The RS800 European Championships have now come to a close at Fraglia Vela Riva, Lake Garda.
Big Thursday took its toll and although most people put in an appearance in the bar on Thursday night, most had retired home before the small hours.
People were looking fresher come Friday morning, with any of the top eight boats still able to finish second, third and fourth place tied and first place still undecided there were plenty of people feeling the pressure. Stevie Wilson and Alan Sign needed a top 13 result in either of the last two races to secure victory from Dave Hivey and James Barlow in SailingTogs.com who in turn needed to maintain their six point advantage over James Date and Toby Wincer (RWO) and Andy Jeffries and Dan Allin who were tied in third and fourth.
Lake Garda was doing its thing and by the time the first boats reached the race course a warm 12-15knot breeze was funnelling up the lake. Race one got underway and with everyone pushing hard off the start line it was those who were bravest that came out best. At the first windward mark, the top 10 had all the usual faces with RWO leading from SailingTogs.com. Notable exceptions were Stevie and Alan who were languishing back in 20th with Andy Jeffries and Dan Allin not far in front it was looking like there could be some upset to the leader board!
With shifts of over 20 degrees and big holes in the wind appearing under the cliffs racing was becoming ever tenser and those who were able to keep their heads in the boat and eyes out were sure to do well. There was more upset to come as SailingTogs.com had an unfortunate capsize down one of the runs leading to an eventual retirement from the race. RWO capitalised on their improving form over the week to take first place from Nicholas Charles and Christian Humphrey, with Dan Kilsby and Bart Bridgen sailing MarineSuperStore.com in third. Andy and Dan were able to recover slightly from their poor start to finish sixth and Stevie and Alan recovering to finish ninth – their worst result of the week was still enough to secure overall victory and allow Alan time to catch his flight!
With just one point now separating third through to sixth and second place still for the taking, things were starting to get exciting! Conditions were similar for Race 2, although with winds now gusting towards the late teens and oscillating wildly it was particularly tricky to judge which end of the line to start. Andy and Dan were on top of the breeze port tacked the fleet to lead in to the cliffs, however, their fortunes turned as they were caught out by a back eddy in the wind whilst tacking under the cliffs. At the first mark it was RWO in first and Ben Schooling and George Kingsnorth in Contender Sailcloth in a second who opened up a commanding lead with Nick and Christian in third.
There was not much change to the top three for the rest of the race; it was for the remaining places where the real battles were being fought. SailingTogs.com continued their run of bad luck – an altercation with a falling windsurfing leaving them no option than to crash gybe and bail eventually finishing in 12th. Dan and Bart were also down in the pack and fought hard to climb back through to seventh. Andy and Dan spent the first two laps recovering from their poor first beat and made a late charge to overhaul Justin and Emma Deal on the dog leg to the finish and take fourth place.
With all the action on the water, back on shore people had to head straight to the results board to try and figure out where they had finished overall. The most notable winner was RWO who, having dominated the final days racing, climbed from third to second. Andy and Dan did just enough to complete the podium taking third place. Fourth, fifth and sixth were tied on points and positions were decided by count back. SailingTogs.com form early in the week meant they finished fourth with Contender Sailcloth in fifth and MarineSuperStore.com in sixth. First ladies team was Frances Peters and Nicola Groves sailing Alfie who finished 12th overall, an impressive result considering the windy conditions throughout the week.
With no protests to be held, the prize giving followed shortly after sailing, Stevie Wilson entertained the crowd with a witty speech reminding everyone that the next event is Lymington – good preparation for the upcoming Nationals to be held at Hayling Island.