Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Glorious Sailing @ Yachting Russia Cup

J/80 sailing Yachting Russia Cup (Riva del Garda, Italy)- Each year, the principal yachting magazine in Russia- YACHT RUSSIA- hosts their annual Yachting Russia Cup on the famous “wind factory” known as Lago di Garda.  Fraglia Vela Riva, the local yacht club is renowned for hosting European and World-class event off the shores of Riva del Garda at the northern end of the lake.

The Yachting Russia Cup is unique in its format since it is sailed as fleet racing in J/70s, J/80s and CB66s with live judging on the water.  There are 32 teams with 140 sailors in total that rotate in two shifts, Alpha and Bravo, for three days of qualifying.  Then the top half sail in their fleets for the winners of each class.  Twelve teams were racing J/80s and eight teams were racing J/70s.

The first day of racing started on Sunday, April 22nd and the last day ended on Thursday, April 26th. Top social media and yachting “empress” from Russia, Elena Otekina, provided the reports and play-by-play here for the event.

J/80 sailors at Yachting Russia CupDay 1- Sunday
Thanks to the sunny and hot weather on the first race day, the “wind factory” worked almost without interruption. The main local wind- the “ora” that blows in from the south- began to blow in the morning to the surprise of everyone. At the beginning, it was extremely unstable and weak, but by noon, it was up to 15-18 knots and continued building until racing was finished for the day. In both groups, Alpha in the morning and Bravo in the afternoon, three races were held for all fleets.

The Alpha group in J/80s was a tight fleet, with a lot of the strongest teams in close company; including the winner of last year's Yachting Russia Cup- Vladimir Bodrikova. At the end of the first race, almost the entire fleet came in to the finish at the same time and it was nearly impossible to sort first from last in the photo finish.

In the J/70s, Yuri Firsov’s team was able to win the first day with 1-3-1 for 5 pts.  However, they were tied on points with Igor Puzanov’s DREAM TEAM that posted a 2-1-2 for 5 pts, too.

After lunch, the Bravo teams took to the water.  Unlike the morning Alpha crews, they did not have to wait and suffer from the lack of wind and unpredictable wind shifts.

In the J/80s, COMPUTEL’s Andrei Samoylov left nothing for chance to their rivals. Despite an over early in the first race, Samoylov’s team managed to post all firsts on day one.  Second was Roman Gorev’s ICEBERG team from St Petersburg and third was the team from Kaliningrad- Sergei Ezhikov’s TEAM EZHIKI.

In the Bravo J/70 group, Boris Mashunkin’s YES TEAM duplicated the record of their comrades in the J/80s, winning all three races! The team of Renata Hejdera sat in second place, third was Sergei Golofast, and fourth Timothy Zubkov’s TESTAROSSA team.

On Sunday night, there was a holiday dinner for all teams to celebrate the opening of regatta in one of the best restaurants of Riva del Garda- “Osteria la Contrada”- with unlimited quantities of wine and prosecco!!

J/70 sailing Yachting Russia CupDay 2- Monday
Monday’s racing was a study of contrasts.  Unlike the previous day, the morning Bravo group was able to run 4 races per class.  Meanwhile, after lunch, the famous “Ora” did not appear in the afternoon for the Alpha group; leaving them just a single race in an extremely gusty and unstable local breeze that turned the race into a lottery!

The first Bravo group race started in the morning north wind (the “Pelére”), but at the height of the race, the wind died down, and then changed direction to the opposite. The race had to stop and wait for the stabilization of the temperate southeasterly wind that the locals called the “Venedez.”

As a result, three long and one short race consisting of one windward-leeward loop were completed. Reveling in the conditions were the gangsters from Kaliningrad- Sergei Ezhikov’s TEAM EZHIKI.  They managed to win all four races in the variable morning wind conditions. Such a brilliant performance led the team to become the new leaders of group.  In fact, on total points they were tied with Andrei Samoylov’s COMPUTEL team that had dropped to second place after posting three 2nds and a 3rd for the day.

