After finishing at the bottom of the raking on day one, Frédéric Jousset's golden hulled TF35, Team SAILFEVER, helmed by Frenchman Loïck Peyron, turned their fortunes around on the second day of the Realstone Cup for Léman hope taking place this weekend in Nyon.
With the expectation of a very short window of race-able wind on Lake Geneva today, Principal Race Officer Benoit Deutsch had the seven cutting-edge hydro-foiling catamarans on the water an hour early to ensure the moment wasn't missed. After two hours of waiting, with little more than a three-knot ripple of breeze over the glassy lake, the forecast that everyone hoped for finally filled in at 13:30, and two races were sailed.
In the first, three knots quickly turned into a solid 10 knots for the start of the race. The top two - Alinghi Red Bull Racing and Realteam Sailing - broke away from the fleet early and were in a race on their own, which Realteam ultimately won. Without too much traffic around them and having found good pressure on the right of the beat, Peyron's team popped out in third place at the first mark rounding and they held this position until the finish, with Vitamina Sailing finishing in fourth.
"We are pretty much always at the top of the chasing pack or the bottom of the leading pack, and we would like to improve on this but it's not very easy. These boats are super sensitive, but the beauty is that we are learning something new every day," Peyron explained. "As Frédéric is not here this weekend, I am helming, and so, unfortunately, I am in charge of the mistakes. Tomorrow looks like it might be a perfect day, so for all the competitors, if that happened, it would be nice to race in something a little more steady," he added.
A similar story was true in the second race of the day, but this time it was the new Italian team Vitamina Sailing who stood out. Pushed out of the fight for the committee boat end on the start line Kiwi tactician Adam Minoprio, famed for his match racing skills, hit the mid-line at speed and found good pressure on the left whilst the rest of the fleet went right. By the first gate Minoprio had salvaged fourth and, covering Realteam Sailing downwind, was head-to-head for third at the leeward mark.
With the breeze over 20 knots by the second beat, the call came through on the radio for a shortened course, and in the dash for the finish line Realteam Sailing held Vitamina out to the far left. Alinghi Red Bull Sailing Team won the race, followed by Spindrift in second, Team Sailfeaver in third and Realteam Sailing were finally able to fend off Vitamina to take fourth on the line.
"It was a great day. Being a new team in a new fleet, we are definitely the underdogs, but we are doing our best to learn the boat and the conditions on the lake," said Vitamina trimmer Pierluigi De Felice on the dock after racing. "We had a great start in race three, so straight away, we were at the front of the pack; our downwind was good, but we chose the wrong gate at the bottom. We were close to Realteam but to be honest, they are at a different level and a different pace to us, so we just tried to limit our loss to get to the finish line."
Tomorrow racing will resume at 11.30 local time with a stable 12-15 knots on the forecast. Follow the racing live on the www.TF35.org home page.