18ft Skiffs on Lake Garda - the story and the carnage so far .....
Thursday 07 June 2012 - By Jack Grogan
2012 18ft Skiff European Championships, Lake Garda, Italy
With perfect Garda conditions on Wednesday the fleet had two more races in 22 knots and more untypical gusts. The Eurolink team (from Germany) showed good speed rounding the top mark as first. During the downwind the Pica (GBR) took over the lead. CST, Hungarians and Hydesails (UK) went right up the 2nd beat and pulled back in to the fleet meanwhile magicmarine (GER) and the GPCovers/OriginalChai (DEN) lost places in the middle. However, Eurolink had an "issue" with a windsurfer at the bottom mark causing Yandoo's skipper John 'woody' Winning to exit his boat via the mainsail leaving them with a Woody size hole to fix before the 2nd race.
At the 2nd top mark rounding Pica had a sizable lead enabling them to play safe downwind with 1 crew off the trapeze to slow the boat down. Back in the fleet the racing was tight with The Black Dog (GBR), CST (USA) and Hyde Sails (UK), who had moved up to 4th after having a bad start.
After playing the middle the remainder of the fleet had bunched up allowing GPCovers/OriginalChai to sneak through Magic Marine along with another German team 'remember the days'.
Places remained the same for the next leg as conditions tested the crews and machinery to the limits. Top 5 were Pica, CST, Black Dog, Hyde sails and Eurolink.
The second race was fired off with only 10 starters of the 18 regatta entrants, following the havoc caused by earlier conditions. The fleet made an easy start with everyone not wanting to do anymore bear-aways than needed. Woody, true to classic skiff form, had patched up the Yandoo mainsail with sticky dacron and was amazingly back at the start with the usual demon boat speed. The people who went into the cliffs got burnt, unusual for Garda! CST tacked out 30 boat lengths early and lead from start to finish with Pica following. The Danes finally showing their Viking credentials by sailing to a comfortable 3rd. Positions further back where being decided by crewing errors and boat maintenance problems. "Remember the days", making a serious shot for first place, snapped their mast just like Hyde Sails in day 1 and had to retire. Magic Marine was also sailing well and should have had a top 5 finish but capsized on the last bear away and managed to salvage a 6th.
Seeing fatigue settle in the race officer sent the fleet ashore to see if the breeze would reduce, but there was no letting-up. The European Class Association organized a fantastic de-brief chaired by Søren Clausen, which helped newer teams learn the ins and outs of these awesome boats whilst the experience was still fresh in the mind!
Results after 11 races
1st Pica 20pts, 2nd CST 25pts, 3rd Yandoo 29pts, 4th The Black Dog 42pts, 5th GP Covers / Original Chai 57 pts
by Jack Grogan (Team Hyde Sails)