Perfect sailing conditions and warm sunshine were the order of the day for the last racing day of the GARDA TRENTINO ISAF grade 1 open Match Race, organised by the Fraglia Vela Riva in conjunction with the International Sailing Federation (ISAF).
Jesper RADICH (DEN) won the event, defeating Ed BAIRD (USA) by 3-2. It was a tough and exciting duel - with shifting winds, a change of course, gear failure and a protest against the Race Committee discussed on the finish line.
In the morning the four top skippers from the round robins raced in the semifinals knock out series. Ed BAIRD (USA), winner of the rounds, chose Mark CAMPBELL-JAMES (GBR) as his opponent, while Jesper RADICH (DEN) raced against Mathieu RICHARD (FRA).
Around 12.45pm, when both matches were tied 1-1 and the wind was beginning to drop, the Race Committee decided to modify the format and end the semifinals with the first team to score 2 points instead of 3. In the decisive matches Baird won over Campbell-James and Radich had the best over Richard.
In the afternoon the wind increased again and Baird and Radich fought an intense duel. Baird won match one, but lost to Radich in match two. In the third match it was Baird to score the point again, reaching 2-1. In the following match, Baird's mainsail halyard broke during the first beat and Radich, ahead by one boat length at the time, sailed to his second win. Baird had do change boats and in the meantime the wind started to shift with sudden gusts all over the course due to an approaching thunderstorm. The Race Committee was forced to re-position the course for the decisive match of the finals. Radich was able to cross the finish line ahead of Baird, gaining - in theory - the final victory. Baird, however, protested the Race Committee for the starting procedure. While the crews returned to shore, the Jury and the Committee stayed out on the water to decide the outcome of the protest. Finally, Radich was able to celebrate with his crew (Rasmus WINSTON and Michael ARNHILD).
"It's been a really tough event",
commented Radich. "The level of the top competitors was extremely high - world class - with Baird, Richard and Cian having competed in the match racing worlds last August. On top of this, I never sailed before with this crew before. Today, the wind was extremely shifty, with 100° changes of direction. You can get lucky or very unlucky in these conditions and we tried to minimise the chances of losing. In the last race, we had two completely different winds on the course. We had an excellent start, chose to cover the right and were able to win".
In the petit final, raced with the "reduced" format (first to score 2 points), Campbell-James won the first match. Richard was then able to score 2 consecutive points, winning the petit final.
1. JESPER RADICH, DEN
2. ED BAIRD, USA
3. MATHIEU RICHARD, FRA
4. MARK CAMPBELL-JAMES, GBR
5. PAOLO CIAN, ITA
6. JOHNIE BERNTSSON, SWE
7. IAN WILLIAMS, GBR
8. MICHAEL DUNSTAN, AUS
9. ANDREW ARBUZOV, RUS
10. MAXIM TARANOV, RUS