Today saw the European Championships practice races held. One for each discipline, with the Classic fleet going first. They had the better of the day’s wind with a good stiff 15-18 kits up the lake as is usual at Garda. The nature of the place tends to dictate a tack right onto Port and then sail nearly up to the cliffs. The Venturi effect of the geography means that the wind builds the nearer you get to the steep sides of the western edge. This also means that any pin end starters lose out by almost a start line’s length if they don’t tack early enough.
At the top Scott Anderson AUS and Alberto Farnessi SWE were right at the front, only this time accompanied by the young Mortiz Wies GER who looks to set the Classics alight with his blistering pace, a pace of which the Old Bison of the class simply cannot match. He finished minutes ahead of Scotty to lay down a strong marker for the coming Championships.
Next up were the Open foilers. The larger fleet and with many strong sailors. The start was characterised by most of the fleet bunching at the committee boat end, as they just wanted to go to the right in traditional Garda style. This did give an opportunity for Kostas Trigonis to give a port flyer a try. However, he didn’t power up quite enough and was caught by the middle of the fleet meaning a tack to follow the herd. Then most went right as the Classics did.
Then the fun starts. The port tack at the cliff is bang in the middle of the popular sailing point for every IQ Foil, windsurf and wing foiler on the lake! This must have caused huge amusement for the onlookers, seeing these fast upwind foiling machines bearing down on inflatable wings and boards. It was like playing Mario Cart. Many realized what was about to happen and tacked off early. Other preferred to thread their way between various floating and fast foiling little things, just hoping they didn’t just drop off in front. In the end, amazingly, all emerged form this mêlée without a boardsailor sat on the bow.
Up to the top mark, around the spreader, then many headed back down the same line to attack these boardsailors for a second time, only from the other direction! Uninformed onlookers must have wondered why these beasts had come back for a second attack!. But, again, no wingfoiler was collected. This was repeated a further 2 more times and even, on one lap included a yacht sailed by an exclusive crew of bikini clad lovelies, brightening up the day even further!
A few boats pitched in here and there, but the most serious was Sandro Caviezel, who went in downwind at some point and seriously injured his upper right arm. He was brought in and an Ambulance took him to hospital. However, this brave trooper once treated managed to put in an appearance at the opening ceremony meal, with a heavily strapped arm in a tight sling. He received a big round of applause, but we fear is finished for this competition unfortunately.
The hotshots of the Open fleet looked to be Stevie Brewin and Kuba Surowiec, both looked really dialed in a fast both up and downhill on the foils. No results are published, too many riders like to miss the finish line for luck, so it would not be a fair reflection of the race.
Tomorrow, Monday, it starts for real. We are all looking forward to this one now!
Get well fast Sandro, from us all!