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5.5 Metre World Championship at Yacht Club Costa Smeralda, Porto Cervo - Day 1

by Robert Deaves 25 Sep 2023 21:06 PDT 25-29 September 2023

After winning the Scandinavian Gold Cup here on Sunday, on Monday The Jean Genie (GBR 43, Peter Morton, Andrew Palfrey, Ruairadh Scott) showed the fleet a clean pair of heels to win the first two races of the 2023 5.5 Metre World Championship at the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda, Porto Cervo, Sardinia.

Aspire (POL 17, Mateusz Kusznierewicz, Przemyslaw Gacek, Edward Wright) is in second overnight with Artemis (NOR 57, Kristian Nergaard, Johan Barne, Trond Solli-Saether) in third. 34 boats from 10 nations are taking part and racing continues to Friday.

The opening day brought some fantastic conditions with moderate winds of 15-18 knots. 25 degrees, sunshine, blue skies, big waves and a lot of surfing. It doesn't get much better. There were 5.5 Metres taking to the air everywhere.

Aspire had the better of the first upwind, matching The Jean Genie for speed and rounding the top mark 2-3 boatlengths ahead, with Artemis in third. They were neck and neck down the run but then chose opposite gates and this gate The Jean Genie a break, which they capitalised on to move in front and then extend on the final downwind. Aspire crossed second with Artemis in third.

The Jean Genie again got a great start in Race 2 and was soon extending on the fleet. This time she was never headed and sailed away for a big win, with great downwind speed in the awkward waves. Aspire was again second, but there was a big tussle between the Norwegians for third with Otto (NOR 69, Bent Christian Wilhelmsen, Lasse Berthelsen, Herve Cunningham) eventually crossing third from Artemis. Otto, of course, is the original The Jean Genie, Morton's old boat that won the world championship last year.

Andrew Palfrey commented, "It was a really tough day, actually. The sea state was forecasted to be twice as big as yesterday, and even yesterday was quite challenging. And it proved to be correct. So, the waves played a significant role in today's performance. They were also a bit out of alignment with the wind, which made starboard tack particularly tricky. We were pleased to see that there was a bit of wind forecast for today, in the mid-teens and that prediction held true. The racetrack was tricky, very fair, and offered some good opportunities for wind shifts.

"We had some wind shifts, and it wasn't biased by the land today, as it often is in a westerly or north-westerly wind. Our day started well with two very nice starts, which made life a lot easier. The boat was performing well, but it was still a challenging day. I think everyone had moments of excellent performance today, as well as some not-so-good moments. We certainly found ourselves in that category. However, when our performance was good enough, we felt confident downwind.

"The team was really sailing well together, with excellent communication and solid decision-making, which stemmed from effective communication. So, overall, it was a good day. It's still early days in the event, but we're happy to come back with a couple of decent results, and we'll continue from here."

Nergaard said, "We had a challenging start in the first race. We managed to free ourselves up and started working on the shifts. It was quite shifty out there, with shifts of up to about 20 degrees. We played those shifts right and found ourselves third around the top mark in the first race. We did well downwind, surfing the waves. In the second race, we had a decent start on the left side of the line but had to navigate our way through the fleet by playing the shifts.

"The downwind leg was a bit skewed, so we had to gybe around the mark. Those who jibed early had an advantage, sailing a shorter distance. Coming up the second upwind leg in the second race, we were once again playing the shifts well and were ahead of some of the boats, but they were simply faster than us. They had a longer waterline and did a good job catching up, so we ended up in fourth place.

"We were quite pleased with how the day went. It was a beautiful day here in Sardinia, with winds around 14 to 16 knots, more or less. All in all, we're quite happy with a third and a fourth today, and we're looking forward to tomorrow."

In the Evolution fleet, the beautiful Criollo (GER 30, Andreas Christiansen, Felix Christiansen, Moritz Christiansen) is in 21st overall, from last week's winner Joker (FRA 50, Adrien Polaillon, Eric Polaillon, Jean-Baptiste Polaillon) in 24, while the first Classic boat is again Cibele (ITA 72, Fabrizio Cavazza, Vittorio Zaoli, Duccio Colombi) in 22nd.

Racing in Porto Cervo continues Tuesday and runs through until Friday.

Results after Day 1: (top ten, 2 races)

1 The Jean Genie (GBR 43, Peter Morton, Andrew Palfrey, Ruairadh Scott) 2pts
2 Aspire (POL 17, Mateusz Kusznierewicz, Przemyslaw Gacek, Edward Wright) 4pts
3 Artemis (NOR 57, Kristian Nergaard, Johan Barne, Trond Solli-Saether) 7pts
4 John B (BAH 26, Gavin McKinney, Mathias Dahlman, Lars Horn Johannessen) 10pts
5 Otto (NOR 69, Bent Christian Wilhelmsen, Lasse Berthelsen, Herve Cunningham) 12pts
6 Ku-Ring-Gai III (AUS 66, John Bacon, James Mayjor, Terry Wetton) 12pts
7 New Moon III (BAH 25, Mark Holowesko, Christoph Burger, Peter Vlasov) 14pts
8 Manly (AUS 44, Marc Ryan, Dave Edwards, Marcus Burke) 14pts
9 Girls On Film (GBR 41, Louise Morton, Andrew Mills, Sam Haines) 15pts
10 Beta Crucis (AUS 63, Bob Stoddard, Martin Cross, Simon Reffold) 21pts

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