Sunny skies and close racing on day four of Alexela ORC World Championship 2021
Today’s was Rotermann City day for prizes of the inshore competition on the fourth day of racing at the Alexela ORC World Championship 2021, which got a late start awaiting the the mid-afternoon fill of a light westerly sea breeze. Yet the wait was worth it in completing two windward/leeward races for Classes A and B and three races in Class C. For Class C this was crucial in completing the qualifying program to determine who among the 62 entries will be racing for podium positions in the Gold fleet and who will continue racing in the Silver fleet starting tomorrow.
The 8 entries in Class A continue to be dominated by the top three teams, with some lead changes amongst them and a newcomer to the winner’s circle in the day’s first race. With a building breeze in this race from 6 to 9 knots, the slower-rated boats got a favorable boost in the results amidst their faster-rated rivals. Jani Lehti’s GP 42 Mercedes-Benz EQ POW from Finland won this race, his best finish yet in the event, which has helped boost him to third in the standings behind the two German leaders, Tillmar Hansen’s TP52 OUTSIDER in first and Michael Berghorn’s Mills 45 HALBTROCKEN 4.5 one point back in second.
Similarly, another German team, Jan Oplander’s Swan 45 Katima, had their best race yet in the first race today, earning second to the Finns and thus remaining in contention in fifth place overall. With three races remaining in the series and 13 points separating the top five in the standings, final podium positions are far from assured yet in Class A.
The long delay waiting for wind today affected Class B more than any other group, with this fleet coming home into the marina only just before sunset. Nonetheless, their two races were hard-fought with a new leader emerging among the top five: Catalin Trandafir’s Grand Soleil 44 P ESSENTIA44 from Romania. Their scores of 2-4 today for the day were not as strong as Jens Kuphal’s Landmark 43 INTERMEZZO’s 3-2, but their win in the offshore race has helped them have a 2-point margin over yesterday’s Class B leader, Tiit Vihul’s X-41 OLYMPIC from Estonia.
Another strong Estonian team – Aivar Tuulberg’s Swan 42 Katariina II – has yet to win a race but maintained consistent results to remain in third in the standings by only one point behind OLYMPIC. To say this class is fiercely competitive is an under-statement: in Race 2 today the top 8 teams in the results were separated by less than a minute in corrected time, with two points even tied in time and having to share points.
Class C today was full of action: first, because the breeze filled first on their course area in front of the Pirita Marina, and second because the stakes were high: race managers needed to complete all three races for each of the Blue and Yellow groups, meaning six races run, to complete the heat format where all competitors would meet each other in battle at least once. Several general recalls and black flags deployed at the starts were needed, but Principal Race Officer Eckhardt Reinke and his team pulled off this impressive feat in the narrow windows of time and wind available to complete the program.
Amidst this pressure one team emerged triumphant, winning every race within their Blue group: Juss Ojala’s J-112E MATILDA from Estonia. The reigning Class C World Champions – Ott Kikkas’s Italia 11.98 SUGAR 3, also from Estonia and skippered by Italian Sandro Montefusco – did well in the Yellow group by scoring 3-1-2, but they lose a tie-break to be second in the standings to a fellow Yellow group competitor, yesterday’s leader from Sweden, Patrik Forsgren’s modified First 36.7 PRO4U.
“We prepared carefully for racing and were fighting for every second,” said Ojalo. “Having the conditions vary from light winds up to a building breeze allowed us to round the upwind marks first in each race and from there on we steadily grew the lead. It was simply about super teamwork, super starts and magical sailing. Our motivation is really high and three bullets today raised our incentive to fight hard to the end.”
Complete results are available at data.orc.org/worlds2021.
Racing at the Alexela ORC World Championship 2021 will resume tomorrow with the PantaeniusCoastal Race of about 10 hours duration, with the course to be announced in the morning Skippers Briefing.
Live tracking from Karla Auto O.K. will be available from the event website here.
Event website: www.orcworlds2021.com