It was a moody start to the TF35 Malcesine Cup as the bright, brisk, flat water conditions for which Lake Garda is famous were interrupted by the tail-end of a storm that rumbled over the Italian lake.
"This morning there were thunderstorms, it was quite special, and we didn't know what the day would be like," explained Spindrift's tactician Yann Jauvin. "We had to be open-minded and stay focused because the day promised to be long."
With the crews held ashore until 13:00CET due to lack of wind, the cloud cover finally broke late-afternoon, allowing for one practice race and one point-scoring race to be sailed in a moderate southerly 'Ora' wind before the breeze faded off to nothing.
In the single race sailed, the conditions were challenging for the tacticians and helms alike as the patchy fading breeze was almost impossible to read on the water. Off the start line, Alinghi Red Bull Racing won the pin and led the fleet into the shore on the left of the course but fell into no breeze and off her foils whilst Team Sailfever, who had tacked off early after a poor start, found more pressure in the middle of the course.
Spindrift had edged ahead of the relatively even fleet at the first windward gate after a clean start and first beat. "The most important thing was not to fall into the wind holes, to tack or gybe just before drifting into the soft areas. There were still corridors, but it was hard to stay in them," Jauvin added.
The Spindrift crew, with Yann Guichard at the helm, extended their lead downwind and held on as the wind faded to nothing on the second beat. It was a welcome relief then when the call came through on the radio that the course would be shorted to finish at the second windward gate, salvaging the race and confirming their win. "It was quite complicated on the second lap. It was necessary to both control the fleet while staying on its side to continue to follow the wind. We therefore protected the left which was a little stronger and we win this first round."
Local crew Vitamina Sailing Team saw a much-needed boost in performance coming home in a comfortable second place, their best result to date. "Second is a nice result. But it's the first day, and there is still a lot of racing, but it's good to start this way," explained tactician Adam Minoprio. "We are focusing on making the boat more reliable. In the way the team is sailing the boat we can match the speed and manoeuvres of the other teams, we just need to make sure we don't have any issues with the boat that slow us down”.
As the last boat crossed the line just before 17:00 the AP over A flags were raised and the boats returned to the Fraglia Vela Malcesine for the welcome cocktail.