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Gill 2017 728x90

Magic Marine Solo Nation's Cup at Fraglia Vela Riva - Day 2

by Steve Watson & Will Loy 2 Jul 10:51 BST 30 June - 3 July 2018

I awoke with the piercing rays of the sun tracking across my duvet, and with that scene from the Bond movie filling my mind, exited from the bed before the laser beam could render me useless. Another stunning day greeted me, wall to wall sunshine and a gentle breeze to soften the humidity... Meanwhile, 960 miles away low cloud and an already white capped lake was on the menu for the 52 Solo sailors who were already a few inches taller from day one's hiking.

The Ora had started early and threatened to spoil the day's racing but the flip side was that it would enhance the revenues of Fraglia del Riva.

The postponement flag was raised, cracking like a whip as it flicked in the building breeze. Italians huddled together and discussed Prosecco, women and dinghy racing but none dared to utter a football analogy.

The plan was hatched at 13:30 with the wind reported dropping and a start at 3pm. Some sailors looked out to the roaring arena with trepidation while others just stood dumbfounded with the knowledge that there would be a curtailment to Happy-Hour.

Doug Latta noted that the club stated the wind would drop to around 10 knots but they launched into a 28 knot southerly!

On the water and Steve commented on conditions at start of (play*)?

Low cloud shrouded the 300m mountains. Waves 1m, 20 knots, Solos planing. 46 boats came out to play*. The three leaders are clad in yellow, blue and red Magic Marine bibs. Ziggy is game. This is the name of Claar van der Does Solo and the diminutive Dutch sailor is not daunted by the day's agenda, her mast may beg to differ, such is the rig load applied to flatten the mainsail.

Race 4

Windward leeward course, three laps and predicted to be very fast downwind if you could stay upright Mr Hopwood. There's an OCS; a boat returns but not the right one; X flag dropped. 5645, Ian Hopwood, survives and uses up one of his nine lives.

First mark leaders are Tim Law, Charlie Cumbley, Andy Tunnicliffe and Micheal Hicks.

Law is cloaked in red, while Cumbley proudly sports the yellow Magic Marine leader vest. They are neck and neck down the run, Law leads, Cumbley surges forward at the mark but Law gets inside, just. The run is twice as fast as the beat.

Hopwood, 'the cat', does a dodgy gybe and survives reducing his life count to 7 while around him boats are knocked over like skittles. Some recover and the retirement holding area starts to fill as fatigue spreads like Ebola.

At the second windward mark Cumbley takes the lead. Another neck and neck on starboard tack and Cumbley seeks the inside line at the mark, displaying a masterclass in gybing. The yellow bib pulls clear and by the end of the third run is well ahead by 40seconds, Law second, the 60 something sailor making a mockery of the adage that it's a young man's game and Tunnicliffe is third.

The PRO had promised a reduction in length of race if it was windy but the 3 laps still took 55 minutes! Energy bars and re-hydration would have to suffice as there was no popping into the club for a brew, the town but a dot on the horizon.

Full marks to all that got a finish gun and special note to the very stoic NED574, Hedger Dijkstra who, despite a long capsize, righted and completed the race with a minute to time-out to spare. Ziggy (Claar) finished an amazing 14th and must have been elated. The Solo is female friendly!

Race 5

20 knots plus, as acknowledged by Doug with water both choppy and sporting large waves. "Triangle sausage happy hour"! Steve's thoughts from the see-sawing committee boat once again wondering away from the action to the salubrious Byzantine structure of the clubhouse and the promise of Prosecco.

There's a recall and the boat returns.

The first mark has blue bib 5764 Oliver Davenport leading from the cat (Hopwood the capsize king) and Hicks. The wind seems to have abated slightly with fewer casualties at the gybe mark. Davenport has a 20 boat lead while Hicks drops to 5th or its dyslexia and the bright red bib of second overall, Law was there all the time. No sign of Cumbley in the effervescent vest, though now I am wondering if Steve has some kind of vision disorder.

Ziggy is 28th, the 65kg sailor easily recognised by her crouched hiking style and high mode direction through the swell.

Second time at the windward mark and there's no change in position. The Azure blue vest is in formidable form, bringing heavy sighs and tears to the Italian football fans now camping nearby and has a commanding lead, yet the action is behind. The yellow bib surges down the waves and takes 4th, then 3rd then 2nd then back to 3rd, the North Sails jockey has been consuming places like a Pacman in a 1980s arcade game. Hopwood, in 2nd place fails to find his third cat of the day and capsizes gifting our yellow event leader 2nd place with Law in the red vest 3rd. GAME OVER.

This racing works! The colours are all in the front.

The fleet returned to shore, loved ones lining the classy waterfront restaurants sipped ice cold frappes and wondered what all the fuss was about. Norbert Zonneveld and the team of the Dutch Class Association have laid on some very delightful social functions, Happy Hour being the most popular thus far.

So, Charlie Cumbley sits atop the leaderboard with Tim Law and Oliver Davenport keeping him honest with some high calibre performances. Peerke Kortekaas is our first Dutchman in 6th, he will be hoping for a discard to kick in so he can strike off his 16th in race 5 while Claar van der Does sits in 23rd with the Dutch chairman above her and the UK Vice President beneath. A position no one would like to be in!

The fleet have launched early on day 3, 40 knot gusts expected at lunchtime so the optimistic PRO, with no plans to sit down and watch the World Cup will endeavour to run 3 races before the storm. I forecast more weary/broken/numb competitors by the late afternoon, fortunately the Prosecco is only 2.5 euros.

Thanks to Doug Latta and Steve Watson (photos too) for spending some time away from the bubbly to share their experiences with us.

Results so far can be found here.

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