Monday, February 17, 2014

J/70 sailing YC Monaco Primo Cup 
LULU LA NANTAISE Crowned Primo Cup Champion
(Monte Carlo, Monaco)-  The second part of YC Monaco’s famous Primo Cup XXX- Trophee Credit Suisse took place this past weekend from February 7th to 9th.  As predicted, the twelve boat J/70 fleet encountered very challenging sailing conditions.  While Friday was a bit soggy and had reasonable breeze, by Sunday the massive front rolling across Europe flew off into the eastern Med, making for a spectacular day of sailing with WNW winds of 15-25 kts with clear skies and enormous waves! The J/70s had wild, exhilarating rides whistling across the magnificent Monagesque shoreline.

“It’s great to come across and race against America’s Cup helmsmen who got us dreaming in the first place,” commented a young Laser sailor from the YCM, Edward Albert-Davie. It’s true that since it was launched in 1985 on the initiative of YC Monaco President Prince Albert II (sailing his J/24), the Primo Cup has hosted many of the great names, be they Olympic or offshore sailors, who come to Monaco to kick-start the Mediterranean circuit alongside highly skilled amateurs.

The J/70 fleet had teams from across Europe representing six countries (Monaco, France, Italy, Germany, Great Britain and Turkey). Introduced last year in the Principality of Monaco, the J/70 has won many YC Monaco members over who have taken it up. As a result, there was much anticipation surrounding the J/70s which proved just how maneuverable and easy to handle they are in the big sea and wind conditions of Monaco.

J/70s sailing off Monte Carlo, Monaco in Primo Cup
Frenchman Ludovic Sénéchal, sailing LULU LA NANTAISE, demonstrated his supremacy with three race wins. He beat Monegasque Jacopo Carrain, skippering CARPE DIEM, who was still discovering what his boat could do having only baptised it on Thursday evening the day before the event!!  Carrain’s 2-2-5-4 for 8 pts net was enough to finish ahead of Frenchmen Marc Pajot and Tom Mellano sailing JUMP AROUND that had a 3-3-OCS-3 record for 9 pts.  For those of you familiar with the Olympics and dinghies, you may remember Pajot as a top French 470 and Flying Dutchman sailor in the 70’s and 80’s.  He also sailed with his daughter Zoe both weekend of the Primo Cup, finishing 3rd in IRC in his J/97 and repeating that finish with her, again, on the J/70!

Friday’s sailing saw three races were completed in difficult conditions, with a north-easterly touching 12 knots at its height in the day before fading. Like a metronome, the YC Monaco’s Race Committee fired off a string of starts, one after the other, with no respite for the 83 crews.  At the end of the day, and after a fairly spectacular final race, particularly round the second windward mark, a pattern was emerging in the provisional rankings. Sénéchal’s LULU LA NANTAISE won three races, opening up the gap with the two Monegasque entries,  Carrain’s CARPE DIEM and Tamburelli’s YCM 2.

Senecal’s report on Friday- “we were the third start on our course.  The first race was run in medium conditions (8 to 11 kts of breeze).  Five boats went together around the first windward mark with us and they all stayed close after the downwind run and rounding of the leeward mark.  On the second beat, the left side of the course was better and we managed to round first and finish there at the end of the race.  The entire fleet of J/70s finished in less than a minute, close racing!  The second race was completely different.  The wind was playing tricks on Hercules Bay, it was puffy, quickly died down, shifted, then would increase again.  With such dramatic changes in the wind, the fleet spread out, but we sailed most of the four legs in about 10 kts of wind and somehow won the race.  In the third race, with a few recalls, it was easy to get an OCS.  On the first beat, we played the left side again and rounded first.  The downwind run was tricky, but it was worse on the second beat, the wind played lots of tricks in strength and direction. It was more like a “lottery draw” than a sailboat race!  In the end, we snuck past the early race leaders and somehow took our third first!  Amazing!  At the end of the day, the YC Monaco had a fabulous Happy Hour in their beautiful new club— what an incredible place!”

J/70 Primo Cup tug-of-war at YC Monaco during Primo CupHaving already confronted fairly wintery conditions on Friday, the entire fleet were not able to complete a race on Saturday in Hercules Bay. After several starts were attempted for the fleets, the YC Monaco Race Committee was forced to cancel all races in the interests of fair-play.  The PRO was faced with totally unpredictable conditions that saw the wind veering 90° within minutes and a squally weather front foiling any chance of a stable system filling in.  All was not lost, however, as the YC Monaco Social Committee welcomed all the teams back with a warm glass of mulled wine. Consequently, the spirits were high amongst the sailors and they were ready for some competition.  The result? A friendly tug-of-war went down during the storm while others enjoyed the opportunity to support their teams in the Six Nations Rugby Match that was being broadcast on a giant screen along with “live” Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia on another giant screen.

Sunday’s epic sailing conditions only produced one race, much to the dismay of many J/70 sailors who were relishing the high-speed planing conditions and gigantic waves.  Senecals’ report is an interesting commentary on the crazy weather conditions, “we had offshore winds of 30 knots at the starting line with 3m swell (that’s about 10 ft!).  On the first beat off the starting line, it was very obvious that the right hand side of the leg was favorable.  With winds easing a bit near the windward mark, the first three boats (including us) set our spinnakers and took off from the rest of the fleet in a gigantic puff (the rest of the fleet rounded in a big lull and got stuck far behind).  The run was very, very fast, too fast for some who ended up too low and had to drop spinnakers to make the leeward mark!  On the next beat to windward we had the same problem, good winds up the right beat playing shifts, but becalmed again at the windward mark.  Now, the cards got shuffled again!  We lost some here and finished second in the race behind the fast sailing Italians on TANSPANCE, skippered by Vittorio Di Mauro.  It was great sailing and congratulations to YC Monaco for a fabulous event!”

After the top three, the balance of the top five was broken on a tie-breaker.  The Italian team sailing TANSPANCE with Di Mauro skippering took fourth overall by virtue of winning the last race, scoring a 9-7-4–1 for 12 pts.  Losing the tie-break was Roberto Tamburelli’s YCM 2, scoring a consistent 4-6-3-5 also for 12 pts.  The general commentary from the fleet afterwards was that YC Monaco ran a fantastic event and the J/70 sailors are hoping to again double the size of the fleet for 2015 and have at least three to four dozen teams sailing!   For more J/70 Primo Cup- Trophee Credit Suisse sailing information