Under crystal clear Croatian skies, racing has started in the 2011 ORCi World Championship, with the Croatian Grand Soleil 56R Marina Kastela taking the early lead against 55 rivals in Class A. This is the first of six days of racing in the championship series, which concludes on Saturday, 25 June.
Runner-up was the Action Team's TP52 Anniene 1er Classe
from Italy, and in third Roberto Monti's Felci-designed GP42 Airis
, also from Italy. In corrected time over the 8-mile course, the results were very close: Kastela was 31 seconds ahead of Anniene, who was 17 seconds ahead of Airis, who in turn was only one second ahead of Piero Panicia's Cookson 50 Calipso IV
. In fact, the top ten places were all within 1:06 in corrected time using Performance Curve Scoring, with the course adjusted for the reaching leg.
"Of course we are very happy with today's start to the regatta,"
said Marina Kastela helmsman Mate Arapov, a former Laser Olympian from Croatia. "But it is only the first of many races to the series, and we have far to go."
In a class of 55 entries, the Class A start on day one was very crowded, but Arapov and his team had a very good start on the right side of the line and were able to get away from the pack in clear air. This set them up for being in the right place at the right time, since the next big shift was to the right on the 2-mile leg, vaulting them ahead by the first mark.
"I'm most happy with the teamwork today,"
said Arapov, "since we only all came together for the first time to race this boat on Saturday. But this gives me confidence for the remainder of the series, and that we may have a good chance for a place on the podium."
While Class A was en route to their windward mark, Principal Race Officer Bojan Gale had his hands full with Class B, whose 63 entries over-charged the starting line, prompting a general recall as the wind shifted further to the right, prompting a re-orientation of the starting line.
But before another starting sequence could begin, Class A was already headed towards the leeward gate, positioned just to windward of the starting line, now on a high speed spinnaker reach due to the shift, leaving no room for the new class to proceed on the new upwind leg.
In fact, the tight mark roundings at the gate mark got a little too tight at times, especially in an incident where the bowsprit on Giancarlo Zannier's Arya 415 White Goose
from Italy could not quite keep clear of Nick Sinouris's Comet 41S Aristofani
from Greece, in full view of the spectator fleet.
The breeze then diminished further so that only Class A could finish their final lap of the course, and so with his sights set elsewhere, Gale led the fleet three miles west in search of the new thermal breeze. Unfortunately, this breeze never materialized with enough stability to set a second race course, so the fleet retired after an afternoon in the warm Croatian sun.
Tomorrow's start to the middle and long offshore races may also be in light air, according to the current forecast, so race managers are exploring course options tonight to announce to the fleet in the morning. The ORC "Green Book" standards specify a score weighting of 1.25 for the middle distance and 1.75 for the long distance race, where the middle distance is determined at a scoring gate within the long race. At least four inshore and one offshore race or three inshore and two offshore races are required for the series to constitute a World Championship.
"We will spend tonight looking carefully over the weather forecast,"
says Arapov, "and what the possible course options will be."