Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Mettraux Leads Swiss Geneva J/70 Match Race

Swiss J/70 Matchrace (Locarno, Switzerland)- The opening regatta for Matchrace Switzerland was filled with a strong field of participants from seven nations. It was also the opening event of the Match Race Super League 2018, the worldwide match race series that honors the international champion in the classic match racing format sailing only on keelboats.  This first regatta was sailed on a matched-fleet of J/70’s on beautiful Lago Maggiore, bordered by Switzerland and Italy.

The Geneva Match Race team, with skipper Nelson Mettraux, led the Swiss Grand Prix with six wins after the first two days of the event. Behind them was the Austrian team of Max Trippolt, in front of the top-seeded Estonian match race expert- Mati Sepp- and the Albert Riele Swiss Team with Eric Monnin at the helm.

Swiss J/70 Matchrace39 matches were sailed on those two days thanks to good breezes and efficient race management. On Friday, there was a lot of sun and an oscillating, gusty north wind that strengthened up to 13 kts. After a midday break, the beautiful, constant south wind called “the Inverna” became established in the late afternoon. As a result, the first 21 matches could be sailed.

Saturday dawned cloudy and with a complete “glass out” across the lake. Nevertheless, the Inverna winds arrived in the afternoon and were very cold. For the first time, the new robot buoys were used- quite successfully! The course could be changed much faster and more precisely in a matter of minutes; this allowed another 18 matches to be sailed.

For the final day, the first semi-final race between Nelson Mettraux from Geneva and Mati Sepp from Estonia had been eagerly awaited by many sailing in the regatta. If the Genevan’s win this match, they had the best chance of winning the Matchrace Switzerland, and, therefore, the first stage of the Grand Tour for the Match Race Super League.

On this day, Lago Maggiore was at its best. With 6 to 10 kt winds, sunshine and spring-like temperatures.

Swiss J/70 Matchrace winnersThe two teams delivered a dramatic sailing duel that was only decided at the finish line. The Estonians tried with a daring maneuver to take the lead, violated the rules of entry, and were punished by the referees with a penalty turn and a deduction of half a point. Thus, the victory to the Geneva team was safe. However, due to the points penalties, Team Estonia also lost the podium and finished the regatta in fourth place.

With an equally convincing performance, Max Trippolt’s Austrian team took second place.  More importantly, they defeated the winner of the Match Race Super League 2017, Eric Monnin with the Albert Riele Swiss Team, placing them third.

Following the success of Matchrace Switzerland 2018, the Swiss J/70 Sailing League is planning to further expand this world-class event in the coming years as a highlight in the Swiss sailing calendar.  Sailing photo credits- SSL/ Claudia Somm  For more Swiss J/70 Sailing League information Add to Flipboard Magazine.