Jean Genie, winner of the 2023 edition of the Scandinavian Gold Cup. Photo credit: Robert Deaves
Jean Genie wins 2023 edition of the Scandinavian Gold Cup
The Scandinavian Gold Cup, an event organised by the YCCS together with the International 5.5 Metre Class, came to a conclusion today. After three days of racing and four races held in total, the British team on Jean Genie (GBR 43, Peter Morton, Andrew Palfrey, Ruairidh Scott) claimed the prestigious trophy at the end of a hard-fought final clash with New Moon III (BAH 25, Mark Holowesko, Christoph Burger, Peter Vlasov).
The fleet of nine participating boats faced three challenging days. Day one was characterised by light air and saw the team on New Moon III take victory. The following day, after a long wait and a cancelled first race, the teams competed in a Mistral wind of 16-18 knots. Winner of that second day was the crew on Jean Genie, with Peter Morton at the helm, and Ruairidh Scott on board alongside Olympic sailor Andrew Palfrey.
Yesterday, 23rd September, racing proved to be impossible due to a Mistral wind blowing at 25 knots, which is the limit set for the 5.5 Metre Class.
The remaining races required to determine the winner of the Scandinavian Gold Cup were held today, Sunday 24th September. With New Moon III and Jean Genie having secured their places in the final thanks to victories in the preceding days, the teams took to the water this morning with the aim of notching up a win in order to continue in the competition. The first starting signal was sounded at 9.30 a.m. on the race course off Porto Cervo Marina in a Mistral wind of around 9 knots. Jean Genie chose the left side of the course for an excellent start, and went on to lead the entire race, trailed by Aspire (POL 17, Mateusz Kusznierewicz, Przemysław Gacek, Edward Wright) and the team on New Moon III, who then managed to inch past the Polish boat at the finish line.
Jean Genie, with two first places, and New Moon III, with one win, went on to meet in the final, with the Scandinavian Gold Cup going to the first team to claim three victories. New Moon III engaged Jean Genie in a match race duel in the pre-start phase, looking to gain any advantage over an opponent who only needed one more victory to clinch the overall win. After the starting signal the two immediately went into battle, marking each other closely and completing around 20 tacks each on the first leg alone. Jean Genie was first around the windward mark followed, about 45 seconds later, by New Moon III. Jean Genie's new hull, developed with designer Dave Hollom, proved particularly fast in winds of more than 10 knots, allowing the team to gradually increase their lead right up to the finish line, which they crossed first to clinch the prestigious trophy.
Peter Morton, helmsman on Jean Genie: "Winning today is a fantastic feeling. This is a unique event with a special format, where only the wins in the first three races count. We managed to take first place in the last three races sailed, without ever having a boat in front of us. I have to admit that our new hull performed really well, particularly in 10-12 knots of wind. We are really thrilled!"
With four consecutive victories, Joker (FRA 50, Adrien Polaillon, Eric Polaillon, Jean-Baptiste Polaillon) claimed the Hankø Evolution Cup, while the team on Cibele (ITA 72, Fabrizio Cavazza, Vittorio Zaoli, Duccio Colombi) took home the Royal Kaag Classic Cup.
As the Scandinavian Gold Cup concluded, the final prize-giving ceremony was followed by the opening ceremony for the International 5.5 Metre Class World Championship, which is set to run until 29th September.
Porto Cervo has already played host to the 5.5 Metre Class for the 1984 World Championships, and the winner from that edition, Philippe Dürr, has returned to Porto Cervo this year, helming Shaolin alongside team mates Andreas Kindlimann and Hans Von Werdt. A total of 34 teams are enrolled in the World Championship, representing 10 nations, including all the participants in the Scandinavian Gold Cup, who have been getting used to racing on the waters of the Costa Smeralda over the past few days.
The event is characterised by a sporting and competitive atmosphere, and in addition to double Olympic medallist Mateusz Kusznierewicz, the fleet includes champions and veterans such as Olympic Star Class sailor Flavio Marazzi on Ali Baba, who will be sailing with his daughters, Anthony Shanks on Black & White, Pavlos Kagialis, bronze medallist at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro on Melx III, Philippe Dürr, a champion in the 6 Metre Class on many occasions aboard Shaolin, Italy's Duccio Colombi on Cibele, and Kristian Nergaard, the most-crowned winner of all time in the 5.5 Metre Class, who last won the world title in Newport, Australia, in 2020. Also taking part are several former World Championship winning boats such as John B, Marie-Françoise XXII and Ali Baba.
In addition to the 23 Moderns, the fleet also includes 6 Classic hulls, which will compete for "The Quail Trophy", as well as 5 Evolution models vying for the "Frank Tolhurst Perpetual Trophy".
With the intention of encouraging more women to helm the 5.5 Metres at the World Championship, a new trophy has been introduced for the top-ranked female helm. Up for the new award this week will be Louise Morton on Girls on Film, and Maria Cristina Rapisardi on 5billy5.
"We are delighted to be hosting the International 5.5 Metre Class, the atmosphere of this event, with its wonderful sense of sportsmanship, is really special, as are the owners and sailors. The weather conditions during the Scandinavian Gold Cup were challenging but today was a spectacular final day with sunshine and a Mistral wind. The forecast for the week ahead looks favourable to guarantee the right amount of fun at sea, and I wish all the participating crews fair winds!" commented YCCS Commodore Michael Illbruck.
Louise Morton, President of the International 5.5 Metre Class: "I would like to thank Commodore Michael Illbruck and the YCCS team for organising the Scandinavian Gold Cup and the World Championship for the Class. It is truly a pleasure to work with such a professional team in one of the greatest racing locations in the world. The last time the 5.5 Metre Class was in Porto Cervo was in 1984, and today we still have some of the participants from that edition such as Gavin McKinney, Bob Stoddard and Philippe Dürr, World Champion that year. I can't wait for this World Championship to get underway, both on the water and ashore with a number of social events planned."
Ten windward-leeward fleet races are scheduled, to be completed over the five days of the event. The first starting signal is scheduled for tomorrow, 25th September, at 12 noon, with northerly winds of 8-10 knots forecast.
The Yacht Club Costa Smeralda will use MarkSetBot robotic buoys for the International 5.5 Metre World Championship, which maintain their position thanks to an electric motor combined with a GPS system, eliminating the need for anchors on the seabed.
Quantum Sails is Technical Partner of the International 5.5 Metre Class World Championship.