarded to the top finishers in two divisions, ORC is also offering an overall Owner/Driver Prize. “For the first time ORC recognizes the importance not just of Corinthian crews, but of those owner/helmsmen and their contribution to the overall performance of their boat,” said Bruno Finzi, Chairman of ORC.
The championship will take place over five days, with a total of nine races scheduled. Seven will be inshore (windward-leeward) race, and two will be sailed over a long course with a length between 75 and 90 miles: the first half will be scored as one race, and the second over the full course length, with each worth 1.5 points and the long race unavailable for discard. Only one race can be discarded if all nine races are completed in the format.
All races are scheduled to start at 1100 local time, and the boats are divided into two groups depending on the size, with the title of European Champion awarded to the winner of the two groups.
The Race Committee is chaired by Sandro Ricetto (ITA), and the International Jury is headed by Zoran Grubisa (CRO).
There is a high level of competitive pedigree among the boats berthed at the venue’s wharf. These include Alvarosky (ITA), fresh off winning the ORC National Championship of the Tyrrhenian Sea, with her aggressive and flashy graphics; Bohemian Express (CZE), who continues to dominate the race scene in the Adriatic; Coconut (ITA), among the winners at the last Naval Academy trophy; and the new Comet 50 Verve Dahlia TV (ITA) with Lorenzo Bodini at the helm and America’s Cup tactician Francesco de Angelis.
Other notable teams include the Grand Soleil 42 MAN with Tommaso Chieffi, and Saphira, the First 50 skippered by America's Cup helmsman Paolo Cian. There is also the Comet 45 Us One Night with GP42 tactician Gabriele Bruni, the N/M 43 Nautilus Waves, and winner of the Riva di Traiano Winter Series Trajan with Mauro Pelaschier on tactics.
What do the competitors expect for the event?
“I expect a medium light wind between 10-15 knots all week, which could help here,” said Francesco Mongelli, tactician on Fral 2. “There are not many opponents here, but all are definitely well-qualified, so we just have to get out on the water and see where we stand. The long race with 3 points in a single course will play an important role in the rankings, because it cannot be discarded.”
“We came from the World Championship win last year [in Brindisi] and so we are racing against the same opponents in search of revenge,” said Giorgio Grassi at the helm of the M37 Low Noise. “We hope for good racing and the wind to assist us, though we are of all similar speed so it will be a tough week.”
“With this boat we won the Winter Series in Riva di Traiano and Tropheo Academia della Navale,” said Mauro Pelaschier, tactician on Nautilus Wave. “So here we feel competitive, though there are many boats we do not know and will be able to evaluate after the first races. On board we made only small adjustments and minor corrections to the rating to gain a few seconds / mile, plus a few new sails. The location here is very central, well connected to the city and is very beautiful. There is also life after racing, right?”
“We are a very united group,” said Zennaro Henry, helmsman on MAN, “and all friends, so we think this team spirit is our strength. On board with us as tactician is Tommaso Chieffi, with Sandro Montefusco as the mainsail trimmer and sail designer. Richard Bartholomew, the owner of MAN, comes in Cagliari with a crew entirely made up of seasoned professionals and very well together as a team. The boat has not done many races this year but is still absolutely the Italian offshore sailing champion of 2009.”