Day three of the TF35 Malcesine Cup 1 saw an intensifying rivalry between Yann Guichard's Spindrift and Jérôme Clerc's Realteam Sailing, as both teams claimed two victories each in a full-on, four-heat afternoon.
Following a brief delay ashore, waiting for the southerly Ora breeze to strengthen, the TF35 racing got underway at 1400CET with wind speeds ranging from 10 to 14 knots.
Continuing their form, the day's first bullet (Race 7 in the series) went to Spindrift, with a slight but comfortable lead over Realteam. In Race 8, Realteam countered their move with the win. However, it was Guy de Picciotto's ZEN Too, helmed by Loïc Forestier, who had the best start to the race and, although unable to outpace Realteam, effectively fended off Spindrift to finish the race in second place, giving Realteam the advantage.
Forestier explained: "We were really able to play our game on the starts, which was a goal for the day. We're also trying to sail a little differently upwind. The aim was to increase our speed and gybes.
"In heat 8 we were very close to Realteam and gained metres on them throughout the course, which is really encouraging. The work we've put in over the season is slowly starting to pay off. Of course, we have moments of doubt when things get more complicated, but the groundwork we did at the start of the season is starting to show, so that's cool".
In Race 9, Spindrift levelled the score with a strong start in clean air, while Realteam got caught in congestion on the second row. Spindrift covered well on the first beat and went on to secure the race win, with Realteam in second. Impressively, new team Ylliam 17 emerged from the mid-fleet to take third place, marking their first podium position of the event.
In the tenth and final race of the day, Realteam and Spindrift were locked in pre-race match racing for position on the starting line, inadvertently allowing Ylliam XII - Comptoir Immobilier to secure the best start. The two lead teams were then not only engaged in a race against each other, but in a chase to see who could take the lead from Ylliam XII and put a boat, and a valuble point, between themelves and their rival.
"It's another closely contested day, quite challenging, and often with a similar configuration," summarized Bertrand Demole, owner and helmsman of Ylliam XII - Comptoir Immobilier. "We've been consistently in third place. We aim to perform better in second and first places, but we seem to be struggling with speed and tactics compared to Lake Geneva, where we are more likely to claim first places and compete at the top."
On the second beat Realteam had the speed edge and finished the race in first with Ylliam XII in second and Spindrift in third. In the overall rankings this puts a precious point between first and second giving Realteam the lead going into the final.
Tomorrow racing is scheduled to start at 1300 CET. Follow the live coverage at www.TF35.org