Aspire wins 5.5 Metre Alpen Cup at Torbole

Aspire wins 5.5 Metre Alpen Cup at Torbole

Aspire wins 5.5 Metre Alpen Cup at Torbole

Sport

30/04/2023 - 07:41

Aspire (POL 17, Mateusz Kusznierewicz, Przemysław Gacek, Ed Wright) has won the 5.5 Metre Alpen Cup at Circolo Vela Torbole after two more races were held on Saturday in light winds. Artemis (NOR 57, Kristian Nergaard, Johan Barne, Trond Solli-Sæther) did just enough to hang onto second overall while Shaolin (SUI 226, Flavio Marazzi, Hans von Werdt, Andreas Kindlimann) moved up to third. The race wins went to Marie-Françoise XXII (SUI 232, Jürg Menzi, Andreas Honegger, Kim Chabani) and Aspire.

In fact, the day belonged to Jürg Menzi and Marie-Françoise XXII with a first and a second. In both races he led round the top mark and would have probably won both races but for a major wind change on the final upwind in the last race.

It was a fitting end to the regatta for the man that started the event back in 2006 and donated the Alpen Cup, actually a platter rather than a cup. That year he won in SUI 217; the boat that is being sailed here by the Austrian team.

He said, "This Alpen Cup in Torbole is a great event. This year we had 17 boats from 10 countries worldwide including Australia and The Bahamas." It was a record entry in the history of the event.

"The Alpen Cup is now more than 15 years old. We organised it from Switzerland and up to now and every year the club was very interested in us and did a lot for the 5.5 Metre class. So, we like to come here, it's a great event for the opening of the season in Europe."

With an earlier scheduled start, the lake was windless on arrival in the early morning, but eventually a light breeze picked up and the fleet was sent out onto a somewhat murky Lake Garda, though the conditions improved through the day. The wind, however, remained light, never more than 8-9 knots.

New Moon III (BAH 25, Mark Holowesko, Christoph Burger, Peter Vlasov) had had a tough event so far with some good races mixed in. In the first race of the day, they got a great start to win the boat end, and tacked away to right, which had been crucial in every race so far. With great speed, they sailed away from the chasing fleet and must have been thinking this was their race.

However, Jürg Menzi fancied the left and went all the way across on his own and was almost out of sight in the bad visibility. When New Moon III finally tacked across, there was Marie-Françoise XXII, several 100 metres ahead and crossing in a big left shift. Menzi rounded with a big lead and was never under pressure, despite then sailing to the right on the second beat – those that went left gained a bit but not much. New Moon III had to follow Menzi to the finish, with John B (BAH 26 Gavin McKinney, Lars Horn Johannessen, Mathias Dahlman) making the best of the rest to cross in third.

In the final race, five boats ventured left again and again Marie-Françoise XXII led at the top, though this time by barely a boatlength. With several behind gybing away, they held on and had a nice lead at the gate and again headed back right. However, his luck was running out and those who chose the starboard gate mark sailed straight into pressure and a big left shift that kept on delivering. The biggest benefactors were Aspire and Shaolin. Aspire moved from around fourth of fifth to the lead, while Shalin moved up to third. Those on the right who bailed early lost even more, but Menzi hung on until the last minute and crossed across to round second. But Aspire was long gone.

There was an intense battle for third, with the fleet bunching up downwind, but eventually Shaolin protected her third place and took third overall.

Kusnierewicz said of the day, "It was quite lightish today. We finished sixth in the first race today, but we performed when it counted in the last one, which we won, so very happy with that.

"Last year we finished third in this regatta and this year winning it means a lot to me because I always like to improve. It's also important for us to build up towards the season. We have Przemysław and Ed Wright. Ed is the Finn World Champion, he won the Gold Cup in Miami, this January so we have a great atmosphere. We really enjoy sailing together." They have both won the Finn Gold Cup twice so far.

"For Team Aspire we just bought a Cape 31, so we will mix sailing in 5.5 and Cape 31 this year. My goal is to teach Przemysław how to steer the boat. We are in a process and he is slowly getting there and this is the two boat programme. In the 5.5 we will sail the Swiss Open, and then focus on the Gold Cup and World Championship, with a bit of training with New Moon and the Italian team on the Mediterranean."

In winning the event Aspire only finishing outside the top three twice, and only won two races. In fact, six different boats won races this week underlying how competitive the fleet is becoming.

"We feel that the level of the fleet is very high. We came to the class three years years ago and it was already challenging to be at the top in races and events, and this year the level is the highest. Many people are sailing fast and smart, and we are watching the others to see what we can learn such as Kristian Nergaard, the two British teams who are doing a great job and looks like they practice a lot on the Solent during the winter, while we are skiing, and also Mark Holowesko and his team on New Moon, they are sailing very well.

"I was also very happy to see Shaolin, helmed by our friend Flavio Marazzi, and they finished third in the regatta. So, winning this event means even more to us."

The Alpen Cup was the first event in the 2023 5 Nations Cup. The next event will be the French Open at Port Louis at the end of May followed by the Salzkammergutpreis in Austria, the Swiss Open at Grandson and the German Open at Tutzing. The highlight of the year however will be the Scandinavian Gold Cup and World Championship at Porto Cervo in September, which is already expecting a big turnout.

Final results after 8 races
1 Aspire (POL 17, Mateusz Kusznierewicz, Przemysław Gacek, Ed Wright) 17
2 Artemis (NOR 57, Kristian Nergaard, Johan Barne, Trond Solli-Sæther) 27
3 Shaolin (SUI 226, Flavio Marazzi, Hans von Werdt, Andreas Kindlimann) 29
4 John B (BAH 26 Gavin McKinney, Lars Horn Johannessen, Mathias Dahlman) 33
5 Girls On Film (GBR 41, Louise Morton, Frithjof Kleen, Sam Haines) 34

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