In postcard-perfect 13-17 knot southerly winds under sunny Croatian skies, the three classes of the 2019 D-Marin ORC World Championship today enjoyed close competition in two races now added to the series scoreboard. And in three races - yesterday's long offshore and today's two inshores - new leaders have emerged in the series.
Racing on the northern Bravo course area due west of the harbor at Sibenik, Class A's fastest-rated boat - Marco Serafini's 2011 Botin-designed TP 52 XIO - made it look easy with wins scored in both races. But a closer look at the detailed results tells a different story: their margins of victory were extremely close in the 1 hour of racing time, only 33 seconds in the first race over yesterday's race winner, Roberto Monti's Judel/Vrolik-designed TP 52 Air is Blue, and only 40 seconds in the second race over Giovanni Labini's GS 46R Luduan Reloaded.
"There's no margin for error at all," says XIO navigator Ian Moore. "We cannot make any mistakes because we are not racing our rivals directly, we are racing the clock, and there's plenty of talent in this class, especially in conditions like today," referring to the moderate steady breeze, flat water, and relatively uncrowded open course area for the 13 teams competing in Class A.
Class B on course area Alpha to the south of Sibenik had what course area PRO Denis Marinov said were two "perfect" races. "The wind built slightly from the morning, but it was steady and stable, we started on time, there were no individual or general recalls, no course changes needed. There may have been a slight ½ knot current from the south, maybe this kept everyone back, but the line was really square, and everyone was on it with space at each starting signal. I was really surprised, but pleased because we got two great races done today."
As in Class A, there was one team winning both races in Class B too: Andrea Rossi's Swan 42 Mela. And like XIO in Class A, the margins were tight...in fact, very tight in the first race, with the runner-up - yesterday's long race winner Massimo De Campo's Swan 42 Selene-Alifax - overlapped at the finish and losing by a mere 9 seconds in corrected time.
"We sailed really well today, with strong starts and executing our game plan in each race," said tactician Enrico Zennaro. "This was to go left, tack with a small margin to the layline, and cross everyone, and it worked." The teamwork on Mela was also helped by their active participation and success in class one-design racing, where they earned their title as European Champions in last year's class championship in Porto Cervo.
"The class racing pushes us to know the boats well, and they do well in ORC anyway, so its no surprise we are all three [Swan 42's] in the top rankings in this class," said Zennaro. And despite their strong results today, the team's 11th place in the non-discardable long race yesterday means they still trail rival Swan 42's Selene-Alifax and Albert Franci's Digital Bravo by several points in the standings.
"We still have a lot of work to do," admitted Zennaro.
Class C on course area Alpha was not nearly as well-behaved as Class B, with race manager Ariane Mainemarie having to pull out the Black Flag to tame this largest crowd in the regatta with 50 boats. Former Olympian Lorenzo Bodini, tactician on Aivar Tuulberg's custom Cossutti-designed 37-footer Katariina II, the reigning ORC European Champion, said the starts are really tough.
"If someone messes you up, you can protest, but what's the point, you just need to get off the line clean because if you are not, the race is impossible to catch up," he said.
Today's leader in the class seemed to avoid this problem by having clean lanes to let the boat do the work and good tactical calls to emerge with an impressive score of 1-2 on the day. Zdenek Jakoubek's red-orange M37 Hebe V may be hard to miss on the crowded start lines, but skipper Petr Fiala would also credit the windy conditions today for their success, which nonetheless was by a small 28-second margin in Race 1. In contrast, their loss to yesterday's long race winner Ott Kikkas's Italia 11.98 Sugar 3 in the second race was by 1:12 in over an hour of racing.
"We are very good in this breeze," he said, "and the crew knows the boat well. We expect windy conditions again tomorrow, so we hope to have another good day."
Tomorrow's forecast suggests even windier southerlies of up to 20 knots, so race organizers have opted to schedule three inshore races for the day and push the next short coastal race to Friday, whose forecast at this stage is not so promising with very light wind predicted. A final buoy race will conclude the series on Saturday when the new World Champions will be crowned.
For complete results, visit the event's results page at https://data.orc.org/public/WEV.dll?action=index&eventid=WORLDS19