1 May 2023 – Ta’Xbiex, Malta – The skies cleared and northerly wind filled enough today after a long postponement to complete one final inshore race of the 2023 ORC European Championship, hosted by the Royal Malta Yacht Club.
The new ORC European champions in each class sailed well all week, but their overall victories were not guaranteed when they left the dock this morning. The compression of points in the standings after yesterday’s non-discardable light-air Coastal Race and the possibility that if the wind filled to be stronger and more stable they might have had to race twice today introduced many possible scenarios that would threaten any lead in the standings.
Yet this did not happen for two of the newly crowned champions. Karl Kwok’s (HKG) TP 52 BEAU GESTE won the ORC World Championship twice – in 2018 in The Hague and last year in Porto Cervo, and with all bullets on their scoreline seemed assured of winning their first ORC European Class A crown…until yesterday’s Coastal race when they finished well down the ranks in 7th place and their nearest rival – Claudio Terrieri’s (ITA) Swan 45 BLUE SKY – won the race, compressing their lead into a two-point margin. Worse yet, BLUE SKY had a 4th place finish in Race 5 to discard, and if BEAU GESTE did not win the race today then BLUE SKY would take the title.
Sure enough, BEAU GESTE won the race by 48 seconds over BLUE SKY, allowing them to take the win but only on a tie break. The BLUE SKY team had to settle for Silver Medals instead of Gold.
“We feel great but this was a very hard win,” said Kwok. “We were led to great heights then yesterday we came down, squashed. This shows how hard it is to win when the competition is so tough. We think the ORC system is working well, especially this week.” Racing with Kwok was helmsman Gavin Brady, tactician Alan Smith, Edward Davison, Tom Cheney, Matt Humphries, Nathan Ellis, Ryan Houston, Max South, David Swete, Chris Cowen, Samuel Bell, Margaret Chan, and Cowen Chiu.
Class A Bronze medal winners are the Malta-based team on ELUSIVE II, a modified First 45 owned by Maya and Christoph Podesta who finished only 5 points away from the tied leaders in the class.
For this achievement the team won the Yachting Malta Trophy awarded to the highest-placed local-based team in the championship.
Class B provided this week with some of the most competitive ORC racing seen in recent times. There were several teams in contention all week, races were won and lost be seconds in both elapsed and corrected times, with teams sailing at exceptionally high levels with few mistakes.
Today’s race sailed in 8-10 knots of wind was an example: Marcin Sutkowski’s (POL) Grand Soleil 44 P WIND WHISPER 44 won the short 48-minute race with a margin of only 24 seconds over runner-up BE WILD, Renzo Grottesi’s (ITA) Club Swan 42. Lying only 15 seconds back to take third was Stergios Leontaridis’s (GRE) Farr 40 OD ELLINIX FARR AWAY, 5 seconds back Nicola De Gemmis’s (ITA) Club Swan 42 MORGAN V, Aivar Tuulberg’s (EST) Club Swan 42 KATARIINA II another 6 seconds back in 5th place, and Michalis Belegris’s Grand Soleil 42 R CODE ZERO MASTIHASHOP only 8 seconds back in 6th place.
This is the top six places finishing within less than one minute in ORC-scored corrected time: it does not get closer than this!
With KATARIINA II having an 8th place in the Coastal race and sailing their drop today, WIND WHISPER 44 winning today’s race but having to swallow a 13th in the Coastal race, it was BE WILD who emerged as the new 2023 ORC Class B European Champion.
Owner Renzo Grottesi was ecstatic: “We’re very happy, but this week was very very difficult, the level of the other boats is very high,” he said, “I’m very proud of our team, our communication was very good. He also explained that the experience Enrico Zennaro had with knowing speed tricks on Swan 42’s was really helpful. Also racing with Grottesi and Zennaro was Luigi Masturzo, Sandro Iesari, Giovanni Sanfelice di Monteforte, Nicola Stedile, Alberto Grippo, Nikolaos Mascoli, Manuel Polo, Lorenzo Cantarini, and Guido Antar Vigna.
In Class C the new ORC European Champions – Ott Kikkas’s (EST) Italia 11.98 SUGAR 3 – are no strangers to winning: they have won the ORC Class C World Championship every year but one since 2019, including last year in Porto Cervo. However this mixed Estonian and Italian team have won the European Championship only once in 2013 in their previous boat.
When asked what was different about this championship compared to others Kikkas said “The conditions were very good, except in the offshore races when the wind dropped for hours. But we were lucky and made it good.”
