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VNG Racing wins the first 69F Women Foiling Gold Cup in Gargnano, Lake Garda

by 69F Sailing 3 Sep 2023 18:31 BST 31 August - 3 September 2023

The inaugural 69F Women Foiling Gold Cup has been claimed by the New Zealand team, VNG Racing, led by Olympic Champion Jo Aleh as the skipper, alongside Olympic silver medalist Molly Meech and Olympian Erica Dawson as crew.

The team's talent was undeniable, as was the case for the entire fleet comprising 10 teams from nine nations, totaling approximately 35 sailors. Impressively, 16 of them have participated in at least one edition of the Games, and six have earned at least one medal. This represented the most exceptional lineup ever assembled for a 69F event, and it was an all-female lineup.

While most of the athletes had no prior experience with the 69F, with some being first-time foilers, their professional approach facilitated a steep learning curve, and by the last day, they had all mastered the art of foiling. However, the weather presented challenges on the final day. After the first race was completed with the North wind fading, resulting in only two teams finishing within the time limit, the South wind failed to exceed five knots. This prompted a return to traditional sailing skills.

Two additional upwind-downwind races were concluded before the 2 pm time limit. The top two teams from the Gold Fleet, VNG Racing (NZL) and Team Profand Spain (ESP), proceeded to a winner-takes-it-all match race. Jo Aleh and her team emerged victorious in this two-lap race, securing the title of the first-ever 69F Women Foiling Gold Cup.

Jo Aleh expressed her enthusiasm, stating, "This was our first week sailing the 69F, and we loved it. Great racing and a really fun boat to sail. We learned a lot throughout the week, and we still have a long way to go, a lot more to practice, but we had an awesome team here with Erica and Molly. We truly enjoyed the racing, both foiling downwind and upwind. We foiled every day except for today. Today we went back to what we know better, it was like being on a heavier 49er. We went back to basics with a solid race plan and pumping. It's definitely a different style, but it still made for exciting racing. We really, really enjoyed this week. I hope the Women's event continues, and hopefully, we can get more teams to participate because it's awesome to race with the girls. Additionally, it looks like many of these teams will be part of the Puig Women's America's Cup in Barcelona. We're not certain if we'll be there yet, but hopefully, we will, and this event serves as an excellent testing ground."

Team Profand Spain, comprising Patricia Suarez, Teresa Romairone, and Francesca Bergamo, finished in second place after entering the Gold Fleet ranked sixth. In third place, tied on points with the fourth and fifth teams, was the team from Trieste, Società Velica Barcola e Grignano, with Maria Vittoria Marchesini, Alice Linussi, and Giovanna Micol. The tiebreaker was determined by the fair play point, as SVBG did not received any penalties from the umpires. In fourth place was Team Jajo DutchSail (the best of the Qualifying Series), and in fifth place, American Magic 1, the second-best of the QS, while American Magic 2 closed the top six teams ranking. The four teams that did not make the Gold Fleet were Women's AC Team Germany, Team Australia Challenge, Orient Express, and Team Canada Women's America's Cup Team.

Gargnano provided magnificent sailing conditions on three of the four racing days, and Circolo Vela Gargnano's hospitality was impeccable throughout the week. 69F sailing will now prepare to depart, load the boats onto trailers, and head to Sardinia for the first 69F European Championship in Puntaldia, from September 22nd to 24th. Following that, they will continue to Barcelona for the last Youth Foiling Gold Cup event, followed by the YFGC Grand Final, with plans to stay for some winter events to be announced.

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