Perfect conditions for coastal racing in the Alexela ORC World Championship 2021
Today was the best sailing day yet in the Alexela ORC World Championship 2021, with a perfect westerly breeze of 12-22 knots under cloudless skies propelling the event’s three classes around courses set on the northern coast of Estonia. Class A raced on a 53-mile course, Class B a 45-mile course and Class C a 38-mile course, testing each team’s skills in navigation, sail selection, sail changes and sail trim. This style of racing is an important part of the ORC heritage of offshore sailing, so much so that unlike the inshore races, this and Monday’s long offshore race are non-discardable in the overall scores.
This is an important point on the penultimate day of competition, with the points totals now inviting speculation about tomorrow’s possible podium medalist candidates in each class. This is because with five inshore races completed after tomorrow’s first of two races, the scores will re-shuffle to reflect a discard of the worst inshore race score for each team. This serves to compress the points totals so that those who had one poor race are given a chance to close the gap with those who had been doing consistently well all week.
It’s an irony but part of the game.
In Class A today this compression in points occurred even without a discard: after 6 hours and 9 minutes of racing, Michael Berghorn’s Mills 45 HALBTROCKEN 4.5 defeated the larger and faster TP 52 OUTSIDER owned by Tillmar Hansen and skippered by Bo Teichmann by 4.5 minutes, thereby bringing these two German teams to 11 points each. All else being equal, OUTSIDER may have a slight edge going into tomorrow with a 4th place finish to discard in Race 4 compared to HALBTROCKEN’s 3rd place, but for sure tomorrow’s results will determine who will be Gold and who will be Silver on the podium tomorrow.
The results in Class B were much closer, with a new race winner on the top to help shuffle the standings since yesterday. Gorden Nickel’s X-41 SPORTSFREUND from Germany won the race by only 29 seconds over Aivar Tuulberg’s locally-based Swan 42 KATARIINA II, with Catalin Trandafir’s Grand Soleil 44 P ESSENTIA44 from Romania another 1 min 20 sec back. Since Tiit Vihul’s X-41 OLYMPIC from Estonia finished an non-discardable 6th in this race, the standings have reshuffled so that KATARIINA is now in second, two points behind the leader ESSENTIA44 and OLYMPIC now 5 points back. With a 6th place to discard in Race 2 while the others have only 4th’s and 5th’s to discard so far, ESSENTIA44 is in a strong position going into tomorrow.
With the Gold fleet now established, points carrying over from the qualifying heats and today’s results, the standings in Class C are very tight among the top three teams. Juss Ojala’s Estonian J-112E MATILDA was unbeatable yesterday, impressively winning all three inshore races in the Blue group. Today they slipped to a 4th place result, allowing today’s race winner PRO4U, Patrik Forsgren’s modified First 36.7 from Sweden, to come within two points of them in the standings. More crucially, PRO4U has a 6th place to discard from Race 3, whereas MATILDA and third-ranked SUGAR 3, Ott Kikkas’s Italia 11.98 that is only 3 points off the lead, have only 3rd places as their worse inshore race scores, so after tomorrow’s first race the standings may like tighten and reshuffle once again to set up for a final race showdown to determine the podium positions.
After getting their sails approved in a measurement check, the PRO4U team looked jubilant on the dock knowing this situation leading into tomorrow…but they also know it’s not over until it’s over, and there are two races to complete the event tomorrow with nothing in the forecast suggesting an interruption in this plan: the forecast is for moderate to strong wind strength for the final day.
“We have a good process with this team,” commented Forsgren, “so we will just keep with our process and try to stay calm.”
This is not easy to do for this all-Corinthian team: they have been very successful in numerous past ORC championship events – one Silver and two Bronze titles in the past six ORC Worlds – but a Worlds Class C Gold medal has so far eluded their grasp.