Open De Espana - Strong start for Black Swan Racing

Keith Swinton, Olof Lundgren, Jakob Gustafsson, Ricky McGarvie and Ted Hackney. - 2012 Alpari World Match Racing Tour Card Holders
There has been another fantastic Grade 1 victory for Black Swan Racing after a hard fought week in Calpe, Spain at the Open De Espana 2012. This is our third consecutive ISAF Grade 1 victory after last year’s wins in Chicago and Berlin. It’s a big achievement for the team and marks a strong start to our year on the Alpari World Match Racing Tour.

Following a difficult regatta the previous week in nearby Javea, where we failed to make the semi-finals at the Grade 2 event we knew it would be important to make a good start in Calpe. We managed this winning eight from nine races to top the round robin stage. We had some tight races which included some penalties but we managed to come out on top in most occasions, giving us confidence for the remainder of the event.

In the quarter final stage we raced fellow tour card holder Simone Ferrarese of Italy. In light conditions similar to what we encountered in the round robin, we took a 2-0 lead. Ferrarese won the third race, but after starting behind we pushed him the whole way. We’re grouped in the fourth race and totally controlled the match to progress to the semi-final.

The semi-final series proved to be very tough against Josh Junior from New Zealand, winner of the 2012 Warren Jones Youth Regatta. Junior won the first race after a split from the start line. Unfortunately, we lost a large margin from the split and were unable to get back into the match. We sailed much better in the second match, leading off the line and sailing around the course to level the series. It was nice to end the day 1-1 and go into the last day with a level chance of making the final.

The final day was marked with a big change from the lighter conditions of earlier in the event. Frontal winds up to 25 knots and large seas would prove to be another test of skill. We continued our semi-final against Junior with a win in the third race. Our starts continued to be strong and we lead from start to finish in the strong conditions. The large waves made the downwind legs the most challenging especially against Junior, one of the world’s best young laser sailors. Big gains and losses were made by catching waves and finding more breeze.

Another win would see us progress to the final, although we came off the start line behind in the next race we managed to sail a great last downwind and pass Junior near the finish. With around 50m to the line we looked to have the race won but Junior managed to catch the perfect wave, pushing him through the line ahead. Despite this disappointment we put together a fantastic fifth start leading off the line, making our choices around the course much easier. We kept our lead and progressed to the final.

Making it to another final was fantastic but there was still plenty of racing to go. Our opponent a familiar foe, Pierre Antoine Morvan of France had just come from 2-0 down to defeat fellow tour card holder Bjorn Hansen 3-2. Another epic final against the French followed. We raced the first three races in lighter winds and big seas which was certainly difficult.

We won the first but lost the second; in the third we won but were given a -.75 point deduction after hitting Morvan in a port and starboard tack incident. The umpires gave Morvan the penalty but judged we could have avoided the damage. At the time we felt making contact was the best way to get the penalty but we didn’t expect such a deduction. This put things back to almost level with scores of 1.25-1.

The wind was now back in at 18-22 knots. We won the next race to get closer to the title but then failed in the fifth race to close it out. Because of the -.75 deduction we had to sail a sixth deciding race. We came off the start behind but kept close enough to attack on the first downwind leg. We worked into a position to roll over Morvan with both boats engaging in a luffing duel. Both boats wiped out in the strong wind but we managed to release our spinnaker halyard, causing contact with the French boat.

They were judged to have not given us room to keep clear and penalised. We knew from this point we had to keep the race close but Morvan managed to eek out enough lead to complete his turn after the top mark. He came out right behind us but we managed to scrape ahead of the starboard tacker. This proved to be the decisive point as we set our spinnaker in better breeze and screamed down to the finish opening out a comfortable lead. A long long day for the team but a great win!

We know have some time off before the first Alpari World Match Racing Tour event in Germany next month.

Black Swan Racing website