Last week the boys from Redline Racing have been competing against some of the best match racing teams in Europe at the Grade 2 O.M. Ledro International in the beautiful Lake Ledro in Northern Italy. The wind over the three days was very temperamental with the wind being sucked through the valley as the mountains heated up and then shutting down as the clouds came over and cooled everything off. This made for a shorter format to the regatta but none the less, when the wind was in it was a beautiful 5-10 knots making for some tight and intense racing.
The first day started with a short wait for wind before getting into the racing. We had the first two flights off which allowed us to watch the other teams and see how the J22 yacht performed and get an idea of the dynamic of the racing. When our turn came, we got on the boat and won our first race comfortably. For our second race of the day we were up against world number 12, Aschenbrenner from Denmark. After a good start we got the first cross and kept extending to over a minutes lead at the last top mark. The wind then shut down on us and Aschenbrenner began to close at an alarming rate. As we crawled to the line he was coming in with speed from behind us, but we managed to take the win by the smallest of margins. As it turned out this was an incredibly valuable win for us, one which would later mean we would make it to the semi-finals. That was it for the wind for the day but it left us with a good start sitting on 2-0.
The second day brought nearly identical conditions with the wind filling in and only holding for 4 flights. We managed to win our first race of the day against Griffin and then had a tight race against last week’s Krefelder Match Cup finalist Korpershoek. A flag against us in the prestart meant we worked hard to extend to take our penalty on the upwind and went on to take the win. Our last race of our round robin pool was against world number 19, Ogeman from Sweden. An accumulation of errors including sailing to the wrong top mark meant our first loss of our tour and into second on count-back to Ogeman in our round robin pool. Again, the wind then shut down leaving us with a 4-1 record and putting us into the semi-finals on the last day.
The third and final day dawned and met us with again very similar conditions. The top two teams from each pool were then paired off for the semi-finals leaving the others to complete sail-offs for the minor placing. For our semi- final we were paired up against world number 7 and winner of the past two years of the O.M. Ledro International, Nicolai Sehested of Denmark. We out up a good fight but Nicolai’s experience eventually won out leaving us to face Ogeman in the petit final after Gilmour won out 2-1 in the other semi-final.
In the first race of the petit final we were behind by about 3-4 boat lengths the entire race up until the last top mark where we gybed away early into pressure. With some clever tactics and great spinnaker work by Pat and Alex we managed to pull the lead back to a matter of inches and then roll over the top of Ogeman on the last gybe to the finish. In the second race we were ahead of the start but by the top mark Ogeman was right on our hammer. A poor decision to slow the game down at the top with the hope to work a gap for ourselves for the tricky downwind meant we were over taken and we were unable to come back. This leveled the scores and this point the wind completely shut down leaving us in the horrible position where if no more racing was to be held we would lose 3rd and be 4th by virtue of a count-back as our opponent had home the last race completed. Luckily it was only 1pm and we waited for about an hour and then the sun came out, heating u the mountains behind us and brought some wind. Sehested won the final against Gilmour taking the regatta out for the third year running. In our final race, a mistake in the prestart meant we had a penalty but a tactical jib down luff put Ogeman in all kinds of trouble allowing to nicely win the start and extend to do our penalty before the first top mark and sail away to take third.
This is a massive achievement for the boys sailing boats that are a long way from what we are used to and racing against teams with much more experience than us. A third at the grade 2 will help our ever rising ranking take another jump when the rankings are next released.
Now the boys have got a couple of days to relax in Torbole on the shores of Lake Garda before heading to Poland where we will meet our trimmer for our next event, Australian Sailing Squad 49er crew Rhys Mara. The event, Kamien Pomorski will be sailed on Tomm 28 yachts and has added significance to the team as the winner gets an entry to the World Tour Event, Sopot Match Race in Poland later in the month!
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