Yesterday saw the last day of the 2003 Swan European Regatta, with Filip BALCAEN'S Swan 56 Aqua Equinox taking overall Swan European title and winner of Class A, having achieved podium position in four out of the five day's of this regatta.
This impressive Belgian Swan took the 55 strong fleet by storm, fighting off the constantly competitive Swan 45's and the experienced Swan 60 Island Fling. Balcaen, who purchased his Swan in 1999, had a mixed crew with three professionals, including Nautor Challenge Watch Captain, Boewe BEKKING, and the remainder amateur. Balcaen was obviously delighted with his result: "I am thrilled with our win and very happy for my crew. I think we won because of our consistency and because we didn't make too many mistakes throughout the whole week. You can always improve on the small things, but it is the tactical decisions that matter and that's what we got right."
He continued: " I think that sailing in these Swan regattas is a necessity - competing against all the other Swans is fantastic! The Race Committee here has done a wonderful job, with difficult conditions. It was a very professional and well organised event."
After racing was abandoned on Wednesday due to extremely light winds, the Race Committee was keen to complete two races today to ensure the discard came into play. The Swan 45's, Island Fling and Aqua Equinox dominated Class A yet again. The strong tides played a major tactical role, forcing the fleet to split as the Swan 45's took the better wind and the bigger boats took the weaker tide in the first race. It was Glynn WILLIAMS' Swan 45 WISC that eventually won making a valiant attempt to catch Aqua Equinox on the leaderboard. The second race was delayed as the Race Committee waited for the breeze to fill in. Eventually the start gun was fired for a new course taking both fleets west on a 10 nm course for Class A and a 8.75 nm course for Class B. Aqua Equinox visibly relaxed and ended the race in sixth position, allowing Island Fling and WISC their last stab at glory. It was WISC that crossed the line first securing their position as second overall in the regatta and in Class A.
The fight for winner of Class B was undertaken to the bitter death, with the three favourites, Stephen JAMES' Swan 48 Jacobite, Libby DEEGAN'S Swan 441 Menenes and Alain FOULQUIER'S Swan 441 Saga battling it out from the moment the start gun was fired. After the eventual tussle between Jacobite and Menenes, in both races, it was Libby DEEGAN'S Swan 441, that claimed the Class B title, beating her second position in 2001: "I am so glad we beat Jacobite! The Solent is hard when you are trying to win short races, but we managed to just pip them to the post. I definitely think our local knowledge has been useful, and having Jo RICHARDS [GBR Challenge Design Team] onboard really helped us with any tactical decisions."
She added: "I think the 'ClubSwan' is a big draw. It is such a nice class to be involved in - everybody's very friendly. We have met lots of people over the last few days and it will be great to see them again and again at all the other Swan events."
As the event draws to a close, Nautor's Marketing Director, Enrico CHIEFFI looks back over a successful regatta: "The participation in this edition of the Swan European Regatta has been good - it is a very special regatta within our racing circuit because it is the most sporting. With 10 nations represented, we have crews that can handle so many different types of conditions providing a broad mix of experience and knowledge."
He continued: "There was a fantastic atmosphere - we have 55 boats here and the feeing is of one big family, enjoying racing on the water and then returning to the marina to enjoy the regatta bar and recount the day's stories! The spirit of this regatta is not of professional sailing, but of good competitive amateur sailing. It is not about extremes, but about enjoyment by everyone."
Full, class by class results are available on the event website at the address below.