Monday, July 4, 2016

Claudia Rossi Crowned J/70 European Champion!

J/70 Europeans winner- Claudia Rossi (Kiel, Germany)- The second J/70 European Championship saw ninety-six boats from fifteen nations sail eleven races over the four day series in everything from stormy weather with epic planing conditions to sunny days with benign, shifty breezes.  Kiel YC hosted the regatta with racing taking place in the choppy waters of the southern Baltic Sea called the Schilksee.  It was a very talent-laden fleet, with multiple European and World Champions in over a dozen classes participating, including the Deutscher Touring YC- winner of the 2015 Deutsche-Segel Bundesliga.  The surprise winner of the event was top Italian woman skipper Claudia Rossi and her PETITE TERRIBLE crew of Matteo Mason, Simone Spangaro and Michele Paoletti.  Claudia sailed an amazing series, she scored all top five finishes and, in fact, tossed a 5th place to score just 29 pts net in ten races- a remarkable 2.9 average!

Day 1 Report
Because of the size of the fleet, the 96 teams were split into four flights that would rotate after each race in order to race each other with 48 teams on the starting line.  After the first race day of racing, several southern European teams were dominating the standings. Stefano Roberti’s PICCININA from the YC Monaco J/70 fleet was at the top of the leaderboard after posting a smoking-hot 2-1-1 scoreline.  They were followed by two Italian crews- Carlo Alberini’s CALVI NETWORK (1-2-2) and Claudia Rossi’s PETITE TERRIBLE (1-4-2).  The best German crew was in tenth place- Sven-Erik Horsch team from Norddeutscher Regatta Verein in Hamburg.

J/70s sailing Europeans- Kiel, GermanyCarsten Kemmling’s HELGA was third best German team on the day in 12th place.  They appeared to be satisfied with the first race day, “Our results were respectable with a 5-15-5. But the Italians and the Monegasque are just slightly faster. It is not much, but they obviously have found better settings. We have been trying for three days to adjust the trim accordingly, but the Italians just have had much more training. The day has not been easy with the current and uncomfortable swells.”

Claudia Rossi was hoping to follow the same successful path in Kiel that her father did two years earlier. In 2014, her father, Alberto, won the ORC Worlds in the outer fjord with his boat ENFANT TERRIBLE.  Evidently, Claudia has the same competitive fire in her blood as her Dad!  In fact, Alberto himself flew to Kiel on Thursday to cheer on his daughter.

Stefano Roberti was as surprised as anyone to be leading the regatta after the first day. "This is way above our expectations. Last year, I was 40th in the Europeans”, said Roberti. "I thought last year, that I could keep sailing with friends, but I soon realized that this is not possible in this class. So I brought aboard three very good sailors that understand dinghies and sportboats- my crew is Enrico Fonda, Ludovic Broquaire, and Filippo Lamantia.  We loved the conditions today; they were very similar to Monaco. The starts also worked well. I can say, it has been a happy day for us!“

J/70 Calvi Network sailing J/70 EuropeansDay 2 Report
For the J/70 sailors, it was a late one on the race area on their second day. In the light and shifty breezes, the race committee managed to start two races, before the wind finally disappeared when they were trying to start the third race. So PRO Thorsten Paech decided to send the crews back to the dock.

The leaders of the fleet changed, with Rossi’s PETITE TERRIBLE taking the lead with a 1-5 compared to Roberti’s PICCININA with a 4-6.  For many in the top ten, it was the fifth and last race of the day that saw some dramatically bad races posted on the scoreboard.

“It was a day, where you would lose so much by making small mistakes. All forty-seven teams in our group rounded the first mark very close together, and then, if you happened to be on the wrong side on the downwind, you lost a lot,” reported Roberti.  "Since we are a rather heavy team, we are very happy with our boat speed. But Claudia, with her crew, is incredibly fast.“

Even for the new regatta leaders- Rossi’s PETITE TERRIBLE, not everything went smoothly. In the first race, they were third at the first mark, but they were held from making their gybe by their rivals and lost a few places. “Fortunately, we could fight our way back up to fourth place again. That was good for us, especially when we realized that our opponents had started in the wrong group!”

Oliver Schwall, sailing BROTHERHOOD (founder of German Sailing League), was coming to terms with the idea the teams from the Mediterranean had a higher speed potential. "In the national sailing league we are sailing with basic settings on the J/70, which we are not allowed to change. You immediately notice that these other teams know how to set up their boats better."  Oliver was sailing with his brother Rene, Bo Teichmann and Moritz Jaeger-Roschko (all members of Kieler YC).

