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Gazprom Swan 60 World Championship - Bronenosec secures second victory

by Jessica Francis on 15 Aug 2014
Bronenosec and the Gazprom Youth Sailing Challenge in close competition at the Gazprom Swan 60 World Championship. Nautor's Swan/Carlo Borlenghi
Defending Champions, Bronenosec (RUS) representing Saint Petersburg Yacht Club and sponsored by Gazprom, have secured a second victory in the 2014 Gazprom Swan 60 World Championship. Held in conjunction with the 33 Copa del Rey Mapfre, the event provided the best racing conditions so far on the 2014 Gazprom Swan 60 circuit interspersed with Spanish royalty and stylish social occasions.

A debut for the Swan 60s racing as a class in the Mediterranean, seven boats from a variety of nationalities competed including China, new on the circuit for 2014; Russia, now with Bronenosec as a double World Champion; Denmark, sailing as a crew since 2010; and Germany, a seasoned circuit competitor with their German Offshore Challenger team. Bronenosec was the only Swan 60 to maintain an exemplary series across the 10 races, dominating the fleet in both the lighter winds on the Bahia de Palma and stronger breezes peaking just over 20 knots on the final day.

After productive training in Palma’s outstanding sunshine, Bronenosec and the Gazprom Youth Sailing Challenge stamped their mark at the top of the first day’s scoreboard. There was an intensive start to the Championship with the fierce competition sparking four general recalls before race two was underway. The young contenders on-board Gazprom Youth Sailing Challenge showed their maturity in race two with a clean start from the pin, as they watched Bronenosec (RUS), Windward (CHN), Spirit of Europe (BVI) and Petite Flamme (RUS) return to re-start. Denis Shari, Trimmer for the Gazprom Youth Sailing Challenge commented, 'We spent 10 days training very hard which produced a really good result. The main tactic we used was to have the best start of the fleet with the ultimate boat speed and to be first round the windward mark; we have been practising our starts a lot in training, everything depends on it in a one design fleet like the Gazprom Swan 60 Class and we found our practise really paid off.'

Day two offered lighter conditions and fresh faces at the front of the fleet. Current Star Class World Champion, Robert Stanjek, tactician for the German entry SGM, led the fleet into the first mark engineering a taste of victory for his German Offshore Challenger youth team. 'Overall I am very happy with my young team and I can see a nice development over the course of the racing.' The world class sailor was pipped to the post however, by Dmitry Samohkin‘s Petite Flamme finishing first with Bronenosec yet again ensuring a podium position in third to help build a concrete series. Dmitry has found the competition for this edition especially tough, 'There are so many competitive sailors, fantastic tacticians and helmsmen on-board each Swan 60. We have found everyone is very ambitious and it is difficult to secure yourself a good place.'

A change in discipline to coastal racing across 30nm on day three saw Swan 60 Windward with owner, Mr. Fan take centre stage in the lead at the first mark rounding. The Chinese team showed their true colours maintaining a first position all the way down wind. Bronenosec, always hunting for top position, kept fighting and on the second uphill leg used the innate racing knowledge of 22 times World Champion, Tommaso Chieffi to find pressure on the right hand side of the course and pull out ahead of the fleet. Windward had to take comfort in third place as Spirt of Europe took the opportunity to pass through into second place finishing with the backdrop of the setting sun on the 12th century Cathedral of Santa Maria.

Shifty conditions on the fourth day favoured the Gazprom Youth Sailing Challenge at the start, leading the fleet up the first leg again. Sergey Borodinov, Team Coach, has assisted with the selection process for these talented Russian nationals, 'Overall the youth team are doing great and I can see many of them have a fantastic future of racing ahead.' Their winning grasp weakened over the course of the race allowing Bronenosec and Windward to pull through ahead at the leeward gate. The second race of the day let esteemed yacht racer, Tim Kröger create a stir, with Spirit of Europe taking a well-deserved bullet. Owner driver, Peter Lebrandt racing Vertical Smile claimed fourth jubilantly, his best result of the event, 'The second race was the best race we have had so far; we had a good start, coming out with good speed and finishing fourth. Bronenosec was well ahead but we were enjoying very close racing with the rest of the fleet.'