J/70s sailing Lake Garda, ItalyIn the J/70 class, the leader of the first day, Boris Mashunkin’s YES TEAM managed to keep first place with two 4ths and two 1st places. But, they were tied on points with Sergei Golofast’s FASTER TEAM, with two 2nds and two 1sts! Sitting in third place was Zubkov’s TESTAROSSA team.

After the lunch, the Alpha group had to wait for their start for more than two hours.  Then, after three hours, they were finally given just one race; one that generated a lot of anxiety amongst the leading teams. The wind seemed to come from all directions, starting at 90 degrees, then 180 degrees. To guess which way to go was absolutely impossible; someone in this lottery was going to get the lucky ticket, others would lose a lot. Throughout the race, almost every team were winners and losers, and the outcome depended only on the game of chance.

In J/80 Alpha group, the leader of the first day- Vladimir Bodrikov’s ALEONORA- had a roller-coaster performance, including a last place, but managed to hang on to their lead.  Moving into second place were Alexander Smagljuk’s crew from Krasnodar and the MAESTRO crew skippered by Konstantin Nazarenko moved up to third place.

In J/70 Alpha group, Boris Burmentiev won the race and climbed to third place in the final standings. The first and second places were retained by the teams of Yuri Firsov’s FIRSOV SAILING and Igor Puzanov’s DREAM TEAM.

J/80 sailing on Lake Garda, ItalyDay 3- Tuesday
The three-day qualifying series was now complete and the fleet was divided into Gold and Silver for the Grand Finale that would take place over the next two days.

After a difficult day with the wind on Tuesday, the “ora” wind factory appeared again, starting with about 6-8 kts in the morning and increasing to 16-18 kts by afternoon with gusts well into the low 20s!

In total, all four scheduled races for the morning group (Alpha) and two races for the Bravo group were held. The afternoon racing saw a number of spectacular broaches by the less experienced teams.

Winning the J/80 Alpha group was Vladimir Bodrikov’s ALEONORA, posting a 2-2-1-4 to win by a large margin.  The balance of the qualifiers on the podium included Alexander Smagljuk and Dmitry Kurshina’s SEABEAR team from Moscow.

The J/70 Alpha group saw no change in the standings after their four races. The top two qualifiers were Yuri Firsov and Igor Puzanov’s DREAM TEAM, both scoring two 1sts and two 2nds!

The Bravo group got the strongest and steadiest wind of the day; two long distance races were held, which allowed the teams to enjoy high-speed planing under the gennakers back and forth across the lake!

In the J/80 Bravo group, the two leaders did not change, with Sergei Ezhikov’s ESHIKI winning and Andrey Samoylov’s COMPUTEL in second.  However, in third place there was a change, with Roman Gorev’s ICEBERG taking the final spot on the podium.

The J/70s saw some epic broaching in the first race.  However, nothing was going to slow down Sergey Golofast’s FASTER TEAM from winning with a final 3-1.  Meanwhile, Mashunkin’s YES TEAM maintained their second position to qualify for the Gold fleet finale.

J/80s sailing Lake Garda, Italy - Russia Yachting CupDay 4- Wednesday- Grand finale I
On the first day of the finals, the moment of truth finally arrived. On Wednesday morning, the best teams of the Alpha and Bravo teams met in the Gold Fleet on the water, and after lunch, the crews of the Silver Fleet got to compete against each other.

Again the whole lake was covered with haze, so the convection of the air necessary for the emergence of the “Ora” did not work. However, the southeastern “Venedez” that reached 15-18 knots in the afternoon rescued the participants. As a result, four dynamic races were held for both Gold and Silver fleets.

With the top six crews all racing in the J/80 Gold division, no one was sure who was going to rise to the top.  Nevertheless, the J/80 Alfa group leader, Sergei Ezhikov’s EZHIKI had a bad day, posting a 4-3-3-5 to finish in third for the day.  As Ezhikov explained, “we go crushed at the start of the first race and got a 4th.  Then, everything somehow went wrong, bad mark roundings, a tear in the spinnaker and a terrible fourth race.”

