Earlybird gets the watch
When we left the Swan 45 fleet in Porto Cervo after yesterday’s race, leader Hendrik Brandis allowed that the top of the leaderboard was still wide open. His words rang true today in the eighth and, what would turn out to be, final race in the Rolex Swan 45 World Championship. The tricky conditions ensured that it was anyone’s race to win or lose.
With the forecast for light winds, the Race Committee struggled to find enough breeze over the whole of a coastal course for the Maxi, Grand Prix and Sparkman & Stephen fleets. After a postponement of over two hours, the race committee signaled AP over A 'No Racing Today' and was postponed for these classes.
By 1325, there was enough localized breeze for the Race Committee to get a start off for the Swan 45 and ClubSwan 42 fleets. The fleets were sent on a 4-leg windward/leeward course of 1.4 nautical miles, in a southeasterly breeze of five knots.
At the start, Nico Poons' Charisma (NED) led from the pin end with Earlybird (GER) a boat length behind and to weather. Jochen Schuemann, tactician on Blue Nights put the Finnish boat on the committee boat end heading off on the opposite tack, which was their strategy for the day’s race.
At the windward mark, it was Jeroboam (ITA) that led Charisma, Samantaga-Duvel (BEL), Earlybird, Blue Nights around (and Checkmate, Talj, Ulika, Better Than), but as the breeze went ever lighter, the tacticians were working overtime to wring some boat speed and foresee where the breeze might be.
On the downwind leg, Blue Nights made big gains on the right side and moved up to second place. At the downwind gate, the race committee signaled a course change to 140 and shortened the leg to 1.0nm as a hedge to finish the race before the breeze dropped off further. At the top mark for the second time, Blue Nights gained enough to round first and held her position to the finish, with Earlybird finishing second and Jeroboam in third.
With the eighth race completed a throw-out was in effect, but did nothing to alter the standings. Earlybird finished on 20.50 points, two points ahead of Tea Ekengren’s Blue Nights. Earlybird won the 2008 Rolex Swan 45 World Championship, but with co-owner Christian Nagel at the helm. Brandis said, “Personally for me is the first time. I have a co-owner and we exchange the helm last time he helmed and I was not part of that so now is my turn and it just feels great.”
Brandis continued, “It was great competition this time. We have been leading throughout the week but our distance (in points) to the others was ‘shrinking’ day after day, so today was really final. I think four boats could’ve still made it today. We were more than glad to keep all of them behind us.
“It wasn’t our conditions today, it was too light; we prefer a little bit stronger, however our performance was good and finally we chose the right side of the downwind, and I think that was the right call.
“We were looking at the three competitors that could make it still so we tried to stay close to them. It was not easy, on the downwind we were forced to gybe away and at the end of the day it turns out to be the right call. I have to be honest it was not even our tactical decision, it was a necessity to gybe out, and that forced us to go to the right side and the right side was the best one, so on the downwind leg we ended up being 50 meters further ahead.”
Blue Nights owner/helm Tea Ekengren was clearly pleased with their second place overall, she said, “We have been working very hard all week and we’ve been on a bit of a learning curve. But the last three days have been just perfect for us. With the light winds we’ve been sailing very patiently, trying to place ourselves in the best spot for the new wind and we succeeded at this.
“That was our tactic yesterday and today to go to the right and it seemed to be a good tactic. We’ve had good boat speed too. We’ve been trying to sail the boat smoothly and keep it very fast. It’s very challenging to concentrate and try to drive in these conditions.
“It’s been an emotional week in many ways, we’re very happy with our position and we worked hard and it feels very good to be second, and we think Earlybird sailed very well and they really deserved their win.
The Swan 42 fleet also managed one race in the light conditions. Paolo Scerni’s Kora 4 (ITA) was first ahead of Long Echo (GBR), Natalia (ROM), Cuor Di Leone (ITA), and Aella (GRE). Overall Kora 4 leads at 7.0 points ahead of Cuor di Leone on 12.50 pts.
The Rolex Swan 45 World Championship prizegiving will take tonight at the Rolex Crew Party at Cala Granu. The winner will be presented with the Swan 45 Gold Cup and a Rolex Submariner timepiece.
The ClubSwan 42, Maxi, Grand Prix, and Sparkman & Stephens classes will conclude racing tomorrow at the Rolex Swan Cup. Their prize-giving will be tomorrow Sunday 19 September following racing at the YC Costa Smeralda’s Piazza Azzurra.
ROLEX SWAN 45 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP - FINAL RESULTS (PROVISIONAL)
Place, Boat, Skipper, Races 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8, Total Points
1) EARLYBIRD (GER), Hendrik Brandis, 1-2-5-5-1-4.5-(6)-2, 20.5 points
2) BLUE NIGHTS (FIN), TEA Ekengren-Saurèn, (8)-6-2-4-6-1-2-1, 22.50
3) SAMANTAGA-DUVEL (BEL), Phillipe Moorgat/Patrick Van Henr, (6)-3-3-3-4-3-5-4, 25.0
4) CHARISMA (NED), Nico Poons, 3-4-1-1-(5)-9-3-5, 26.00
5) JEROBOAM CA’NOVA (ITA), Vittorio Codecasa, (7)-7-6-2-3-6-1-3, 28.00
6) TALJ (ITA), Vittorio Ruggero, 4-5-4-6-2-10.5-(9)-9, 40.5
7) ULIKA (ITA), Andrea Masi, 2-1-(8)-7-8-12-7-6, 43.00
8) CHECKMATE (NED), Peter de Ridder, 5-8-(9)-8-9-7.5-8-7, 52.5
9) BETTER THAN-R-SIX TEAM (USA), Andrzej Rojek, (9)-9-7-9-7-13.5-4-8, 57.5
ROLEX SWAN CUP - PROVISIONAL STANDINGS
Place, Boat, Nation, Skipper, Race 1-2-3, Total Points
Maxi - Class A
1) DSK Pioneer Investment (ITA), Danilo Salsi, 3-1-5, 9.0 points
2) EMMA (GER), Johann Killinger, 1-4-7, 12.0
3) MYSTERY, Amadoo Int.Corporation, 4-2-6, 12.0
Grand Prix - Class B
1) SILVEREN SWAEN (NED), P.H.J. Bakker, 2-1-1, 4.0 points
2) CLEM (ESP), Amanda Hartley, 1-3-4, 8.0
3) CRILIA (GER), Heinz-Gerd Stein, 3-2-5, 10.0
Classics - Class C
1) MONSOON JAGUAR (GBR), Peter Simon, 1-1-3, 5.0 points
2) SHIRLAF (ITA), Giuseppe Puttini, 2-2-1, 5.0
3) DREAM (ITA), Francesco Persio, 3-3-7, 13.0
Place, Boat, Skipper, Races 1-2-3-4-5-6, Total Points
Swan 42 - Class E
1) KORA 4 (ITA), Enrico Scerni, 1-1-1-(2)-3-1, 7.0 points
2) CUOR DI LEONE (ITA), Leonardo Ferragamo, (4)-4-2-1-1.5-4, 12.5
3) NATALIA (ROM), Kdf Energy Romania, 2-2-(3)-3-6-3, 16.0