by Al Hall
In the RS100 Euro Grand Prix, a fleet of ten RS100s - two from the UK, one from France, one from Switzerland and six from Italy set out on a beautiful force 3/4 from the north into the bay at Genoa ready for an epic day’s sailing. Sadly, five minutes before the five minute gun the wind died and 45 minutes later set in as a thermal from the south west as a force two.
Al Hall took advantage of the pin end and established a healthy lead at the windward mark followed by Mark Cotgrove and Oscar Quarenghi in his 10.2 rig. Downwind was all about picking the gusts (what gusts). Michel Rotach showed good speed and got past Quarenghi whilst Hall and Cotgrove held their positions until the finish.
Race two and the wind was playing hard ball decreasing to around five knots. Cotgrove established an early lead at the windward mark and wasn't threatened until the final beat of a one hour twenty minute race. Hall and Rotach closed to within two boat lengths and in the process of launching the kite Cotgrove over zealously pulled his cleat out of the hull. Hall took advantage and quickly established a lead covering Cotgrove to the finish. Meanwhile Rotach headed left and when the wind filled in he was perfectly placed to take advantage and squeezed into first place at the leeward mark to win by three boat lengths.
At the end of day one Hall leads, Cotgrove second and Rotach separated by just two points.
Day two greeted the fleet with a gusty and shifty force four occasional five from the north, directly off the mountains. On the promise the night before from Chris Cunningham that he would show everyone his transom if the wind blew we watched in horror as he and Tobias Claudius (aka Micheal Schumacher) collided on the start line after Claudius attempted an unlikely port tack start. Al Hall took advantage of the mayhem to lead at the windward mark. Downwind was all about finding the wind lanes and Hall faltered with a capsize on the gybe allowing Cunningham through to take the lead which he comfortably held to the finish, with Hall second and Cotgrove third.
For the second race of the day Claudius managed to take Hall out on the start line and Cunningham and Cotgrove duelled over two laps with places changing regularly in the shifty breeze. Boat handling let down Cotgrove with a quick swim or two and even Cunningham was blown over on the short shreader leg. He recovered quickly and was still in the lead when his boat was once again upright. On the final beat with the windward mark set close to the beach it was anyone's guess as to which side was favoured but Cunningham guessed right when it mattered easing to a comfortable win with Hall coming through to second and Mario Dullia in third.
With the race committee keen to catch up after losing a race on day one, race three of the day quickly followed as the breeze eased to a more manageable force 3. Cunningham led from start to finish in what was becoming a Chairman's master class. Cotgrove sailed consistently for an easy second with Hall recovering to third after a minor collision with a jury boat which resulted in a capsize.
With the wind easing and holes appearing on the race course the fourth race of the day went to Cunningham with Hall closely behind and Cotgrove and Michel Rotach duelling for the third. Eventually a boat length separated them with Cotgrove edging ahead. So ended a Cunningham day with four firsts recorded.
Going into the final day Cunningham and Hall are tied on nine points with Cotgrove and Rotach close behind. Overall Cunningham has the edge on countback with his four firsts.