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5.5 Metre Alpen Cup at Fraglia Vela Riva - Day 1

by Robert Deaves 18 Apr 16:49 PDT 18-20 April 2024

The Jean Genie (GBR 43, Peter Morton, Andrew Palfrey, Ruairidh Scott) won two out of three races on the opening day of the 2024 5.5 Metre Alpen Cup, on Thursday, which is being hosted by the first time by Fraglia Vela Riva. It was a bitterly cold day on Lake Garda, but the three races were turned around very fast.

They lead overall from Otto (NOR 69, Bent Christian Wilhelmsen, Lasse Berthelsen, Herve Cunningham) in second after a great performance with three races in the top four, while Girls on Film (GBR 41, Louise Morton, Sam Haines, Andrew Mills) is in third.

The third race was won by New Moon III (BAH 25, Mark Holowesko, Christoph Burger, Peter Vlasov) in a photo finish after the leading three boats crossed the finish line overlapped.

A very strong fleet of 18 International 5.5 Metres is in Riva to challenge for the Alpen Cup, the traditional start of the international circuit. Since its inception it has been run in Torbole, but for this year moved to Riva and the fleet are very much enjoying the town and the club's welcome and hospitality, with a great welcome reception on Wednesday evening on the terrace, and after race hot sandwiches and beer after racing on Thursday.

In the first two races, sailed in 12-16 knots of southerly breeze, Otto got the best out of the first upwind to lead round the top mark, but both times The Jean Genie pushed hard and passed the Norwegian team in the closing stages to take two victories. In the second race, Girls on Film (GBR 41, Louise Morton, Sam Haines, Andrew Mills) also passed Otto to place second.

The third and final was much tighter with less wind. Artemis (NOR 57, Kristian Nergaard, Johan Barne, Trond Solli-Saether) led round from Otto with The Jean Genie mid fleet after a bad start. However, both The Jean Genie and New Moon benefitted from the right-hand gate mark as the wind went left slightly on the second beat. New Moon moved into the lead and looked to be extending, but both Artemis and The Jean Genie pulled up right behind her and the three boats crossed the finish overlapped with just inches in it at the gun.

Peter Morton on The Jean Genie, said, "It was a great Lake Garda day, but it was cold. We had a nice breeze from 12 up to 16 knots and nice flat fresh water and as usual it was head for the cliffs. We had quite good speed today so we managed to be there at the top mark in the first two races, which we won, and then in the last race we got properly kippered up at the start and had to dig our way back and from being very deep on the first beat. We ended up third by literally inches, which was a good end to the day for us.

The top three boats are all British built. Otto is Morton's former boat that won the world championship in 2022, both boats being David Hollom designs, while Girls on Film is a Quigley design, but all three were built in Cowes in the UK.

Morton continued, "The old boat GBR 42, which is now NOR 69, went very well today with a 2,3,4 and Louise went very well in the other newish boat. The British boats are a little bit different to the Swiss boats but that's what we wanted them to do, and I think when the breeze is up they have got a little bit more stability and they are longer so they can stretch their legs more, and that's what we've seen in the previous regattas. They are not great in lake conditions, but fortunately today we had Lake Garda conditions, so we had some breeze."

Mark Holowesko, from New Moon, commented, "Conditions were good. We had a good steady breeze that picked up in a bit in the second race and died a bit and turned left a bit in the third race. Typical Garda, relatively flat, good wind, a little shifty and gusty but nice conditions.

"For us the racing was a bit frustrating. We got boxed in on the first race quite badly at the start, so we were coming back all race. In the second and third, particularly the third, we had good starts. But I think we made a mistake on the last leg of the third race not putting the hammer down once we had a clear lead and just going for speed, so we made it a lot closer than it should have been in the last race. It was very close."

Racing continues until Saturday 20 April.

Results after Day 1: (three races)

1 The Jean Genie (GBR 43, Peter Morton, Andrew Palfrey, Ruairidh Scott) 5pts
2 Otto (NOR 69, Bent Christian Wilhelmsen, Lasse Berthelsen, Herve Cunningham) 9pts
3 Girls on Film (GBR 41, Louise Morton, Sam Haines, Andrew Mills) 12pts
4 New Moon III (BAH 25, Mark Holowesko, Christoph Burger, Peter Vlasov) 13pts
5 Artemis (NOR 57, Kristian Nergaard, Johan Barne, Trond Solli-Saether) 16pts

Full gallery available here.

Full results available here.

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