He also echoed what other winning skippers said in appreciating the intense rivalry they had with the other boats, especially Vincenzo De Blasio’s sistership SCUGNIZZA who finished as Silver medalists. Racing with Kikkas this week was Sandro Montefusco, Paolo Bucciafelli, Matteo Ivaldi, Matteo Polli, Marko Uulits, Siim Ots, and Marjaliisa Umb.
“We congratulate the new ORC European Champions and thank all those who have made this championship in Malta so special,” said ORC Chairman Bruno Finzi. “This event was the result of a tremendous effort made by all volunteers and staff from Royal Malta Yacht Club, the support from Yachting Malta, the time and effort made by the Race Committee, the Jury and all the technical and communications team from ORC. Great job everyone.”
Top 3 teams after 7 races sailed (1 inshore race discard):
- 𝗞𝗮𝗿𝗹 𝗞𝘄𝗼𝗸 (HKG) TP 52 𝗕𝗘𝗔𝗨 𝗚𝗘𝗦𝗧𝗘 1-(1)-1-1-1-7-1 12 pts
- 𝗖𝗹𝗮𝘂𝗱𝗶𝗼 𝗧𝗲𝗿𝗿𝗶𝗲𝗿𝗶 (ITA) Swan 45 𝗕𝗟𝗨𝗘 𝗦𝗞𝗬 2-2-2-3-(4)-1-2 12 pts
- 𝗠𝗮𝘆𝗮 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀𝘁𝗼𝗽𝗵 𝗣𝗼𝗱𝗲𝘀𝘁𝗮 (MLT) mod First 45 𝗘𝗟𝗨𝗦𝗜𝗩𝗘 𝗜𝗜 3-(4.5)-3-2–3-3-3 17 pts
- 𝗥𝗲𝗻𝘇𝗼 𝗚𝗿𝗼𝘁𝘁𝗲𝘀𝗶 (ITA) Club Swan 42 𝗕𝗘 𝗪𝗜𝗟𝗗 2-(5)-1-2-3-6-2 16 pts
- 𝗔𝗶𝘃𝗮𝗿 𝗧𝘂𝘂𝗹𝗯𝗲𝗿𝗴 (EST) Swan 42 𝗞𝗔𝗧𝗔𝗥𝗜𝗜𝗡𝗔 𝗜𝗜 3-4-2-1-2-8-(5) 20 pts
- 𝗠𝗮𝗿𝗰𝗶𝗻 𝗦𝘂𝘁𝗸𝗼𝘄𝘀𝗸𝗶 (POL) Grand Soleil 44 P 𝗪𝗜𝗡𝗗𝗪𝗛𝗜𝗦𝗣𝗘𝗥 𝟰𝟰 1-1-(4)-4-1-13-1 21 pts
- 𝗢𝘁𝘁 𝗞𝗶𝗸𝗸𝗮𝘀 (EST) Italia 11.98 𝗦𝗨𝗚𝗔𝗥 𝟯 2-1-1-1-(2)-2-1 8 pts
- 𝗩𝗶𝗻𝗰𝗲𝗻𝘇𝗼 𝗗𝗲 𝗕𝗹𝗮𝘀𝗶𝗼 (ITA) Italia 11.98 𝗦𝗖𝗨𝗚𝗡𝗜𝗭𝗭𝗔 1-2-2-5-(7)-1-2 13 pts
- 𝗝𝗮𝗸𝗼𝘂𝗯𝗲𝗸 𝗭𝗱𝗲𝗻𝗲𝗸 (CZE) M37 𝗛𝗘𝗕𝗘 𝗩 3-(4)-3-3-1-4-4 18 pts
Top 3 Corinthian teams:
- E. Galeati & D. Angelo (ITA) GS 43R REVE DE VIE 1-1-1-1-1-1-(2) 6 pts
- Stergios Leaontaradis (GRE) Farr 40 ELLINIX FARR AWAY 4-(6)-2-2-4-3-1 16 pts
- Giacomo Dell’Aria (ITA) IMX 45 SD TETTA 3-2-5-(7)-2.5-2-3 17.5 pts
- George Drakopoulos (GRE) Bavaria 35 Match BLUE LINE 1-(3)-1-1-2-2-1 8 pts
- Giovanni Toscano (ITA) Italia 11.98 VARENNE 3-2-2-(3)-1-1-3 12 pts
- Massimo Licata D’Andrea (ITA) First 35 SOUTH KENSINGTON 2-1-(3)-2-3-3-2 13 pts