J/70s sailing upwind on Lake Garda, ItalySimilarly, the leader of the J/80 Bravo group had an even worse day. Vladimir Bodrikov’s ALEONORA ended up in 4th place in the Gold fleet after posting a 6-5-4-3. According to Bodrikov, “everything that could go wrong, did go wrong for us! We had a false start, a drowned (shrimped) gennaker and bad tactical mistakes. We hope to rise from the depths of despair and have a brighter day tomorrow! The crew is not discouraged and we promise that we will compete for prizes and get on the podium!”

The most impressive performance of the day was Andrei Samoylov’s COMPUTEL, posting all bullets!  Not surprisingly, after posting four 2nds, it was Roman Gorev’s ICEBERG that closed the day in second place.

Like their classmates in the J/80s, the J/70 Gold fleet was dominated by Igor Puzanov’s DREAM TEAM, also posting an unassailable record of 1-1-1-2 for a comfortable first day lead.  Yuri Firsov’s had a rough start to the day, to say the least!  Off the starting line in the first race, they were over early, and then hooked their keel on the anchor line of the port end boat!  After taking a last in the first race, they acquitted themselves by climbing rapidly into contention with a 2-2-1 for the day, sitting in second place. In third place was the J/70 Bravo group winner, Sergei Golofast’s FASTER TEAM.  Fourth was Boris Mashunkin’s YES TEAM.

In the Silver Fleet, the fight was very close in both fleets.  However, with the strong breeze, boathandling issues were paramount with the less experienced crews; plenty of shrimped kites, epic broaches, and unfortunate collisions with out-of-control boats.  Nevertheless, everyone made it home safe to lick their wounds and repair the boats for the final day.  Leading the J/80 Silver division was Boris Yudin’s 40-PLUS with a 2-2-2-4.  In the J/70 Silver division, it was Boris Burmentiev’s team leading with a 1-1-4-3.

J/70s sailing upwind on Lake Garda, Italy- Russia CupDay 5- Thursday- Grand Finale II
The final day of racing for both Gold and Silver fleets saw a total of four more races sailed for each, thanks to another good day of winds from the famous “Ora”.  After eight races, it was quite clear that Puzanov’s DREAM TEAM in the J/70s was going to run away with the class honors, adding a 2-1-1-1 to finish with just 8 pts net, seven pts clear of the next boat.  In a similar fashion, Firsov’s team had already redeemed themselves after their horrific start to the final series the day before.  After closing with a 1st yesterday, Firsov started with a 1st on the final day and finished with scores of 1-2-3-4 for 15 pts net to take the silver.  Rounding out the podium was Golofast’s FASTER TEAM from Moscow.

The J/80 Gold fleet experienced a “white-wash” or “blitzkrieg”, depending on your point of view.  In short, after posting all bullets for seven races, Samoylov’s COMPUTEL TEAM from Moscow sailed home and took a DNS in their last race to finish with 7 pts net for a comfortable win.  Gorev’s ICEBERG crew maintained their consistency to post a steady 3-4-3-1 for a total of 15 pts net to take home the silver.  However, behind them it was an all-out battle for the final spot on the podium.  In fact, whoever beat whom in the last race would determine the final outcome.  Taking the bronze after a ferocious last race was Bodrikov’s ALEONORA, his 3rd place cemented by a 3rd in the last race.  Losing that battle was Ezhikov’s EZHIKI, posting a 4th in the finale to drop to 4th overall.

In the J/80 Silver fleet, nothing changed after four more races, with Yudin’s 40-PLUS winning, followed by Boris Lysenko’s KREBIAN RACING I in second and Nazarenko’s MAESTRO TEAM in third place.

Similarly, the J/70 Silver fleet saw Burmentiev’s team hold on to their lead to win their division. Taking the silver was Vadim Korkovidov’s LETJAT KIRPICHI and it was Zubkov’s TESTAROSSA taking the bronze.
J/70 Yachting Russia Cup winner

J/70 winner- Igor Puzanov on DREAM TEAM interview

J/80 winner- Andrei Samoylov on COMPUTEL interview

Sailing photo & story credits- Elena Otekina   For more YACHT RUSSIA magazine information  Follow YACHT RUSSIA on Facebook here Add to Flipboard Magazine.