Fur flies with one day left at the SSAB ORC Eureopean Championship 2019

17 August 2019

  Perfect conditions for close racing continued today in the SSAB ORC European Championship 2019, with a 10-14 knot southerly breeze on the Baltic prompting an increase in aggression as the fleet heads into its final day of racing tomorrow. With two races and a discard left, the positions on the podium are not assured and the math is being run to work through the scenarios.

The fleet's starts have thusfar been rather tame, with good behavior and few recalls needed, but today that changed as the tension and risk levels increased. Class A with only 8 entries has not been a problem but Class B needed both the U and Black flags today to pull off their two races.

One team caught in the net of the U flag penalty was one of the top contenders in this class, Michael Berghorn's X-41 Halbtrocken 4.0 from Germany. Their scores of 2.5 - 2.0 - 3.0 in the first two days of competition kept them in touch with class leader Sportsfreund, another German X-41 owned by Axel Seehafer. But then disaster struck in today's first race, with a UFD and 26 points appearing in the results.

Filling out a redress form, tactician Jes Gram-Hansen said "Its been really close racing out there, but we really don't think we were that close on this start. The call on the radio was confusing, so we're looking for clarity."

Meanwhile another talented Danish tactician from the pro match racing leagues a decade ago, Jesper Radich, had his pencil poised over a protest form, thinking about whether to fill in the form and file for an incident they had with Halbtrocken in Race 5. Having had another good day on Sportsfreund, winning two bullets today to add to their impressive 1-1-2 record in the first two days, the move would unlikely hurt them as a right-of-way boat, but would sure put the hurt on their adversary if the outcome would go they way they wanted. Radich filed and the protest was heard.

Awaiting the decision, both Danes stood together chatting and said they really didn't want to be in this situation, having earned each other's respect having been both friends and adversaries for many years. They wished there had been umpires at the mark rounding to make this call, like seen in match racing and in some other classes. Radich said "I really did not want to file this, but my team was really insistent...the owner, the trimmers, and bowman, all were in agreement they thought this was too close."

Unfortunately for Halbtrocken, so was the Jury, and so Gram-Hansen will have to fight hard tonight in his other hearing for the UFD redress in Race 4 to stay alive for a chance at the podium tomorrow. The other two teams behind Sportsfreund on the leader board are the 2018 Offshore Worlds Class B Bronze medallists, Tiit Vihul-skippered X-41 Olympic from Estonia, who had solid scores of 2-4 today, and Jens Kuphal's Landmark 43 Intermezzo from Germany who earned a 7.5 -3. Only two points separate these two, but they are 13 points back from the class leader, suggesting Halbtrocken may be able to remain just out of reach and the fight tomorrow may likely be just for Silver and Bronze.

Black flags were also displayed for Class C, catching one team deep in the ranks in the net but leaving the leading contenders unscathed. Today's class winner with two bullets was the Sven Nuutmann-skippered CYD 37 Postimees Sailing Team from Estonia, who with these impressive results has risen to be very much in the hunt for Gold tomorrow.  But there's work to do: they cannot discard their 7th place in Race 3, only their 4th in Race 2, while the series leader by three points - the Joachim Aschenbrenner-skippered J/112E Matilda 4, also from Estonia - can discard their 5th place in today's Race 5. Yet this is assuming their finishes in tomorrow's first race - Race 6 in the series - are not lower than their discard scores.

The other two possible players for the podium positions are two other Estonian teams: Aivar Tuulberg's Arcona 340 Katariina II and Ott Kikkas's Italia 9.98 Sugar who will rise from the ranks rapidly once they shed 38 points from their DSQ in Race 1. So, it's all to play for tomorrow in Class C. In Class A the scores on the leaderboard are fairly layered, with the Gold and Silver medalists reasonably certain to be either Erik Berth's Swan 45 Tarok VII from Denmark or is One Sailing Finland's TP 52 Zer0emission. The two have been trading 1-2 scores for all races thusfar, and are only a point apart. The real fight will be for Bronze, with four boats within 3 points: Bernhard Buchwald's XP 44 Xenia from Germany, Karalow Witold's Soto 40 Scamp 27 from Poland, and Mats Bergryd's Shogun 50 Lady Killer and Lennart Evrell's XP 44 Aida, both from Sweden.

After an information meeting tomorrow morning about the 2020 ORC-IRC Worlds being held next year in the USA at New York YC, the fleet will head out for their final two races of the series before final awards held after racing. Start time for the first race is scheduled for 11:00 CET on both race courses.

Photo: Felix Diemer




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