Light winds and warm sun were the order of the day for the start of the Société Nautique de Genève’s Annual Regatta at Sea which is being held at La Trinité sur Mer in Southern Brittany from 31 to 31 May and features the International Six Metre Class. Forty-three teams from across Europe and North America are entered for the competition and the fleet is split into two groups, the Open Division for the Modern Sixes of which there are 19 and the Classic Division of which there are 23.
The fleet represents one of the largest gatherings of Six Metres in several years, both in terms of the number of countries represented, with entrants from across Europe and North America, and the quality of the fleet with virtually all the world’s top Six Metre crews present.
The early morning sun was most welcome, but initially winds were very light. Fortunately by early afternoon the sea breeze was building and the race committee was able to start the first of two excellent races in southerly winds of 5-8 knots. Both races were run on two lap windward leeward courses and with some interesting shifts and a lot of boats to contend with the helms and tacticians had plenty to think about, whilst the trimmers needed to stay focused and constantly change gears as the conditions fluctuated.
The Open Division for the Modern Sixes got underway at the first time of asking, but the Classic Division was a little over eager and had to be recalled for a second attempt. Second time around almost everyone was well behaved with only a few individual recalls. Once underway both races were nip and tuck all the way round the course and the many spectator boats jostled for position to best enjoy the spectacle.
Winner of the first race in the Open Division was Nayl Driss helming local boat Tsigane in the absence of owner Stefan O’Reilly-Hayland who sadly cannot be here this week due to a recent foot injury. Tisagne had managed to eek out a small lead coming into the line, but behind her the battle for second place was extremely close with Yann Marilley’s Pelle Petterson designed Junior No Limit Yacht, Paul Smith’s Valhalla, designed by Peter Norlin, and Jali Makila’s Jane Ann, another Pelle Petterson design, crossing the line neck and neck. Ultimately the race committee confirmed it was Junior No Limit Yacht second, Valhalla third and Jane Ann fourth.
After racing Valhalla’s owner Paul Smith noted “The sailing water is marvelous and we’ve got 43 boats which is one of the best turnouts since about the year 2000. The number of boats is great and the level of competition is as good as I’ve ever seen it so its very exciting to be here and to sail in such a delightful place.” (Full interview below).
The second Open Division race was won confidently by Valhalla who was followed across the line by Jane Anne with Bertie Bicket’s Petterson designed Scoundrel One third and Ben Clothier’s Battlecry, designed by Ian Howlett, fourth.
In the overall standings for the Open Division Valhalla leads the fleet on four points with Jane Ann second on six points and Tsigane and Junior No Limit Yacht sharing seven points apiece, but Tisagne taking third place on count back.
In the Classic Division Eric Jespersen’s Llanoria, designed by Olin Stephens and arguably one of the best Sixes ever built, dominated the fleet winning both races to take the overall lead. Whilst Llanoria had the ultimate in consistent days, for the many in the Classic Division the results were a rather mixed bag.
ISMA Chairman Matt Brooks, helming the 1931 Clinton H Crane designed Lucie, took second place in the first race but then struggled to find traction in the second, finishing tenth. Andy Postle and his team aboard Titia, a 1952 David Boyd design, took second in race two but had only managed 24th in the opener leaving them well down the rankings overall. More consistent was Louis Heckly’s Astree, launched in 1951 to a Bjarne Aas design, whose third and fourth places put her neatly into second overall five points behind Llanoria. Also consistent was Thomas Kuhmann sailing the 1946 Camper & Nicholson designed and built Mena, who scored a fifth followed by a third and so now lies a single point behind Astree in third with Lucie two further points back in fourth.
Two final races for the SNG Annual Regatta at Sea are scheduled tomorrow with an anticipated first start time of 11.00. Sadly it looks as if the sun may desert the fleet as Sunday’s forecast is for overcast weather with rain showers and initially south westerly winds of 18-25 knots, veering north west and dropping off a little later in the day.
The SNG Annual Regatta at Sea concludes tomorrow with the formal prize giving at 18.30 in the regatta marquee. This will be followed by the Opening Ceremony for the International Six Metre World Championship which commences on Monday 1 June and continues until Friday 5 June.