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5.5 Metre Swiss/Italian Open 2018 on Lake Como - Day 1

by Robert Deaves 22 Jun 06:02 BST 21-24 June 2018

The combined Swiss/Italian Open began on Lake Como, Italy on Thursday 22 June with two great races in a building southerly that topped out at 12-15 knots. SUI 228, Marie Francois (Jurg Menzi, Jurgen Eiermann, Christoph Wilke) leads from current world champions BAH 22 John B (Gavin McKinney, Mathias Dahlman, Bjorn Hansen) with SUI 213 Pengouin (Hans-Peter Schmid, Gilbert Ryf) in third.

While it is not the first time that the class has held the Swiss Championship in Italy, this event marks the first time that the Swiss and Italian championships have been combined into one event. The objective was to boost numbers on the water by attracting the largely classic Italian fleet to race against the larger Swiss fleet. And it seems to have worked with 19 boats taking part including five beautiful classic 5.5 Metres.

At the briefing at the Marina di Domaso, the event began with moment of remembrance for Swiss 5.5 sailor Rolf Kellenberger, who recently passed away.

The course area was a long way to the south with the racing run run by the Gravedonna based club, AVAL CDV.

There was a clear difference of opinion on the opening race with the fleet evenly split between left and right. Marie Francois favoured the right and emerged head when the two groups came back together to lead downwind from ITA 79, 5BILLY5 (Mariacristina Rapisardi, Giovanni Arrivabene, Marco Bonzanigo) and SUI 214 Caracole (Bernard Haissly, Nicolas Berthoud).

Marie Francois was the fastest though and gradually extended her lead for a comfortable win from SUI 215 Nina (Heinz Saurer, Thomas Saurer, Michael Beyeler) and John B. Several boats lost out from a large shift on the second upwind, but it was a sign of the increasing breeze.

Race 2 began with most boats heading left, but this time SUI 251 New Moon (Mark Holowesko, Christoph Burger, Peter Vlasov) made the best of it to lead up the first beat, rounding overlapped with Marie Francois. However New Moon moved ahead downwind and held on to take the race win from Marie Francois and Pengouin.

Jurgen Eiermann, middle crew of Marie Francois said of the day, "Today was very good. The wind was coming from the south and it was a little bit shifty but a very nice sailing day. And we have very good fun."

"In the first race we had a very good start and controlled the race from the front and finished first. In the second we were a little bit behind at the start and finished second, so it was a very good day for us"

Mark Holowesko, Helmsman of New Moon, wasn't happy with their first race.

"The first race wasn't very good. We got pushed too far to the left hand side of the course so we overstood the first mark. We did OK catching back up on the run from sixth to third and then going up the last beat we got caught out on the right hand side of the course. The wind turned about15 degrees and filled in on the left. We didn't pay enough attention to get over there early enough."

"In the second race we had a very good start and we pretty much led from the start. We had good boatspeed and Christoph did a good job putting us in a good position at the first mark. We were able to maintain our speed and won the second race."

"Other than that shift on the first race the wind was pretty consistent most of the day. But it was beautiful sailing out there."

Results after Day 1: (top five)

1 SUI 228 Marie Francois (Jurg Menzi, Jurgen Eiermann, Christoph Wilke, Modern) 3pts
2 BAH 22 John B (Gavin McKinney, Mathias Dahlman, Bjorn Hansen, Modern) 7pts
3 SUI 213 Pengouin (Hans-Peter Schmid, Gilbert Ryf, Modern) 9pts
4 SUI 251 New Moon (Mark Holowesko, Christoph Burger, Peter Vlasov, Modern) 10pts
5 SUI 215 Nina (Heinz Saurer, Thomas Saurer, Michael Beyeler, Modern) 10pts

Full results can be found here.

The championship continues Friday with three races scheduled from 12.00.

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