At the end of racing on Day 2, the only German crew in the top ten was the team of PIT FINIS with tactician Karol Jablonski on board (a DN iceboat World Champion and Match-Racing World Champion).

J/70s sailing in storm- Kiel, GermanyDay 3 Report
The third day appeared to have an enormous effect on the points table. In the first race for the Blue fleet over 30 boats were disqualified due to an early start. And several crews were subsequently judged OCS in other races.  But, staying clear of trouble was Ms Rossi’s crew on PETITE TERRIBLE, as she continued her winning ways with scores of 1-4-4 to become the unchallenged leader of the fleet.

No fewer than 38 disqualifications from OCS’s were reported in the list of the 94 teams. Race director Nino Shmueli defended his tough approach, “It was all according to the rules. We are sailing with huge stickers on the bow in the J/70 fleet, so we could recognize all early starters. Even if only one team had started right it would have stood as a race.”

Three races were sailed and so Shmueli was satisfied with the day, remarking that “Despite the thunderstorms and the shifting winds, the full program could be sailed. In the afternoon, the wind picked up a lot. But, we brought back everyone ashore without damage.”

Of course, the emotions of the disqualified teams were a bit different. “It was fully compliant with the rules, but morally questionable,” said Christian Soyka- skipper of the VOICE OF ITZEHOE (a former 4-time X-99 Word Champion).  They were pushed down to 19th place because of their BFD disqualification. “In the yellow starting group, one start had been cancelled.  But, in the blue group, they kept it running. You have to follow a precedent in this case,” remarked Soyka.  “Our objective here was to learn from the best J/70 teams in Europe.  Today, we were wrong, not good. We have never sailed in this wind and with these waves before.  Up until the sixth race we had all top ten finishes!”

The biggest leaderboard climbers on the day were Eduardo Lupi’s TORPYONE from Italy (3-5-2) and Charlie Esse’s BABY J from the U.K. (4-9-3), both sitting on the provisional podium at 2nd and 3rd, respectively.  Also, sailing “lights out” all day in hyper-kinetic mode was Brazilian Mauricio Santa Cruz on MANDACHUVA (4-1-2) with the best record of the day in the entire fleet to catapult them into 5th place overall.

J/70 sailing Europeans- Kiel, GermanyDay 4 Finale
The regatta finished with a packed program of three races. And the weather on the race course made it a perfect day, after difficult wind conditions and a huge number of disqualifications had caused lots of turbulence in the highly competitive class.  By sailing a perfect series of races on the final day, Roberti’s PICCININA counted three victories to end up taking the silver while Gonzalo Araujo from Spain posted a 2-1-5 to vault into the bronze medal to finish off the podium.  Rounding out the top five were Lupi’s TORPYONE in fourth, suffering from having to throw out a Black Flag in the last race, and in fifth was Santa Cruz’s MANDACHUVA.

J/70 European winners podium- Kiel, GermanyClaudia Rossi’s PETITE TERRIBLE performance was a surprise for the top J/70 sailors and, also, for herself: "I had not expected to win when I came here. We only had the boat since February. But, the crew had an ambitious objective and made us fast!” The young sailor from Italy has been racing for years at an Olympic level in Italy.  Sailing seems to come naturally for her and her family. She remarked that, “Kiel is a very lucky sailing territory for our family! Now, I am looking forward to going home, where my boyfriend is waiting, and we will have a huge party!” Can anyone blame her?  Party-on! :)

Even the second-placed Roberti, sailing under the Monegasque flag, was outshining the sun in Kiel with his happiness, "I am happy with the silver medal. I had never expected to do this well. On the third day, we thought we had given away the chances at the overall title with a Black Flag and moderate results.  Nevertheless, we are happy to be here on the podium!  It’s an amazing fleet of very accomplished sailors!  We hope to participate in the J/70 Worlds in San Francisco and learn more!”

Roberti congratulated Claudia Rossi, "Their team just stayed cool, hardly made any mistakes and sailed a very consistent series.  I enjoyed it here. To be part of this big event in Kiel was lots of fun. Being in the middle of the young sailors from all the Olympic classes in Kiel Week is wonderful, it makes you feel even younger!“    Watch this J/70 European Championship sailing video highlights here.   For more J/70 European Championship sailing information