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5.5 Metre fleet heads back to Porto Cervo for Scandinavian Gold Cup and 5.5 Metre World Championship

by Robert Deaves 18 Sep 2023 09:42 PDT 20-24 September 2023
The Jean Genie on Garda in April © Robert Deaves

The International 5.5 Metre fleet is heading to Porto Cervo and the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda this week for 10 days of championship racing, including the 2023 Scandinavian Gold Cup and 5.5 Metre World Championship.

The event has attracted the largest fleets the class has seen for many years, including many sailing the events for the first time.

Nine boats are entered for the one boat per country Scandinavian Gold Cup, which runs from 20-24 September, while an impressive 34 boats have entered for the world championship, which runs from 24-29 September.

The Scandinavian Gold Cup is one of the oldest and most prestigious trophies in the sport of sailing, having been first sailed for in 1919 and awarded to the 5.5 Metre class since 1953. This year the entry list is one of the strongest in years with multiple winner Artemis (NOR 57, Kristian Nergaard, Johan Barne, Trond Solli Seather) up against Aspire (POL 17 Mateusz Kusznierewicz, Przemyslaw Gacek Edward Wright), New Moon III (BAH 25 Mark Holowesko, Christoph Burger Peter Vlasov) and the defenders The Jean Genie (GBR 43 Peter Morton, Andrew Palfrey, Ruairadh Scott).

In the Scandinavian Gold Cup, only race wins count. The unique format involves all non-race winners being excluded after the third race, so the event can be over in three races, or take seven races. It is very hard to win.

It will be the first time Aspire has sailed Scandinavian Gold Cup and World Championship. They won the European Championship in 2020 but pulled out of the world titles last year due to injury. In contrast, while Peter Morton's Jean Genie won both events in 2022 in Hankø, Norway, he was unable to sail. This year he is back with another new boat, from the same design and will be a serious challenger if the conditions are as expected. While most of the fleet are using the Swiss built Wilke hulls, Morton developed a new shape with the designer, Dave Hollom, and in 2022, in anything over 12 knots the boat was clearly faster. That boat is now being sailed as Otto (NOR 69, Bent Christian Wilhelmsen, Lasse Berthelsen, Herve Cunningham).

The world championship has attracted 34 entries from 10 countries, the largest entry since 2016. It is the second time the championship has been sailed in Porto Cervo, after 1984. The fleet includes six former world champions and will be one of the toughest for many years.

Alongside the main events, there are also a number of Evolution and Classic 5.5 Metres racing for the Class Cups. In parallel with the Scandinavian Gold Cup, the Evolutions will race for the Hankø Evolution Cup, while the Classics will race for the Royal Kaag Classic Cup. For the world championship, all boats race together and it's very encouraging to see five Evolutions and six Classics taking part, again the highest number of entries for these events for many years.

The events open on 20 September, with the Scandinavian Gold Cup racing beginning on 21 September. Racing for the world championship begins on 25 September with a 10 race series.

More information at 5.5class.org

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