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Allen 2017 A4866XB

18ft Skiff European Grand Prix Round 1 at Ammersee, Germany

by Steve McLean on 9 May 28-30 April 2017

Two UK boats made the 750-mile trip to Lake Ammersee, a beautiful lake at the foothills of German Alps for Round 1 of the European tour joining teams from Hungary, Denmark and 5 teams from Germany.

Day 1

The Red Bull fuelled drive and some exuberance at the bar on arrival resulted in something of a big night for the UK teams with a 4am finish, so rigging the next day was somewhat slow. Fortunately, the lack of wind saved the UK teams bacon on day 1 and after a day of sitting around exchanging stories of big bear-aways with big rigs with other European teams, the RO called it a day at 5pm with an announcement that racing would commence at 9am the next day.

Day 2

The UK teams arrived the next day again somewhat bleary eyed at 10 to find the entire fleet rigged and ready to go to calls of "you were serious about that 9am start!?" and something of a frantic rig up by the Brits. Again, the lack of wind saved the UK boats bacon for the second time that weekend.

Around midday the wind finally made an appearance and 5 races were sailed in near perfect conditions with all teams mostly fully powered up and 3 stringing with big rigs that were universally adopted by the fleet.

The 5 races saw 4 different winners with GER22 Euro link showing the most surprising form capsizing in the first three races while young gun stand in helm Tom Martin found his feet in the boat. When he did get in the groove, he went on to post 2 bullets in the last 2 races.

However, It was Graham Bridle and the 2 Ed's (Bridle and Gibbons) on ChameleonI who had the most consistent day, with a string of podium finishes. The found their mojo with their big "tree trunk" single spreader rig to emerge as top of the first day leader board, 2 points ahead of European champions on Team Hungary.

Day 3

Day 3 dawned to a much more ominous forecast and building breeze with much debate about which rig to use. The top European teams from day 1 decisively made the call to "go big or go home" and so the decision was made for the rest of the fleet.

As it transpired the wind did lighten for the first two races and the big rig was a good call. The third race was a different storey altogether though and the race started in a good 20 knots with bigger gusts and the top mark turned in to something of a skiff graveyard with all teams struggling to pull away and some spectacular pitch-poles.

On the last day, it was the Hungarians who showed a return to form treating spectators and a number of capsized 18's to a a masterclass in handling the big rig well up range and showing us yet again how they are worthy European champions when only three boats managed to finish.

Having posted two podium finishes in the first two races and looking good for the top spot, the UK team on ChameleonI had to settle for second place overall after capsizing on the pull away and Graham Bridle swallowing his pride and deciding to "war around" at the bottom rather than risk a gybe. Heinrich von Bayern, AKA the prince of Bavaria, just pipped the rapidly improving Euro link to 3rd place.

Yours truly sailing with Scott Bonner and Alasdair York on LED Low Energy Design had our moments posting a bullet in race 3 and a second in race 7. However, the new team were given a lengthy list of things to improve on for the next regatta by the quality fleet.

The European Tour now moves on to Hungary for a 4-day event 18-21 May where we expect to be joined by a third UK team. This event is then followed by the European championships in Lake Garda early July where the European fleet of 12 or so boats will be joined by a star studied cast of 6 boats form Australia, 4 boats form New Zealand, Howie Hamlins Team USA and Jarod Simpsons brand new boat which will certainly be a force to be reckoned with.

25 top 18' skiffs at the windy end of Lake Garda will certainly be sorting the men form the boys and promises to be the best European event in many years.

Overall Results:

PosSail NoTeamR1R2R3R4R5R6R7R8
1HUN 18Be Light31(5)(5)2411
2GBR 91ChameleonI2232(4)33(DNF)
3GER 05 15(6)4(7)143
4GER 22Eurolink(8)(8)811252
5DEN 01Original Chia534335(6)(OCS)
6GBR 43Low Energy Design461(8)562(DNF)
7GER 33Magic Marine74278(DNC)(DNC)DNC
8GER 06 67766(DNC)(DNC)DNC

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