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Upffront 2020 Foredeck Club SW LEADERBOARD

Aegean 600 day 4: High-speed sprint to the finish

by Offshore Racing Congress 8 Jul 2021 12:58 PDT 4-10 July 2021

The teams coming into the finish at Cape Sounio today in Day 4 of the Aegean 600 spoke of strong breeze-on conditions last night and today on their final approach to the Attican coast. The famous Aegean Meltemi delivered northwesterly winds at 20 to 40 knots in the final several hours of the race, which at beam reaching angles made for exhilarating high-speed sailing last night and through the daylight hours as well. This breeze is expected to persist through tonight and tomorrow as well.

At 20:00 local time, 8 teams had crossed the finish line, with the next finisher 22 miles out making their last island rounding at the north end of Kea. In the total fleet of 39 teams, 23 remain on the course racing for the finish, while several had dropped out at various stages on the course. In fact, the skipper of one of these teams - Christopher Slaney on the Pogo 36 Infinity from Germany - said when they realized they had incorrectly rounded Paximadi in the confusion of light air there a couple days ago, they opted to retire from the race but go cruising among the nearby islands!

This was never an option for the laser-focused Scandinavian team on Peter Gustafson's J/111 Blur, who did well to complete the course in just under exactly four days, spending most of the race among competitors 2-3 meters longer, taller and more stable than their 36-feet in length. With much of the race being moderate to fresh reaching, Blur's second overall finish in ORC scoring speaks well for their effort, as does their well-deserved win in ORC Division 2. In IRC scoring they were 4th overall and 2nd in IRC 2.

Gustafson explained that this was a tough but very satisfying race, where almost every leg had its unique challenge of variable weather conditions that required complete focus, whether it was working the zephyrs in light air or reefing and unreefing in the fresh Meltemi. His team of 9 was configured to take advantage of this, with fresh talent in the helmsmen and trimmers always able to shift gears as the conditions changed.

"We spent months studying the weather on this race course," he said, "and were surprised at just how the conditions changed at every turn in the course. It was like every island has its own weather system with local effects. Regardless, this was a great race and we're really glad we came to do it."

Borja Pella, skipper of Placido Arango's Swan 65 Libelula from Spain, said the same: "This was a fantastic race, it was not easy but great sailing conditions and unlike most any other race we have done. We will definitely come back next year."

Gustafson today joined veteran race analyst Dobbs Davis from Seahorse Magazine in today's Day Four race analysis video available here.

Progress of the entries, predicted wind strength and direction, and estimated standings in ORC and IRC scoring can be tracked using the YB tracker website at yb.tl/aegean6002021, or on their companion YB app. Photos, videos (like at bit.ly/AEGEAN600-AIOLIA showing high-speed reaching on Spyros Papantoniou's J/11S Ailoia) and official results are available on the event website at aegean600.com.

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