39 Copa del Rey MAPFRE offers opportunities and renewed options
Wednesday, August 4, 2021 8:01 PM
Palma, August 4, 2021. In the ClubSwan 50 division Marcus Brennecke's Hatari have not scored any lower than fourth over the first six races that comprise the Preliminary series and have built a sizeable 19pt margin over the second placed Bronenosec 50, which has Vasco Vascotto as tactician, but the system means the German flagged leaders of the 16 boat fleet enter the six race Finals with a margin of 1pt over the Russian boat which will be one further point ahead of Sonke Meier-Sawatzki's NiRaMo.
Hatari, the current ClubSwan 50 World Champions have a strong, star studded line up led by Marcus Wieser and have already shown all the speed, slick crew work and consistent tactics which have mapped them out as the most likely winners in a class which is proving notoriously hard to retain a level of regular results. While Hatari have managed themselves well so far, Vascotto and the Bronenosec 50 crew went 12,1 today so the 1,2,1 run of Spain's double Olympic medallist Iker Martinez run on Ulika was suddenly halted by a 14th in the second of today's two races.
While the ClubSwan remains a heady mix of seasoned professionals, Olympic medallists, America's Cup and Volvo Ocean Race winners there are also clearly opportunities for good amateurs to progress quickly to a high level. And young female sailors are well to the fore on two of the top three Clubswan 50s.
Twenty-five years old Polina Lyubomirova (RUS) is steering Bronenosec 50 for all of this season and – whisper it – aspires to steer her father's TP52 of the same name in a future 52 Super Series. And on third placed NiRaMo, Kiel owner Sonke Meier-Sawatzki has thirty years old Lena Weisskichel in the hot seat as a first time navigator. The former Laser Radial and 49erFX racer, who was well into a double handed offshore programme before the IOC decided otherwise, is on a steep learning curve but has seized this opportunity with both hands and is clearly doing an excellent job.
"You have to have a lot of self confidence and say what you think." Says Weisskichel, "It is going great. I had a lot of help and knowledge from the old navigator who was here on the training days, Marcel Korte, and that was great. It is such a steep learning curve but the team are quite patient when I make small mistakes when you are still learning. But it is so cool to be learning from guys like this is this kind of environment. I am not coming from big teams. We came second in the first race yesterday and that felt great because there are so many more people cheering that when you are on your own or in a skiff."
The young German sailor has South African Mark Sadler as a solid, dependable tactician while Lyubomirova has the sparky Vascotto looking after her. She enthuses, "I have been on the Swan 60 before and the RC44 doing different jobs but this is my first season steering. Before I was doing everything like braiding the spinnakers and the runners. I want to believe that my steering is getting better and it is reflected in where you are in the fleet. If you are doing it well then you can be somewhere up the front of the fleet, if you are not steering well because you have something else on your mind then you are behind. It is key but the guys have to perform well too. This is my first time sailing with Vasco and it is amazing. He is a great teacher, very wise but with a lot of emotion which he uses well. I think that brings up a good result, there is an excitement with very precise targets. It is impressive, not many tacticians are like this."
Meantime Vascotto is loving life back in the grand prix fleets after two and a half years on America's Cup duty with Luna Rossa-Prada Pirelli. Reflecting on their 14,1 today Vascotto said,
"We are very much in the learning process as a crew. It is obvious that sometimes you will have some bad moments, and for me it is not easy as I have not, of course, been sailing for two and a half years. Yes I have watched a lot of America's Cup boats foiling around the sea but I have not actually been sailing really and so it is great to be back doing what I love. I am so lucky. I have missed this, this is a good life and I am so lucky to have this programme with this 50 and the TP52."
Andy Soriano's Alegre have also built a decent lead in the hotly contested IRC class, although in the second race today they corrected out as winners by just one second ahead of Gerard Logel's well sailed arobas, a regular visitor to this regatta from Saint Tropez, while third positioned Freccia Rossa was only four seconds back on corrected time.
Nic Asher of the 2017 Class winners Alegre explained, "It was shifty and puffy and that made both of today's races quite difficult. The wind dropped and then filled in on the last run and the guys caught us up a little bit and in the end, as you will see, it was quite close, we won that last one by just one second and it was four seconds to third. This regatta has been really good for everyone, all the TP52s, we are having good racing and it is nice for the others to be able to get a bit of a benchmark where they all are. It has been good racing."
The Alegre team are big fans of the Copa del Rey, as Asher reflects, "We enjoy this regatta a lot, it is Palma after all and there is sun, wind, a great city and great racing. We are still undecided about the format. It is tough if anything goes wrong now as it really penalises you with no discards. But this is what we sign up to."
In the ClubSwan 36 fleet the Gold Cup winners G Spot remain the form team, Giangiacomo Serena's crew going 2,2 today to ensure they lead into the Finals in the ten boat class. Last year's winners in the ClubSwan 42 fleet Natalia effectively gain a bonus point as leaders into the Finals as they are tied on aggregate points with Nadir.
At the midpoint of the BMW ORC Class 1 regatta King Felipe of Spain is nicely positioned in second place on the original 2005 TP52 Aifos 500 which effectively sees their 2.5pts deficit to the leading Swan 45 reduced to just one point.
Aifos' Alberto Barovier concluded "We did very well considering in the first race we did a very bad start and so we had to work hard to recover and in the end we did better than we expected with ffith which was a good result considering where we started out and then in the second race we were second and so we are second overall. The boat is much the same as in the beginning has not had much done to it, the hull has been refreshed and there are some new sails, but the difficulty is that the mast and the rig and the sails are not like the new boats' ones and so we have to sail accordingly. But now have found a good balance and it is going well."
The 39 Copa del Rey MAPFRE Final Series starts tomorrow at 1300hrs, local time.