Three close races today in perfect conditions and an applied penalty help decide two new ISAF offshore world champions
On a day that was the perfect ending to a week-long series that featured a wide variety of conditions, a new ORCi World Champion is crowned in Class A, and the winning team from last year retains their title for Class B.
Marco Serafini’s TP 52 Hurakan was one of a group of five fast 50-footers that pushed each other all week to dominate the results in Class A for most of the eight-race series. Led by America’s Cup tactician Thomasso Chieffi, the Hurakan team overcame a mediocre start in the first three races of the event to find their stride in the next four inshore races, never scoring worse than sixth and winning two races outright, but not by strong margins…in fact, for most races the corrected time differences among the top five finishers were measured in seconds, making this one of the most competitive Class A fleets ever in ORCi Worlds history.
“We started slowly, still in 4th place in the first few races,” said Serafini, “then with a burst of energy we committed ourselves to push hard to be in the top positions. This was really difficult because the other teams were really strong, all with veterans of the America’s Cup on board. This is also a characteristic of the TP52, to attract talent at this level, so we prepared by training since March and committing ourselves very seriously to this program.”
Besides Serafin and Chieffi, the Hurakan team included Michele Regolo, Bruno Zirilli, Andrea Casale, John Hayes, Salvatore Pavoni, Saverio Cigliano, Andrea Pavan, Paolo Mangialardo, Paolo Marcaccini, Claudio Vallesi, Giacomo Santinelli, and Gabriele Giardini.
Race Committee Chairman Alfredo Ricci had big waves and big wind to contend with today, but the 15-25 knots held steady enough for him to make the bold call to hold three races on this final day. This made for an intense fight for the final two podium positions in Class A, where not only did it all came down to the final race, it even resulted in a fair sailing protest between two protagonists in the drama.
Giorgio Martin’s TP 52 Aniene had to find a way to deprive Piero Panniccia’s Cookson 50 Calipso an opportunity to displace their own chance to stay on the podium, so they drove the canting-keeled boat back into the fleet just far enough to make them not able to discard their 20th place in yesterday’s Race 5. The plan worked by just one point, putting now ex-World Champion Alberto Rossi’s Enfant Terrible team in to the Bronze position.
Winner of the Corinthian Trophy for Class A was 10th-placed Riccardo di Bartolomeo’s GS 42R MAN, who is accustomed to being on the podium in ORC regattas with all-pro crews, but decided to take the helm himself this week with an all-amateur crew. Runner-up for this division was Ernesto Brada’s B&C 46 from Brazil Touche Super, and third was Giovanni di Vincenzo’s X-41 Lisa.
The intense competition amongst several teams at the top of Class A was different than in Class B, which was in contrast dominated by two teams most of the week: Giuseppe Giuffre’s M37 Low Noise and Vincenzo de Blasio’s NM38 Scugnizza, the reigning champion from last year’s ORCi World Championship in Helsinki. The two were in a league of their own, and even after a weak start for Scugnizza, they stayed the top of this class throughout the competition.
But then disaster struck for Low Noise when measurers found the teams had inadvertently violated a safety rule by not having 100 kg of trim ballast secured in the bilge, an oversight that resulted in a 25% penalty added to their scores for Races 1-3. This pushed them back into the pack in points and knocked them off the top of the leader board going into today’s final day of racing. The reigning champions now held a virtually unassailable lead, and the path to a repeat championship crown looked clear, provided they kept free of any trouble.
“We are very happy to have repeated the title!” said an elated de Blasio. “I have a crew really well-prepared: even if we trained a lot this year, we have worked hard in recent months to optimize the boat. We then arrived prepared and despite the level of competition we felt we were contenders in every race. It was not easy because the opponents were very strong and the races were all very different and challenging.”
De Blasio’s crew included Hugo Rocha, Alberto Grippo, Guiseppe Montella, Giada de Blasio, lorenzo de Felice, Umberto Coppola, Angelo Soraci, Francesco Coari, and Michele de Giovanni.
Ironically, the path to victory for de Blasio was made even clearer when Giuffre decided to exit the competition completely for the final three races, even though his team had a chance for a podium finish. This left the silver medal place available for UkaUka Racing’s Comet 38S, since they were able to discard an OCS on Race 5. Alessandro Consiglio’s First 35 South Kensington was also able to slide up onto the podium and win not only Bronze, but also the top Corinthian Trophy for Class B having an all-amateur crew.
The remaining Corinthian Trophy contenders in Class B were placed high in the standings: runner-up was 4th-placed Ettore Morace’s First 34.7 Goodfellas, and in third was 5th-placed Paolo Zoppi’s First 40.7 Jasmine Moroni & Partners, just edging out Francesco Siculiana’s GS 40RC Alvarosky.
Alessandro Nazareth and Jason Ker, members of the ORC’s International Technical Committee that manages the ORC VPP, were on hand to observe the competition, and felt the rating system was working well.
“Its remarkable that the top teams in every race were so close in corrected time,” said Ker. “The teams that were well-sailed, with the best crews and the best preparation, were winning, not those with any rating gimmicks. Also, there was a great variety of boat types doing well in this fleet, so we feel the VPP is doing its job well.”
“We are very proud to award the titles to these two excellent teams,” said ORC Chairman Bruno Finzi. “They exhibited all the suitable qualities of offshore World Champions: excellence in preparation and execution in a wide variety of wind and sea conditions among a world-class fleet. We congratulate the owners, their crews and their sponsors on a superlative performance, and thank the organizers for producing an outstanding event.”