Editor’s Note: The following article is a re-post from the International 505 Blog
Day 1 of the 505 Riva Cup dawned with cool temperatures and overcast conditions, not favourable for the “classic” Garda conditions. However, the 51 boats from 7 countries, need not have worried as despite the overcast conditions the wind filled in from the South with pressure somewhere around 15-18 knots for the 3 races. The expert race team had laid a course further North and East than we were used to, so it was not a default go right race track and in each race you could make either side pay.
Race 1 saw the German team of Jan Phillip Hofmann and Felix lead at the first mark but they were quickly overhauled by Mike Holt and Carl Smit from the USA, pulling away into a lead they would not relinquish. Pulling through to second were the UK team of Ian Pinnell and Tim Needham and Stefan Koechlin and Andreas Achtenburg grabbing third.
Race 2 sailed in much the same conditions gave the fleet some tight downwind racing. Ian Pinnel and Tim Needham pulled away into the lead only to have a navigation failure at the last mark, allowing the Canadian team of Bob Tennant and Steve Bourdow through for the win ahead of Holt and Smit with Australian team of Michael Quirk and Reeve Dunne claiming the final podium place.
By the third race the wind was maybe up a little, much to the liking of another Australian team, with Malcolm Higgins and Nick “Camel” Johnson running away with the win. The Geman team of Koschlin and Achtenberg adding a 2nd to their 3rd in race 1 and another German team of Stefan Boem and Gerald Roos in third.
Some tired bodies at the end of the day but great racing and a good forecast for Day 2.
Day two of the 505 Riva Cup delivered everything that is best about the Northern Italian venue, sunshine, stunning views and wind! Plenty of wind. From the start of race 4 on through race 5 and 6 the breeze was a perfect 18-22knots from the south. With temperatures a touch warmer than Thursday, it was a sailing nirvana for the 51 boats from seven countries and three continents.
Race 4 had a 10 degree pin end bias that Holt and Smit of the USA took full advantage of, starting on Port and leading the charge out to the right hand side they built a big lead over the race. Following in second place were the German team of Plessman and Heinrich-Rix, ahead of Higgins and Johnson from Australia.
Race 5 and the bias had reduced but was still there and more boats tried to emulate the winners of race 4, but this time it didn’t work and lots of ducking, diving and shouting ensued as the fleet got off the line. Getting a clean start and away was the name of the game and the British team of Pinnell and Needham executed well to win from Aussies team of Higgins and Johnson followed in third by Holt and Smit. A very International top 3.
For the final race of the day the start was again all important and with a big raft up at the committee boat end it was Higgins and Johnson who powered away cleanly chased by the British team of Clark and Clark who are clearly getting to grips well with their new boat. Third in this one was Pinnell and Needham.
After 6 races, it is now tight at the top, Holt and Smit lead on 11 points, Higgins and Johnson are 2 further back and Pinnell and Needham a further 9 down the list in third, really starting to regret their navigation error in race 2. Two more races today and the weather looks amazing again, warm, sunny and therefore the breeze should come in. Why are you not here?
Once again the 51 505’s were greeted with a warm sunny morning and the promise of another stunning day on Lake Garda. Those that have been to Riva before will tell you if it is sunny and warm the southerly wind will blow and yet again it delivered. The fleet launched into the gentle fingers of the breeze as it filled in and by race time it was blowing a perfect 15-18, with a few shifts to make it interesting. At the top of the leaderboard it was tight and all the way down there were private battles to be had to try and move up.
Race 7 the fleet got away cleanly and those that started at the committee boat and were quickest away on to port held the advantage, with Canadian’s Tennant and Bourdow getting their bow ahead chased by a pack of boats. They were to hold their lead the whole way around while some real drama played out behind them. The Australian team of Higgins and Johnson had pulled through the fleet to 2nd, which would have put them in the lead with a race to go, however they tried to fly their spinnaker across the short top leg, could not make it and dropped to 4th, the British team of Clark and Clark taking advantage to score a 2nd place.
Going into the final race it was a tie at the top and essentially the winner of the Riva Cup would come down to who beat who between the US team of Holt and Smit and the Aussies Higgins and Johnson, with the tussle for 3rdequally close between two British teams, Pinnell and Needham, the Clarks and Canadians Tennant and Bourdow. The race got away cleanly, with a big split with the bulk of the fleet going for a committee boat start and an early tack to the “cliffs” and a smaller but this time smarter group who went for a pin end port tack start. Holt and Smit got this call right to lead at the top, followed by British team of Andy Smith and Stewart Mears. Close behind them were Higgins and Johnson. The race was now on! By the first bottom mark Smith and Mears had moved into the lead and importantly Higgins and Johnson rounded just ahead of Holt and Smit. The positions remained unchanged up the next beat so it was all on the last run and short reach to the finish. Holt and Smit gybed out to the middle of the lake while the leading two went to the eastern shore, when the 3 boats came back together the places were the same but the gaps had closed. By the leeward mark Smith and Mears had done enough to close out with a race win, Higgins and Johnson gybed with the kite up and Holt and Smit followed tight behind them but without the kite. No kite was the right call and Holt and Smit sneaked across just ahead in 2nd to take the win by 1 point. Could not have been any tighter.
Yet again Riva delivered a fantastic event, great breeze, stunning scenery, food and racing. No wonder so many people keep coming back!