The last of week of July will see the largest RS Eurocup to date take place at Riva del Garda – with the entry capped at just over two hundred boats. Competitor’s thoughts are turning to blasting downwind in 25kts, whiling away the evenings with mates in Bar Ocha, a long morning lie-in before the wind kicks in, fine Italian cuisine – it can only be Garda!
At seventy two boats, the RS800 class will be the largest fleet. In fact, this makes it most RS800s ever on a start line and reflects the high level of enthusiasm in the class. For those who haven’t been to Garda before, the place is a Mecca for sailing. If it the breeze (known as the 'Ora') plays ball, it fills in each day like clockwork at around 1pm and builds to 20-30kts funnelling down between the steep sided cliffs. The RS800 loves Garda with its all-round performance and ability to revel in strong winds.
So who’s in the running this time?
Well the obvious favourites would be Pete Barton and Roz Allen who dominated the fleet in 2006, wining 7 out of the 8 races. Perhaps a brand new baby will have effected Pete’s build –up!
The Eastbourne boys of Andy Jeffries and Dave Pike, 2nd and 3rd respectively in ’06 always go well in the breeze, with the waves also second nature to them.
Ex 49er teams of Ben McGrane & Olivier Vidal and John Pink & Johny Clegg will also be a force to be reckoned with – all talented sailors keen to make a mark in the RS800 class.
So far this season the heavy weights Ian Martin/Adam Broughton (Magic Marine) have been pushing hard in the breeze, so Garda should be up their street. While Justin Deal and Ollie Page (Fat Face) have won two Fat Face circuit events this year so have their tails right up for it.
Former RS400 top guns Tom Halhead and Christian Humphrey must have realised the benefits of trapezing upwind and are competing this year in an 800 – it’s only a matter of time before they hit the headlines.
But to be honest there are a whole host of good teams who could do pull it out the bag if they get it right for the week – racing will be intense all through the fleet.
After some feedback last time the plan is to run two separate courses on either side of the lake, hiking boats on one and trapezing on the other. The fleets will alternate between sides of the lake, with the 800’s on the windier right for 3 of the 5 days! A wider likely variety of conditions should also intensify the competition.
The event of the season is just round the corner. If you’re going for the first time, remember to help each other out with launching and recovering. The RS classes are usually good at dinghy park etiquette - it’s going to be a tight squeeze and require good organisation to launch and recover over two hundred boats. Can’t wait . . . . look forward to seeing you all there.