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5.5 Metre Class make welcome return to Hankø for world titles

by Robert Deaves 25 Jun 05:20 PDT 27 June - 5 July 2022
2020 World Championship © Robert Deaves

After an absence of 13 years, the 5.5 Metre Class is making a welcome return to Hankø Yacht Club in Norway for its Scandinavian Gold Cup, Class Cups and World Championship from June 27 to July 5.

Hankø is an iconic and traditional venue for the class having hosted the class on 16 previous occasions since 1953. It is steeped in the heritage of the class with a history of many famous battles for these prestigious trophies over the years.

Originally due to be held here in 2021, the events were postponed a year due to Covid and will take place as part of the 2022 Grundig Hankø Race Week.

The Scandinavian Gold Cup runs from July 27-30 with just one boat representing each county, plus the holder. The rules are unique in sailing, with only race wins counting and the first to three wins in the winner. Furthermore, any boat that has not won a race after three races is eliminated. Therefore it could all be over in three races, or could be stretched to a maximum of seven races.

Kristian Norgaard's Artemis team have won the last three editions and will definitely be the one to beat, however New Moon II (BAH 24, Modern, Mark Holowesko, Christoph Burger, Peter Vlasov) will surely make a strong challenge. Peter Morton's new Jean Genie will also be one to watch, even though he has been unable to attend, the boat will be sailed by Laser ace Elliot Hanson along with Andrew Palfrey and Sam Haines. This boat won the Alpen Cup earlier this year with consummate ease, so it will be interesting to see it perform. Also missing will be the Polish team on Aspire, who had to pull out due to crew injury.

In parallel with this the Class Cups for Classics and Evolutions will be sailed before the World Championship begins on July 1.

Nergaard has won the world title the last two times it was held and holds the record for the most titles in the class, but with 24 boats on the line it will be a tough challenge to claim it for the third time in a row.

He commented, "Generally there are good wind conditions. It's on the open sea, but we do get some offshore which is more shifty. There is a variety of currents, not usually very strong, but at times can be strong and then, but generally great conditions. It's also a nice scenic place to be at the Hankø Yacht Club is very traditional. It's like when you are on the island, you have no other place to go. It's the yacht club or the hotel. And that's it.

"There has been sailing a long time in Hankø but since the yacht club was established it has served as a place for the sailors to be. The 5.5 has really been the class present with international sailing so it's great to see them back in Hankø.

"It's great that we are probably going to have around 25 boats, with about 20 moderns, which is a record in a long time. We have four Australians coming which is fantastic. We are also going to see Mark Tolhurst back, who won the worlds there in with his dad in 1976, so there's a lot of tradition to it and it should be a good event."

Mark Holowlesko, skipper on New Moon II will be racing in Hankø for the first tme in 43 years. The New Moon team won the World Championship in 2018, but have yet to take the Scandinavian Gold Cup.

"I first sailed in Hanko when I was 19 when I was a bowman. I've done some training there since but I haven't raced in Hanko since, so 43 years ago.

There's a fantastic heritage there and we've got a really good turnout with the Australians coming and a good fleet of moderns. It's a fantastic place, a lot of history. Last time I raced there, the King of Norway and Bobby Symonette were sailing so it brings back a lot of good memories."

The first race of the Scandinavian Gold Cup is scheduled for the afternoon of Monday 27 June.

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