Monaco Swan One Design, the good outweighs the not so good
Saturday, April 13, 2019 8:27 AM
Day three of the Monaco Swan One Design, hosted by the Yacht Club de Monaco, delivered two races of strikingly different conditions. The consistent 10 – 12 knots from the southwest in the first was in stark contrast to the decreasing, rapidly shifting, breeze in the second. What was unchanged between the two contests was the proximity of competition across the three classes. Mark roundings were tight, leads fiercely defended, mistakes costly and victories hard fought. At the end of the day, the leaders in class are: Leonardo Ferragamo’s ClubSwan 50 Cuordileone (ITA), Luis Senis’ Swan 45 Porron IX and Lorenzo Mondo’s ClubSwan 42 Far Star. And, in The Nations Trophy contest, Italy remains firmly in control.
Today’s individual race winners were Andrea Masi’s Ulika (ITA) and August Schram’s Stella Maris (AUT) in ClubSwan 50. In Swan 45 and ClubSwan 42, the respective class leaders – Porron IX and Far Star - scored double bullets.
The first race of the day appeared to catch some off guard. Skorpios seemed to have nailed the start at the pin end only to find themselves over early, having to return and re-cross. In the ensuing game of catch up, early gains were thrown away on the final leg, with the Russian crew – winners of the first race of the regatta - finishing last.
Equally, Cuordileone, Stella Maris and Mathilde (Switzerland) initially looked behind the curve, virtually stuck the wrong side of the Committee Boat when the gun went for the start. It is to the credit and commitment of the crews, and the talents of their tacticians, in turn, Ken Read, Nico Delle Karth and Iker Martinez, that all three extricated themselves and were, respectively, third, fourth and fifth at the end.
Ulika and Stefan Heidenreich’s OneGroup (Germany), with Jochen Schumann on tactics, had the best of the start hitting the line at speed at the mid-point. OneGroup held an early advantage, only to lose it permanently at the first downwind mark as Ulika performed an audacious duck inside as both headed to the left-hand gate mark. Ulika would go on to win by 30 seconds.
For Ariane Mainemare, Principal Race Officer of The Nations Trophy Mediterranean League 2019, what looked like being a straight-forward day in the office, soon became a much tougher proposition. “The first race was quite easy with stable conditions. The second one was looking OK, but suddenly clouds started building from the north. The first nasty problem was the rain, which never normally helps the wind. The strength started to go down. We were able to shorten the course for the 45s and 42s, but the 50s were already heading downwind.” With the leaders approaching the finish line, the Race Committee decided to complete the race, despite the wind turning sharply towards the north. “It was not the cleanest decision to make,” admitted Mainemare, “But it was the one we took and, in the circumstances and after time to consider, it was certainly the least messy.”
The main beneficiary of the swing in the wind was Stella Maris, as Schram was quick to assert. “The second race was really shifty and we were a bit lucky. Initially we wanted to go out onto right side on the last downwind, then we wanted to go back into the middle, but were forced back out. In the end, we were able to head straight to the finish line.” It was a remarkable finish to watch. Skorpios and Ulika, out in front on the left, looked to have the first two places in the bag, but the closer they got to the finish the worse their position looked. The changing wind angle pushed them further and further off the direct course and when they eventually turned towards the finish they came to virtual standstills as the wind capriciously disappeared. All the two crews could do was watch in despair as their hard-gained positions dissolved as, first, Stella Maris and, then, Cuordileone crossed the line at speed in completely different breeze. At least their problems were not of their making. Mathilde was leading the race after the first downwind leg, but missed a course change announcement upwind, dropping from the lead to last.
Schram is a newcomer to The Nations Trophy Mediterranean League this year, and is thoroughly enjoying the experience and opportunity to improve in competition conditions: “We were very happy about the first race, with the regular wind and we are slowly getting where we want to be with the crew and the boat-handling,” advised Schram. “It is all still very new to us, but today we saw very good communication, good decisions and good boat speed. As for the event, it is very well-organised and we are very happy to here.”
Defending world champions, Porron IX are proving a tough nut to crack for the others in the class. Even so, the spirits are high among the other crews. Ange Transparent came in off the water with two second-places. Owner, Valter Pizzoli, a resident of Monaco, is appreciating racing on home waters despite the difficult conditions: “I am happy to be racing here, especially since I live in Monaco. It’s a beautiful place, the organisation is great and the ambiance is perfect. Unfortunately, the weather is terrible! I’m enjoying the racing. Our Spanish opposition, Porron IX, is very fast but we are more or less the same.”
Pizzoli’s tactician, Flavio Grassi, is also finding the challenge to his liking. “Today we had two difficult races. In the second one the wind died completely and the Committee shortened the race because there wasn’t enough wind to finish the regular course,” he explained. “The racing is very tight between all the Swan 45s. It’s fun and difficult at the same time. We are very happy with the competition because the boats are all one-design and go at the same speed. It’s high level racing and the organisation is very good and knowledgable to enable us to race in the conditions.”
Lorenzo Mondo’s crew on Far Star have also proved unbeatable in class so far this event. Tactician Branko Brcin rejected the suggestion they were making it look easy. “No, no, no!” retorted Brcin. “It is by no means easy. Especially the last race. Tricky does not describe it. Changing winds, rain, nothing was easy.”
According to Brcin, it is concentration that can make the difference in these moments. “If you think you think about being on the final leg, it’s OK. However, if you start thinking you are better than the others then you will go slower and slower,” he explains. “You must always push and press, because you never know. The other guys are also good. So, concentrate right until the finish. This is important.”
When the wind starting to drop significantly on the second upwind leg, Brcin and his crewmates had to watch their competition sail towards them in better pressure. “We just crossed the line in front by, maybe, five seconds,” said Brcin. “It was incredible. For a tactician, it is scary to watch yourself lose, lose, lose and the others gain. You must stay calm. You cannot control the wind. By the finish the wind was almost stopped and like an elastic band the others came to us. We were just able to tack and cross the line in front.”
Tomorrow, is, as the saying goes, another day. Everyone will be thinking positively about more consistent winds to close out the 2019 Monaco Swan One Design on a high.
This evening, though, is a moment for the owners and guests to relax and enjoy the impressive ambiance of the Aquarama Riva Bar, on the upper deck of the Yacht Club de Monaco, on the occasion of the Owners Dinner courtesy of Banor. An international wealth management group focused on ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) factors, Banor is among the signatories of the United Nations-supported Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) with the aim of fostering a greater awareness of sustainability.
Racing at the Monaco Swan One Design concludes tomorrow, 13 April, with the first signal scheduled for 11.00 CEST.