The closing event on the Dutch RS500 calendar was the Magic Marine South European Championships held from October 12 -14 in Genoa, Italy. A fleet of seventeen RS500's competed for the title of South European Champion.
Six Dutch boats would make the trip down south. And by that I mean just the boats, because Richard Rot/Marieke Gijzel and Corinne van Dalen/Giel Blokker were so kind to drive all the way with two big trailers from Aquavitesse and Sail24.nl. The rest of us could just fly in. Such luxury! So, the first thank you is to them!
We all arrived at the club (Circolo Nautico Ugo Costaguta) in the afternoon on Thursday in time to rig. There was a nice northerly breeze so a few boats couldn't resist and just had to go out. This included Jon Partridge and his latest Dutch secret weapon, Hilde van Susante. They got the feel for each other pretty quick!
Races started on Friday at one o'clock, but everyone was a lot earlier and very excited what the day would bring. Here we got first proof of the hospitality of the sailing club. There was pizza bread and drinks before we would launch, but also wine and beer. What were they playing at.....? Some people didn't mind at all and were glad they could get the edge off.
The two races of the day were in very light conditions on a long course. The lighter teams had an advantage here. The heavier teams had to do damage control. In sixth overall Van Susante/Van Alphen were the best Dutch team with a nice eighth and fifth place. Mix nationality team Partridge/Van Susante were just above them on fifth overall. The top of the leaderboard was dominated by the Italians, with Bucciarelli/Tropiano in first place.
On Saturday the first start was planned at 11 o'clock. The Dutch teams requested to start one hour later, so they could have a Dutch party evening. There was one notice on the board. Start would be at 10 o'clock. One hour earlier!! It had nothing to do with language barriers, the race committee just wanted to get the maximum out of the forecasted early wind. And windy it would be....
The next morning wind was between 15 and 20-something knots from the north and offshore. Time to go survival mode. Especially around the top mark - just under the coast, wind could go from nothing to strong puffs in under a heartbeat. Shifts of 20 degrees were not uncommon. This made it really hard for the crews to keep the boat flat. The spreader mark was on a reach with the gennaker, if you would not be hit by a puff. Teams Blomsma/De Jager and Partridge/Van Susante proved best, finishing first and second well ahead of the other teams.
The winds dropped a little after this and the race committee managed to get three more races in. With good results from a very strong Italian team Abergo/Costini, making them first overall after day two. Shortly followed by Italians Bucciarelli/Tropiano and Dutch Blomsma/De Jager. A special mention I have to make for the team Van Leeuwen/Beeks. It was Vivianne Beeks first competition ever and having sailed the RS500 only once or twice before, it showed real character to finish all four races that day.
Since weather conditions were unreliable, the evening BBQ was moved indoors, to a very nice restaurant, where everyone was treated with some good Italian cooking. Afterwards we rolled to the car and still managed to get seven people in a Fiat Punto.
Sunday the wind had shifted 180 degrees to the south. It wasn't strong, but there was some serious chop and the waves were already starting to break on the shore. The race committee wanted to go out first, to see if it would be safe. Meanwhile we enjoyed the view of a huge waterspout dropping down from some passing bad weather. We got a briefing on how we would launch and had to come back. One hour later we got three simple words: Boats in water.
Boats would be completely ready on the beach, then five volunteers would pick your whole boat up over their heads and walk into the break. The crew and helm jump in the boat, while the volunteers would already have your rudder down. A final push and you're off! This was awesome! And another very BIG thank you, goes out to (Super) Mario and his team of volunteers.
The first race was difficult. Not so much for the wind, because it was not strong. But seeing where the puffs were on big chop and not having much pressure in your rig while going over the chop proved a challenge. Again, one the Italian teams had no problem in tackling.
After that first race the wind started to shift to the south west and the fleet had to wait. The skies cleared and the wind increased to about 10-12 knots. Champagne sailing in the Mediterranean!
The committee really wanted to get another race in before the shore break would become too big. So they started with the course not completely straight and after a general recall, the fleet was off. This time individual recall flag went up, no one returned. The course had a short port tack and a long starboard tack. If you would have been slightly windward, you would have agreed that the sight was beautiful seeing all the RS500's racing to the top mark under the sun. Every team doing their utmost best for one thing, boat speed!
After two laps it was done. No more races. Everyone wanted to continue in the beautiful conditions, but we still had to land in the ever increasing shore break and the committee rightfully made their decision.
But how did it go? Who was OCS and were there still some protests? (Italians love them.)
Time to go ashore. You could come in, one at a time, preferably with your main sail down. You made a cross, held on for dear life and surfed the waves in. The same volunteer team would be waiting to pick up your boat, with you in it if you weren't fast enough, lift you out of the water and put it on the trolley. Only to run off for the next boat, that was in the process of crash-landing.
Again a big thank you for the sailing club and all the volunteers!!
Results. Partridge/Van Susante and Blomsma/De Jager were OCS and therefore lost their chances for a top three place. So it was all Italian coach Federico Maccari's boys and girl that made top three. Abergo/Costini did not give away their leading position and went home as South European champions. Bucciarelli/Tropiano stayed second and Bozano/Dellepiane came in third. The last will have to learn about protest turns in the future though, or they will grow poor for all the beers they have to buy.
It was a great event, which was hosted in the nicest way by Circolo Nautico Ugo Costaguta and all the volunteers. Congratulations to all the prize winners and I hope we will go back to Italy for some more racing.
Next up. The French Open Skiff Easter regatta on Lac du Der in the champagne region. If that's not champagne sailing, then I don't know.
1st Luca Abergo
2nd Filippo Bucciarelli
3rd Francesco Bozano
4th Maria Filippo Maccari
5th Jon Patridge
6th Marleen Blomsma
7th Luca Carlini
8th Susante van Villemijn
9th Andrea Ainovi
10th Richard Rot
11th Francesco Ghio
12th Giacomo Quarenghi
13th Sander Vogelaar
14th Simone Bonavita
15th Corinne van Dalen
16th Frank van Leeuwen
17th Camilla Angiolini
by Debbie Darling
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2:56 PM Mon 22 Oct 2012GMT
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