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Gill 2017 728x90

18ft Skiff European Championship at Lake Garda - Overall

by Tom Hill 19 Jul 2017 17:35 BST 3-8 July 2017

Five British boats made the annual pilgrimage to the North end of Lake Garda to battle it out for the title of European champions. Whilst in previous years, the UK boats have been creeping up the standings, the competition became even fiercer with the presence of many Australian and New Zealand skiffs.

Day 1

The light northerly breeze blew through as promised and the light conditions drew out the usual chit chat amongst the fleet of 'big rigs winning big races'. The whole fleet decided to behave and launch on the small rigs, which was definitely the right choice. The first day was a definite shake down for the whole fleet with some very fresh breeze and bumpy transom-popping conditions... exactly what the skiffs come here for!

At the front of the fleet, Yamaha posted 3 bullets with C-Tech hot on their heels. Lola was the highest placed British boat, sitting in third overall followed by ChameleonI in 7th place. The remaining 3 boats had at least one good result, but consistency was the key in climbing the leaderboard.

Day 2

The local Ora breeze relented slightly for the second day. Less wind meant the skiffs could pull off their manoeuvres much more smoothly and allowed the real racing tactics to become increasingly important. This was a welcome relief for the team on Union Rose, who only came together as a crew for the event and were getting to grips with the boat and one of the trickiest conditions the fleet sail in. It was enough for the team to get a few boats behind them when it counted at the finish line.

Lola continued posting their good results and sat in 5th overall and ChameleonI got some time at the front and eventually ended up posting a 3rd place in the second race. The rest of the UK boats also had good races making dents in the fleet. This placed LED, Rutland and Union Rose in 12th, 13th and 17th respectively.

Day 3

There was unrest in the boat park during the morning's rigging. The morning wind was varied in strength and direction and when it came to making the rig call, the fleet tentatively stuck on the small rigs. Going upright with no jibs flapping was certainly unnerving. However, once the boats hit the water, the wind started to build and the rig choice was obvious by the start of the first race.

The three crew of LED are a new line-up for this year and have been gaining success throughout the season in the UK and abroad before this event. This showed in the third race where they had a cracker getting off the line in the right place and posted a 7th place, their highest position so far in the week. Lola dropped a few positions after a retirement, ChameleonI climbed a few places and Rutland and Union Rose held their positions on the leaderboard. At the sharp end of the leader board, Yamaha were dominant with only one DNF to mark down their otherwise perfect scoreline.

Day 4

Another morning of questionable wind finally made the fleet crack. A handful of boats dusted their one rigs and plugged them in, launching in glassy flat conditions. However, by the top mark, the wind had filled in and the No2 rigs were laughing. The only British boat to go big was ChameleonI who decided to bin off the first race and get the two rig back on.

Rutland were hoping today was going to be the day that everything came together. The team recently launched their newly refurbished boat and have had some moments of brilliance, but a few teething problems have caused a few upsets. Unfortunately today was the day the boat bit back. In a bizarre crash gybe avoiding a helm in the water and then the boat that he had just exited, the crew suffered a nasty fall on to the boom, ending their day after the first race. The rest of the British teams consolidated their places on the leader board.

Day 5

The final day had the clockwork wind back in play. No questions about the small rig! The final two races were sailed in champagne conditions, reminding crews that this was a place they would definitely want to come back to in years to come.

The UK boats pretty much fell in order and finished as below:

4th Lola
7th ChameleonI
12th LED
16th Rutland
18th Union Rose

The Southern Hemisphere boats went back in their containers to travel back home. The UK boats have another two events coming up before the final European round in Sandbanks (21st to 24th September). Before then are two more UK events; Nationals at Plymouth (11th to 13th August) and a circuit event at Marconi (9th and 10th September). It was also decided that next year will be the turn for the European fleet to host the Mark Foy Trophy, the official World Championships for the 18ft skiffs.

Overall Results:

PosBoat NameR1R2R3R4R5R6R7R8R9R10R11R12R13R14
3Line 73461424223(DNF)43(OCS)
5Compass Markets6(DNF)(DNF)2739585325OCS
6The Kitchen Maker9511586674(DNF)669(OCS)
14Original Chia1161315(DNF)(DNF)161311DNFDNF9153
15Events Clothing(DNF)(DNF)DNF1214161311109DNF14114
18Union Rose13(DNF)14161715181816(DNF)913DNF6