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April 2024 fivepointfive magazine showcases growth, boats and personalities of 5.5 Metre Class

by Robert Deaves 27 Apr 07:08 PDT
April 2024 issue of fivepointfive © Robert Deaves

The April 2024 edition of fivepointfive, the magazine of the International 5.5 Metre Class Association has been published.

It contains a wrap up of the 2023 events as well as a diverse range of interviews, profiles and features showcasing all aspects of this very active and healthy class.

It was with great anticipation that the fleet headed back to the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda, in Porto Cervo, Sardinia, for the 2023 Scandinavian Gold Cup, Class Cups and World Championships. These events attracted the largest fleets the class has seen for many years. Nine boats entered for the one boat per country Scandinavian Gold Cup, while an impressive 34 boats entered for the world championship, including six classic boats. Peter Morton's The Jean Genie, with Andrew Palfrey and Ruairidh Scott, retained the historic Scandinavian Gold Cup, while Aspire, with Mateusz Kusznierewicz, Przemyslaw Gacek and Edward Wright, marked the first ever 5.5 Metre title won by a Polish boat. Both events are covered in detail.

This issue also remembers two very influential and successful sailors in the class who passed away during 2023. Former Olympic 5.5 bronze medalist Robin Aisher is remembered with some family memories from his daughters and many photos of his Yeoman 5.5 Metres, especially a series of images from events in Neuchatel in Switzerland in the 1960s. Aisher competed in three Olympic Games, placing sixth in 1960 in Yeoman VII and 11th in 1964 in Yeoman XII, before winning the bronze medal in 1968 in Yeoman XV. He also won the world championship bronze in 1966 and silver in 1967.

Class legend Johan 'Jussi' Gullichsen also left us in 2023 and Eero Lehtinen reflects on his life and successes in the 5.5 Metre both through the former Olympic years and later on after 1986 when he returned to the class. Though he never achieved his ambition of winning the world title he secured second place at the world championship and Scandinavian Gold Cup six times, including winning the Gold Cup in 2012.

Two beautiful Italian classic boats are featured. Kukururu, ITA 6, designed by Arvid Laurin, was the graduation gift given by an engineer's mother to her son, while Manuela V, ITA 36, is a Raymond Hunt design from 1960, commissioned by Beppe Croce, along the lines of the 1960 Olympic Games gold medalist, Minotaur, a very fast project of Hunt specifically designed for the light airs of the Gulf of Naples.

In the Tech Talk feature, Christoph Burger from North Sails looks at sail trim and how to get the best out of the boat. He writes, "Sailing is not without its challenges, and that is precisely what makes it such a rewarding sport. One of the great tests of sailing lies in adapting to different wind conditions. Each wind strength requires a unique blend of skill, strategy, and intuition. Your ability to read the wind, adjust your sails, and steer your boat accordingly becomes a thrilling dance with nature, where your every decision can make the difference between riding the waves or being at their mercy. Having sailed the 5.5 Metre class for over 25 years I would like to try to give you some insight in some of these challenges."

During 2023 the class Inventory page has been overhauled and this website, together with the 5.5 Metre Boatcount has helped to gather information on many boats. It currently shows 394 boats worldwide today - out of over 700 built. The overview shows the basic number of boats per country, its different categories of Modern, Evolution and Classic boats, new boats being built over the years and participation in World Championships. Additional features cover boatyards building 5.5s, the number of designs and information about boats for sale, in the different categories.

As the class looks forward to the 2024 World Championship in Benodet, France, Jean-Bernard Datry looks back at the history of the French fleet. The Yacht Club de l'Odet will be organising the championship for the sixth time.

The thee interview features include Caracole's Bernard Haissly. At the 2023 World Championship, Caracole, SUI 214, sailed by Haissly, Daniel Stampfli and Nicolas Berthoud won the newly instigated Robin Aisher Trophy, for the oldest combined crew age. Caracole has been a regular on the international circuit for 16 years, the team being famous for their light wind lake speed, but also pretty handy in most conditions with a string of titles over the years. Haissly tells the story of how he came to sail 5.5 Metres and teamed up with Daniel and Nicolas.

"We seem to be fast in light air and less in the breeze and the sea. This may be largely due to our heavy age and light weight. Our speed in light air is due to our extensive experience in lake sailing and the work on our sails. We have developed a strong Corinthian spirit about results and yet strive for performance."

Ever since Susanne Struth was a child, she has been attracted by the 5.5 Metre class, and when an opportunity presented itself in 2021 to try out a boat through the German Class Association, she turned up to sail the 2021 German Open on the Wannsee on Pittwater. That led to buying the former Ali Baba, now renamed Löwi, which was refurbished and relaunched in 2023.

"One day I saw the advertisement 'Test it now!' on the German homepage. That was during the corona pandemic and I thought I'd just write an email and see what happened. Only a few weeks later GER 110, Pittwater, arrived at our club in Essen. After a few training sessions, we went to the German Open in Berlin. From the moment we arrived, all the 5.5 sailors were very kind to us. We were really impressed how everyone in the class helped and supported each other. We were also enthusiastic about the different boats. The stunning Classics, the beautiful Evos and the Moderns looking like 'Formula 1' - we found it fascinating that all of these boats belong to the same class and showed the development of boat construction over the years."

Finally, Craig Symonette, from The Bahamas, remembers 5.5 Metre sailing in the 1960s and through to the 1980s, when sailors from the Bahamas became regulars on the global circuit, and offers some thoughts on the future of the class.

In addition there are country reports from most of the fleets worldwide, a summary of the 2023 regatta results, a 2024 calendar of events and 100s of photos.

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