The final event of the 2023 TF35 season opened today in Malcesnie, Italy, with two practice races and one official race, sailed in a modest 6 - 10 knot Ora breeze.
Going into this regatta the points are close, with Realteam Sailing already having secured the season win. Spindrift and Ylliam XII - Comptoir Immobilier are tied on points and competing for second place. However, ZEN Too and Alinghi Red Bull Racing are pushing hard behind them, tied on points, with Ylliam 17, a further point back, and looking jump onto the podium.
"We're going to try and get off to a good start and finish this championship on a high", Spindrift's helm Yann Guichard explained optimistically on the dock before racing. "We came second ten days ago, not far from victory, so we'll be playing for the podium again in this regatta and see what happens in the overall standings".
In the single point-scoring race sailed today before the breeze died and the thunder started to rumble, it was Guy de Picciotto's ZEN Too who had the best start at the right end of the line and sailed smoothly and confidently to lead the first race down to the leeward gate, chased by Alinghi Red Bull Racing and Ylliam XII - Comptoir Immobilier.
"We had a great start, but the conditions weren't easy," admitted tactician Grégoire Siegwart. "Today's race showed we're capable of being fast upwind, fast downwind, and we're starting to do some nice manoeuvres."
But on the second beat, Picciotto's team tried to repeat their tactic of banging the left-hand corner and fell into a wind hole at the closest point to shore. "We did the best we could from where we were. We lost the lead, but for us the positive thing, above all, was the starts. The aim is to get closer to the podium."
Seeing the leaders stall, Bertrand Demole on the helm of Ylliam XII - Comptoir Immobilier widened his angle, kept his speed, and just about made it into more breeze closer to the middle of the lake. This move gave Demole the edge rounding the second windward gate to take the lead, which they held until the finish line.
Crew Billy Besson said: "As we knew these were unusual conditions for Lake Garda, our tactic was to always tack into the wind. And it paid off because we could quickly get back into the breeze, whilst ZEN and the others had to wait to get the boat back underway. We took advantage of this. It was tactical and technical to get to the windward mark on that second beat, and we made the most of it; we played the card to the maximum, and it paid off".
Their closest rival, Spindrift, edged ahead to take second, and ZEN Too finished third. Realteam Sailing crossed ahead of Alinghi Red Bull Racing on the line to take fourth and fifth respectively, with Ylliam 17 in sixth.
"It was all down to the wire, it's very twisted conditions, tough for everyone, and you have to hang on right to the end. As long as you haven't crossed the finish line, nothing can be taken for granted. After that, it's only the first day, we've only done one round, we've still got three days to go, so the match has only just begun", Besson concluded.
Tomorrow five races are planned starting at 13:00CET follow live at www.tf35.org