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2022 WASZP European Games at Mar Menor, Spain Mid-regatta update

by Marc Ablett 15 Apr 23:02 PDT 11-17 April 2022

After a solid week of glamour Mar Menor conditions and a brilliant training camp, sailors were greeted with uncharacteristically light and shifty winds with rain showers. The wind finally settled on a light easterly in the afternoon and the race committee saw the opportunity to get a start off. It was marginal and racing got under way with most boats foiling on the first upwind.

Italian sailor Francesco Bertone found his way through the fleet from a port tack start on the foils and extended to the windward mark. The downwinds saw the typical tough tactical call between trying to stay foiling but sailing huge distances or settling for the direct and much less adventurous low ride, though by the second upwind, boats were foiling again. Bertone led around the leeward gate but fell out of the pressure, leaving Ross Banham to take the lead, a close final downwind saw a tight finish between Bertone and French sailor Hippolyte Gruet. Gruet sailed the more direct route to take the win. That was it for the day as the wind didn't come in sufficiently for any more racing, so the sailors all headed in for Paella, drinks and even some go-karting.

Day two and the forecast was for strong breeze all day, but had started to moderate in time for racing as the fleet took to the water they found themselves in a gusty 8-11 knots but by the time the direction settled, the breeze pumped in at 18-25 knots for the first two races. Some of the familiar Swiss sailors in the fleet made the most of the breezy conditions, with Nick Zeltner and Jann Schuepbach scoring highly. Brit Ross Banham also began to stake his claim on the championship. Race three and the wind moderated to 12-15 knot flat water perfection! Banham, Zeltner and Schuepbach cleaned up the podium.

By the final race of the day had the wind dropping to around 8-11 knots, making pressure king. Paul Farien, silver medallist last year, found some form to take the win having suffered with a UFD in race 1 of the championship. Zeltner leads, Banham second and Schuepbach third. Last year's junior champion Charlie Cullen scored a second in the final race to move up to fourth overall. Francesco Bertone sits in fifth.

There are 7 nations in the top 10 underlining the competitiveness of the European fleeet. Mathilde Robertstad is top female in 16th fresh off a great performance at the SailGP INSPIRE Grand Final. We are expecting light winds for Day three but the remainder of the event is looking solid. Fingers crossed we can return to stable Mar Menor perfection.

This event is setting the scene perfectly for the International Games in Lake Garda 9-16th of July. The best thing about the WASZP is the quality racing all the way down the fleet, everyone is having great personal battles whether in the top 10 or down in 40th. The off water social is a staple of the class and Spain has been no exception, the community is so strong in WASZP, male, female, families, youth, masters it doesn't matter, everyone enjoys being part of the WASZP family.

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