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Musto Skiff 2023 Pre-Worlds at Circolo Vela Torbole

by Peter Greenhalgh & Richard Smith 16 Jul 18:33 BST 15 July 2023
Pre-Worlds at Lake Garda for the ACO 12th Musto Skiff World Championships 2023 © Natalie Hilton

A glorious day for the Pre-Worlds practice races at the ACO 12th Musto Skiff World Championships, best described as a classic Garda windy one. After a few hours of postponement, the breeze was on! Up to 20 knots with solid breeze across the course.

The fleet set out for two practice races with most arriving early at the start line area for some blasting.

Race 1

As the minutes counted down, there was a bit of port bias to discourage people starting at the committee boat end and going immediately right. Those not confident of crossing the fleet on port, or fancying the committee boat "bun fight", remained in the middle of the line.

A few good starters included Sam Pascoe who confidently sailed through the fleet from port side, Danny Boatman, who found a good lane just down from the starboard end, and Jamie Hilton who made the left work. Despite under tacking the starboard lay, Danny boy swung it round the windward mark in 1st, closely followed by Sam P and then Jamie H. Peter Greenhalgh came round alongside Dan Vincent, just ahead of a big pack, of which a couple of boats were very hopeful with their laylines, resulting in some carnage.

The downwinds presented some steep chop and high-speed sailing! Inevitably the layline gybe had some casualties. The fleet quickly settled into a pecking order amongst the front bunch. Two laps saw the race being short and sharp!

From the middle orders there was lots of busy crosses both up and downwind. Despite heading out early, Richard Smith only hoisted his kite once pre-start, sadly with the inevitable result at first gybe (let's leave that in the bag then and keep it there). Across the middle of the fleet, John Piatt in GBR 178 was going very well upwind. One of the new youths to the fleet, Ollie Bull, was certainly fast and held it together with just a couple of swims.

Race 1 finished with Sam Pascoe crossing the line in 1st, followed by Jamie Hilton in 2nd, and Dan Vincent in 3rd place.

Race 2

By race 2, the wind had eased, and the left had softened considerably. Still with enough left in the wind and port bias, a few boats took advantage of this and started on port, or towards the port end, with early tacks. Meanwhile at the starboard end, Paul Dijkstra slightly intertwined with Peter Greenhalgh, who got out the starboard end and quickly onto port. Paul D executed well but went over lay considerably (thankfully for Peter), also then encouraging some others, which meant that Peter was able to sneak round ahead of the pack, but was rolled by Paul D, Dan V and Sam P in the last 100m.

Meanwhile, in the middle of the fleet, George Cousins in GBR 605 and Richard Smith were full tilt into final windward mark, with George trying to squeeze in for room at the spreader mark, just avoided. George is certainly one of the more athletic amongst the fleet, and Richard feared for the gybe hoist competition to the cliffs. To be fair, there was a clear winner by a considerable margin, but it wasn’t Richard.

Everyone was very keen on the gybe set and settled into a groove. With the wind now softer, people were pushing harder with a few slips, one most notably being Sam P. This left Dutch sailor, Paul D and British sailor, Dan V to duke it out at the front! Paul D took 1st place, with Dan V in 2nd, and Spanish sailor, Justo Martinez Balaguer taking 3rd, after Danny Boy piled on the pressure!

Two good races in reliable Garda southerly wind were a great opener for what looks to be a cracking event! Based on today, the top 10 is going to be very competitive!

Follow the daily races for the ACO 12th Musto Skiff 2023 Worlds in real-time in partnership with SailRacer GPS Tracking.

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