Pindar with Andy Richards at the helm, leads the European 18ft Skiff Grand Prix after just one race was completed on Lake Garda Friday. The central European weather systems played havoc with the usually predictable thermal breezes of the Italian Lakes for the 17 Teams from seven countries who have turned up to this opening event of the circuit.
As the teams arrived at the dinghy park on Friday morning, they were greeted by a 20-25 knot Northerly, with little sunshine in the sky. This was gradient wind which was forecast to stay for the day, so No2 rigs were the weapon of choice by the whole fleet. However as it came to launching time, it was clear the wind was dying and becoming marginal for the small rigs. Most of the fleet continued to go afloat, while Ronstan was the only team to try and squeeze in a rig change to the No1 before the starting gun.
The fleet got away to a tidy first start, and with the wind being strongest in the centre of the lake, and hence the right of the course, most of the fleet tacked off early. However it was PICA, helmed for this event by rising UK 49er star Dave Evans, crewed by Simon Hiscocks and Stewart Mears, who came into the top mark leading, having hung on to the left a little more before tacking and getting the benefit of a long lifting tack.
They were closely followed by Investec helmed by Mason Woodworth, and Pindar with Andy Richards at the helm, last years European Grand Prix champions. There was still enough breeze for a three wire blast down to the leeward mark, but with the wind dropping it proved to be a more tactical one with Pindar moving up to first when Investec fluffed their kite take down, and PICA and sailed too far to the right of the course and out of the wind.
Pindar went onto to round the next top mark holding off Investec, who then promptly tipped it in on the bear away letting PICA up through into the second. A quick recovery by Investec just kept them ahead of the Danish Bodotex team, and Ronstan scything through the fleet with their big rig on, managing to get up to 5th place even though they started a few minutes late.
The rest of the fleet struggled into the finish in the dying breeze, with the race officer then signalling to everyone to get ashore quickly ... a phone call from the other side of the mountains correctly predicted a thunderstorm with rain and 40 knot winds which luckily hit the fleet after everyone had got safely to shore. End of racing for that day.
Saturday is forecast for similar conditions, while Sunday is hoped will clear up to give traditional Garda breezes and sunshine. 18ft Skiff - Leading results after Day 1: 1 race
1. Pindar (GBR) 1pt
2. PICA (GBR) 2pts
3. Investec (GBR) 3pts
4. Bodotex (DEN) 4pts
5. Ronstan (GBR) 5pts
6. Liberty Sailing Team (HUN) 6pts
7. GP Covers (DEN) 7pts
8. Gill / Wild Graphics (GBR) 8pts
9. Sons of a Beach (GER) 9pts
10. Remember (GER) 10pts