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It's neck & neck in the final push for Hempel Mixed Two Person Offshore

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Nastro Rosa Tour
Nastro Rosa Tour

There wasn't much wind to launch the Figaro 3 fleet away from Marina di Ravenna on Friday afternoon, which is why the start was delayed until 1300 hours. The 10 boats representing eight nations started upwind in a soft easterly breeze and no one was able to find the boatspeed edge. Everyone has learned these boats on the way around Italy, and most go-faster secrets have now been shared across the fleet.

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An oil-drilling platform serves as the first and only turning mark in the course between Marina di Ravenna and the finish in Venice, so it's a straightforward two-sides-of-a-triangle course. But getting there could be anything but straightforward, as the Adriatic Sea has rarely played fair or predictably over the past week or so. Skill, but luck too, will play a role in the outcome of this leg.

The race organisers have also elevated the scoring co-efficient of Leg 3 to a factor 0.42, which reduces the advantage held by current overall leaders, ITA1 Team ENIT (Claudia Rossi & Pietro D'Alì) who were fourth in Leg 1 and second in Leg 2. They hold the top of the leaderboard with Team Belgium (Sophia Faguet & Jonas Gerckens) their closest rivals in second overall. Also in with a shot at the world title are ITA2 Marina Militare (Giovanna Valsecchi / Andrea Pendibene) in third overall and Team South Africa (Michaela Robinson / Siyanda Vato) in fourth.

At 1900 hours on Friday evening the fleet were neatly lined up along a north-south axis with Team USA Orcas the most northerly boat and Team ESP the most southerly. At that point there was little more than a mile between first and last, but with the breeze due to shift to the south later in the evening, it could be Team ESP's Aina Bauzà & Guillermo Altadill, who will be first to benefit from the breeze rotation. They proved canny winners of Leg 1 but came up short in Leg 2 when the Spanish could only manage seventh place. Consistency is proving very hard to find on the Adriatic.

For the young South Africans, Michaela Robinson and Siyanda Vato will be pushing hard for the podium. "The top guys are definitely going to be showing more aggression [on the final leg]," said Robinson. "But, you know, we're also here to play. So it's going to be an interesting battle."

Robinson's not-so-secret weapon is her mother, Gill, who provides shore support for the crew in any way that she can. She's impressed with just how friendly the competition has been between the nations. "When I saw everyone helping each other get off the boats, I just thought, there's just so much camaraderie here. It's such amazing, close racing between the boats on Leg 2. It was just riveting. We'll probably see the same again on the final leg."

Awaiting the competitors at the finish in Venice is a lavish reception by the Marina Militare, Italy's Navy, which will welcome the tired sailors into the Arsenale di Venezia. Almost a thousand years old, the Venetian Arsenal is a complex of former shipyards and armouries which formed the basis of the Venetian republic's mighty naval power from the late Middle Ages to the early modern period. The Venetian finish line awaits to see which of the 10 teams will carve out their own piece of maritime history when they become winners of the first ever Hempel Mixed Two Person Offshore World Championship.

There are ten teams from eight nations competing in this inaugural World Championship. Part of the 2021 Marina Militare Nastro Rosa Tour which has already seen the Figaro 3 fleet navigate the western seaboard of Italy, the 2021 Hempel Mixed Two Person Offshore World Championship is an 816nm race that is being played out across three stunning stages along the Adriatic coast:

Leg 1: Brindisi to Bari
Leg 2: Bari to Marina di Ravenna
Leg 3: Marina di Ravenna to Venice

There are teams representing Italy, Belgium, USA, South Africa, Great Britain, Spain, Sweden and Poland.

The event concludes at the end of Leg 3 in Venice on 24 September, when the first ever winners of the 2021 Hempel Mixed Two Person Offshore World Championship will stand on the podium in one of Italy's most beautiful cities.
 

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