For two classes on this final day of the 2019 D-Marin ORC World Championship, the fate of the podium positions would be in the hands of the wind gods: would there be enough wind for only one race? Of for two races? Or maybe none at all? Two races would trigger an inshore race discard for Classes A ad C, while Class B needed only one race for this feature that would alter the outcome of the final scores.
The day started warmer and more humid than usual, even with an earlier start time planned for 10:00 AM in the hope that races could be started in a breeze destined by the forecast to die out by mid-afternoon. But out in the Alpha and Bravo course areas the glassy conditions were not a good sign.
Eventually a 7-9 knot southerly built up and stabilized enough that a course was set and racing started in Class A and Class C. The podium situation in Class A was academic, with Marco Serafini's TP 52 XIO earning all bullets (a "picket fence") on the scoreboard, except for a lone second place in the first long offshore race. At stake was who would take the Silver and Bronze positions. Sandro Paniccia's Scuderia 50 Altair 3 would settle that with a 2ndearned in this race, and with Georgios Petrochilos's Swan 45 Ex Officio getting third, Roberto Monti and his team on their TP 52 Air is Blue were thankful their first place earned in the first race broke the tie with the Greeks and kept them in the Bronze position, the second time for Monti and team after a similar performance at the 2012 Worlds in Helsinki.
Besides Serafini, the winning team members were as follows: Gabriele Giardini, Paolo Marcaccini, Alessio Marinelli, Ian Moore, Matt Cornwell, Giovanni Cassinari, Claudio Celon, Jaro Furani, Domenico Aiello, Milan Vujasinovic, Federico Bressan, Virgillio Torrecilla Perez, and Thommaso Chieffi on tactics.
"This week was not as easy as it may have looked," said Chieffi, who was also on the Hurakan team with Sarafini in Ancona when they won the Worlds in 2013. "We had the fastest boat which gives us an edge to sail our own race, but the others were always close in time, so we had to be smart. The distance races were tricky too, and we had to pay attention carefully not to throw it away. Even today if the breeze had fallen to 6 knots, it could have been really hard.
"I want to also recognize Marco for his efforts at being our owner-helmsman. He drove maybe 70-80% of the races and did a great job in what was a really big variety of conditions: light air, windy, flat water and big waves."
Class B had just one race to trigger the discard, and this was important to determine the final order among the three Swan 42's in the podium positions in this class. Winning four out of the five inshore races was Andrea Rossi's Mela, and today's second was impressive as well, given that after 1.25 hours of sailing their loss was by only 3 seconds. Yet this team could never build enough gap with their rivals to overcome the 11th place finish in the first non-discardable long offshore race, and as a result they had to settle for Bronze medals.
So, it was the team who showed the strongest results both offshore and enough consistency inshore to win the overall prize in the end.
By a margin of five points, Massimo De Campo's Selene-Alifax who emerged as the 2019 ORC Class B World Champions, an honor shared among all members of the team: Michele Meotto, Camillo Galiano, Lorenzo Pujatti, Andrea Bussani, Branko Brcin, Alessandro Alberti, SergioMichieli, Alberto Leghissa, Fulvio Manuelli, Giovanni Battista Ballico, Massimo De Campo, and Pierclaudio De Martin.
And after a hard week of racing among their peers, the Silver medal position was earned by Alberto Franchi's Swan 42 Digital Bravo.
The most dramatic turn of events today was in Class C, where Zdenek Jakoubek's M37 Hebe V had an 8-point lead and looked assured of winning the title regardless of whether one or two races were held had they just remained consistent in their performance. Their string of two wins and three 2nd-places was impressive and consistent, and the team on Ott Kikkas's Italia 11.98 Sugar 3 seemed resigned to their fate of having to settle for a Silver medal despite having won three races outright, including the non-discardable series opener.
Helmsman Sandro Montefusco shrugged early this morning, saying "Well, those Czech guys sailed a really good series. We just need to sail well and do the best we can."
As any series leader knows, being in the lead coming into the final day can be really difficult, and the pressure can be enormous. The nerves can activate and the rhythm the team has built can get eroded fast with the addition of this pressure to win.
This is apparently what happened with the Hebe team, as they got entangled at the start, were late off the line, and were unable to find the lanes needed to recover to get back to the leaders. In a fleet of 50 boats this can be a disaster, and their 13thplace earned in this race pushed them back far enough to erode that points margin with Sugar 3, and had Maria Jose Vila Valero's GS 37BC Tanit IV Medilevel had their own problems to finish back in 10thplace, they may have been at risk to lose the Silver medal position as well to the Spanish who finished with Bronze.
So, with a scoreline of 1-7-1-3-4-1, the mixed Estonian-Italian team on Sugar 3 are the new ORC Class C World Champions. Besides Ott and Sandro, the Sugar 3 team members include: Paolo Montefusco, Matteo Polli, Maurizio Loberto, Paolo Bucciarelli, Siim Ots, and Marjaliisa Umb.
"Today we left the harbor in the hope of doing as much as possible to fight with Hebe on the water until the last moment," said Matteo Polli, designer of the Italia 11.98. "We knew it would be hard to get the Gold but we were ready for anything. For us it was also one of the first races we have done with the light wind [of today] and therefore we did not have much knowledge of the boat. In the end the boat did not disappoint, even in these conditions, and this allowed us to win the race.
"Its been a tough week out here, and mistakes can be made just as we did in the second race, so we want to congratulate our opponents for such an impeccable championship, we are honored to have fought with such a strong crew!"
Winners of the Corinthian Division of all-amateur teams in each class were Gianclaudio Bassetti's XP 44 WB Seven in Class A, Armando Pierdomenico's Farr 40 MP30+10 in Class B, and Tanit IV Medilevel in Class C.
"Besides our podium finishers, we congratulate all the sailors and teams who came to this year's World Championship," said ORC Chairman Bruno Finzi, who was on the International Jury this week. "We also congratulate the organizers, the sponsors, Race Committee, Measurers, Jury members and all the volunteers for their outstanding efforts to produce a fantastic event that will be remembered by all.
"We also want to invite all teams to next year's ORC-IRC World Championship at the New York Yacht Club in Newport USA. Dates are 25 September - 3 October, 2020. This will be a fantastic championship regatta and an excellent opportunity to bring your boat and your team to race against the best teams in America and beyond. It's a long distance to go, but the trip will be worth it to race in one of the world's most famous places to sail."
For more information on the D-Marin ORC Worlds, visit http://www.orcworlds2019.com