Day five of the Championship was a pivotal performance for Spirit of Europe (BVI), securing two race wins which rocketed the team up from fourth to second overall in the series. Tim Kröger, Spirit of Europe Boat Captain commented 'It was a wonderful day; with two firsts it couldn’t have been better. Sailing the Gazprom Swan 60 Worlds under the umbrella of the Copa del Rey is fantastic, you can’t have a better event, especially with the Swan 60s, they are so close and it really is one design racing at its best.'

After the eighth race of the series was completed, the Swan 60 teams were able to discard their worst result of the series from their final overall score. While the Chinese team on-board Windward benefited most, being able to drop eight points for their disqualification earlier in the week, Spirit of Europe and Petit Flamme were also both able to drop points from previous races in the event. Mr. Fan owner of Windward explained their change in strategy during the week, 'We were trying to use more of a conservative strategy to get the start we wanted, this paid off as we performed well and I am happy with the result. It is great to take part in our first Gazprom Swan 60 World Championship. In Palma the weather, the other teams, and the organisation are all great and I have really enjoyed it.'

The final day of racing at the Copa del Rey Mapfre saw the postponement flag for the first time for all fleets as the Race Committee waited for the sea breeze. This did not deter the podium potentials who kept focused for their ultimate race. Bronenosec had a sweet overall win with the final race bringing in yet another first, Windward finished in second and Spirit of Europe in third. Positions for the overall prize giving on the second edition of the Gazprom Swan 60 World Championship were unmistakeably similar to the final race, Bronenosec sitting on top with a 12 point lead over runner up Spirit of Europe helmed by Boris Gusev and Mr. Fan’s Windward in third place.

Tommaso Chieffi, tactician for Bronenosec was quick to summarise his second Swan 60 world title win, 'We have been fighting for every point, everyone was very consistent and everything went well from boat speed to tactics to crew handling. The boat performed well but it wasn’t just boat speed it was a combination of everything. We started strong on a high note and from then on we didn’t really feel the pressure of the others catching us. It was a good week.'

In best shape throughout the week, dual world title holder as owner driver of Bronenosec, Vladimir Liubomirov is World Champion for a second consecutive year. His Russian and Italian blended crew won half of the races with five victories. 'Palma has fantastic conditions for sailing, probably some of the best in the world. The Gazprom Swan 60 fleet has a wonderful mix of seasoned America’s Cup, Olympic and Volvo Ocean Race sailors competing alongside us, the one design racing is consistently intense.'

Social events were calm and relaxing in contrast to the high octane activity afloat. The Real Club Nautico Palma hosted the annual white themed Owners Dinner sponsored by the Gazprom Swan 60 Class poolside at the club house on 7 August, a relaxed and elegant evening where the owners set aside their competitive aspirations for an evening to enjoy one another’s company while soaking up the atmosphere amid a unique ambience and backdrop. The Gazprom Swan 60 Owners and their guests also enjoyed an exclusive dinner at Port Blanc the following evening where the successes and stresses of the day’s racing were shared with one another.

The 2014 Gazprom Swan 60 World Championship trophy was presented to Vladimir Liubomirov and his Bronenosec team, including his daughter, by H.R.M King Felipe of Spain in a star studded ceremony.

GS60 WC Results:

Bronenosec (RUS): 1 – 4 – 3 – 1 – 1 – 1 – 2 – 3 – 2 – 1 – Total 15

Spirit of Europe (BVI): 4 – 6 – 6 – 3 – 2 – 6 – 1 – 1 – 1 – 3 – Total 27

Windward (CHN): DSQ – 3 – 4 – 6 – 3 – 2 – 5 – 2 – 3 – 2 – Total 30

Petite Flamme (RUS): 3 – 7 – 1 – 2 – 4 – 5 – 3 – 4 – 6 – 6 – Total 34

Gazprom Youth Sailing Challenge, Tsaar Peter (RUS): 2 – 1 – 5 – 7 – 6 – 3 – 6 – 5 – 7 – 5 – Total 40

German Offshore Challenger, SGM (GER): 6 – 2 – 2 – 4 – 7 – 4 – 7 – DNF – 4 – DNF – Total 44

Vertical Smile (DEN): 5 – 5 – 7 – 5 – 5 – 7 – 4 – 6 – 5 – 4 – Total 46

The third and final event of the 2014 Gazprom Swan 60 circuit will be held in conjunction with the Rolex Swan Cup from the 8 – 14 September at the prestigious Yacht Club Costa Smeralda (YCCS) in Porto Click here to see the Gazprom Swan 60 World Championship Wall of Fame.

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