Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Battle Royale @ Monaco Sportsboat Winter Series II

J/70s sailing off Monaco(Monte Carlo, Monaco)- The final day of the Monaco Sportsboat Winter Series regatta was intense with the J/70 fleet completing four races.  Now in its fourth season, this series of regattas organized from October to March by the Yacht Club de Monaco, in collaboration with clothing supplier SLAM, have been given new impetus with the arrival of the massive fleet of European sailors participating in the J/70 class- the world’s fastest growing and largest sportboat class.

In this dynamic international class, where women and men, young and old alike, compete on an equal level, thirty-four teams from eleven nationalities saw a wide open battle for the top of the leaderboard, with only five points separating the first six boats!! Monaco continues to smile on the Italian Luca Domenici (skipper of the NOTARO Team), crowned European Champion at YC Monaco in 2015.  Domenici was fast out of the starting blocks, posting a 4-1 on the first day and led the fleet going into Sunday’s racing.  However, their feverish pace diminished somewhat as their 6-9 tally at the conclusion of racing gave them just a one point win!

Russian J/70 woman skipper- Valerya Kovalenko at Monaco“The Russians are coming, the Russians are coming!”  That amusing refrain was part of a Cold War movie comedy about Americans reacting to a beached Russian submarine off the fishing village of Gloucester, MA. In the case of the J/70 class at the Monegasque winter series, it’s not only the Russians coming ashore, it’s the Swiss, British, Germans, Italians and Brazilians that are flying around in waves of brilliant sailing!  Perhaps the most remarkable story evolving at this year’s event is, in fact, about a Russian!  A Russian woman, at that! For the second Act running, the top women sailor was Russia’s Valerya Kovalenko, skippering her ARTTUBE into second overall.  In fact, after three races, her smokin’ hot 3-3-1 record was leading the fleet.  Unfortunately, her team took an uncharacteristic 14th place in the last race to lose the regatta by just one point; but, more importantly, it was good enough to break a tie-breaker over Charles Thompson’s British crew racing BRUTUS- the winners of the last race!  Valerya certainly did not make it easy on herself, but apparently was quite elated with the outcome!

Starting off slowly on the first day, Thompson’s British team were pretty far down the leaderboard at the start of Sunday’s racing.  Nevertheless, after sailing an amazing 3-1 to wind up the series, Team BRUTUS from Royal Southern YC were ecstatic with nearly pulling off a bid for the overall win!

With three different nations representing the top three, it’s fitting two more rounded out the top five.  What is notable is that “sailing league” participants in the dozen-plus European countries are going up a very, very steep learning curve.  Evidence of that were the Swiss team performances; with Fredrik Hedlund’s AGERA 3 from Buchillon YC sailing to an extremely consistent scoreline of 5-6-7-5 for 23 pts, the only boat to have all single-digit finishes in the entire fleet.  Fellow countryman, Stephane Meylan from Société Nautique de Geneve, sailed CER 3 APROTEC into 6th overall, just 2 pts back!  Taking fourth place was the Brazilian team on MANDACHUVA, skippered by Mario Soerensen-Garcia from YC Rio de Janeiro.

The 2015 European Vice-Champion, Stefano Roberti’s PICCININA, was the leader of the Monegasque armada (comprising 11 entrants) by finishing 8th place.  The top German team was Jan Nurnberger’s Bayerischer YC crew on UNITED DOMAINS, taking 13th place.

The next Monaco Sportsboat Winter Series regatta is 13-15 January 2017.  For many, their New Year’s resolutions for 2017 will be to secure top step of the podium at the famous Primo Cup-Trophée Credit Suisse (2-5 February 2017).  For more YC Monaco Winter Sportsboat Series sailing information