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The Nations Trophy 2019 Day 3

by Nautor's Swan 12 Oct 01:58 PDT 8-12 October 2019

After two, marginal light wind days, blue skies over the Bay of Palma on Friday turned up the heat and turned on the breeze that makes this such a renowned racing arena. In turn the action in the Swan One Design fleet hotted up, with a day of drama as fortunes twisted and turned over the course of three races. Boats of the day were Skorpios (Dmitry Rybolovlev, RUS) in ClubSwan 50, Blue Nights (Tea Ekengren-Sauren, FIN) in Swan 45, Mela (Andrea Rossi, ITA) in ClubSwan 42 and Thirty-Six (Riccardo Ferragamo, ITA) in ClubSwan 36. In battle for top country, and The Nations Trophy, Italy leads Germany by one point, with Russia only a further point behind.

In terms of the class standings, Skorpios's score line of 1,3,1 thrust them into the lead by four points from Ross Warburton's Perhonen (GBR), whose day started well (2nd place), tailed off in the middle (9) and, by their standards thus far, ended badly (12). In Swan 45, Blue Nights now heads the class from Motions (NED) and Porron IX (ESP) tied and one point behind. Mela continues to lead in ClubSwan 42, with Far Star (ITA) in second. Thirty-Six sits atop ClubSwan 36, one point ahead of Sease (Pier Luigi Loro Piana, ITA)

It was a day of spectacular racing conditions, dampened only by two unfortunate collisions in ClubSwan 50. One in the second race led to the retirement of Drifter Sail (ITA) and Regina 2.0 (SWE). The other, in the third race, led to the withdrawal of Tenaz (ESP) and Team Kolff/Boersma (NED).

With one day remaining and up to three races possible, none of the classes are yet decided. As the owners enjoyed the hospitality of the Owners Dinner hosted at Es Baluard Museo de Arte Moderno by Banor Capital, crews were resting up and preparing for an intense final day.

ClubSwan 50

Rudyard Kipling's poem "If" was written for days like Friday. One man, who along with his crew, kept his head was Fernando Echávarri, Olympic gold medallist, former Rolex World Sailor of the Year and tactician of Skorpios. "Every result in mid top position is good in this fleet," said Echávarri with a rye smile, referring to the third place in the second race. "It is very easy to end up in the last positions. It is a challenge every race. The teams are very competitive and we had a very good day." Pressed to give away the secret for success, Echávarri considered a good start essential, but added that a good set-up and the consequential speed this brings were crucial too.

"We made very good starts, we were fast and the owner was driving really well," said Echávarri. "The first thing is to have a good start, and today we had three very good starts. But you need to be fast and we found a good set up for this medium-light breeze. We have worked hard throughout the season, and been fortunate that most of the races have been in these conditions."

"We go into tomorrow in a good position," admitted Echávarri. "But anything can happen. If we can get a good position in the first race, we can see what is possible. Nothing is done yet. If we get the starts like we did today, with good spots and no one pressuring us too much, we'll be comfortable. Today we were able to develop our speed to gain position. If we don't, we will be in the battle like yesterday and could make a bad score. We need to concentrate, keep working and see what happens.

Sönke Meier Sawatski's Niramo (GER), with Bouwe Bekking in the tactician's role, was another boat on a charge on Friday, posting 3, 6, 3 to move into third position overall, 10 points off the lead. Having picked up 18 points on Perhonen over three races, Skorpios are wise to be taking nothing for granted.

Swan 45

The only female helm in the Swan 45 class and one of three across the whole event, Tea Ekengren-Sauren was entitled to a smile of satisfaction as she stepped ashore. Blue Nights exceptional score line has pushed the Finnish team into first place overall, one point ahead of the defending world champions, Porron IX, who are tied with Motions. Fever (GER) lies in fourth, with Michelle (ESP), the early class leader, on 15 points and absolutely still in the fight. Saturday promises much.

"It was perfect weather, especially compared to Finland at this time of year!" Ekengren-Sauren laughed. "All the Swan 45s are so tight, so I really enjoyed the racing particularly because we had a good day. It's easy to feel good about it."

The successful run was born of commitment, hard work and practice. "We have practised a lot and our crew work is really good now. We have good speed upwind, especially. We weren't doing anything mysterious, we just worked really hard," she explained. "The starts were really important. It is really hard to get a good race if you mistime the start. You might be lucky with a shift, but really it is best to start well and we had three good starts."

It does not end after the start, as Ekengren-Sauren explained: "It was hard to hold position. Often, we were leading and still having to fight. In the last race, we lost first place by a second. That is not a good feeling, but in one design racing the positions are changing all the time." Whatever, she is looking forward to the final day: "It will be really exciting, and more wind is good for us!"

ClubSwan 42

While Mela was pulling away into a five-point lead ahead of Lorenzo Mondo's Far Star, Jose Maria Meseguer's Pez de Abril (ESP) was proving the mix of fortune so possible in one design competition. An 11 in the first race, after being penalised by the jury on the run to the finish, was followed up with a bullet and a third.

"The first race was difficult, but we had a good start in the second which paid a lot, and we managed to sail in the right part of the course," explained Meseguer. "We were not so good at the beginning in the third race, but we managed to gain a few positions rounding the marks."

"It was a tight fight, but we enjoyed it a lot. It was good racing today," advised Meseguer. "We were disappointed because we were leading the race that was abandoned yesterday. This happens, in this class sometimes you are the front and sometimes down the back. Let's hope that tomorrow we have the same as today."

Meseguer is another finding the racing exciting: "Wherever you finish in the fleet there is always a couple of boats around no more than two metres away. It is really tough. It is very sportive, though, and people are playing very fair and clean, so it is very enjoyable.

As for the start, Meseguer agreed that a clean start helps set up a good race. "Fortunately, the line is long because we are using the same line as the 50s," he said. "If you want trouble you can find it, but if you want to risk a few metres at the start you can. Getting to the windward mark first is important, but it is very tight downwind and a small wind shift can really favour your opponents even if they are a few yards away." All things considered, Meseguer is really looking forward to the final day.

At the convivial Owners Dinner, hosted by regatta partner Banor Capital, with wines from Ferrari Trento and held in the historic surroundings of the Es Baluard Museum, the event sustainability advisors Marevivo presented three, new special ambassadorships, "Cavalieri del Mare", to Theresa Zabell, founder of Fundacion Ecomar; Andy Bianchedi, the owner of Drifter Sail and long-time supporter of Marevivo; and, Leonardo Ferragamo, President of Nautor's Swan.

Racing at The Nations Trophy 2019 ends on Saturday, 12 October. A maximum of nine races will be sailed with no discard. The participating nations are Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Finland, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Romania, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and United Kingdom. The inaugural Nations Trophy, held in 2017, was won by Spain through the efforts of Swan 45 Porron IX and ClubSwan 42 Nadir. Both are here again, but will have their work cut out to defend the title.

To follow the racing, live race tracking by Trac Trac is available here.

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