Ocean Race Cup 2022
Hamish Risso in Fencer takes his first win of the season.
A statement on the event follows below:
The first race of this year's Ocean Race Cup was sailed on Saturday in strong, but consistent, Easterly winds.
With this being an Ocean Race, the race was longer than normal with the competitors having to do two laps of a course from Western Beach to the “Recalada” mark off the port of Algeciras.
The race started with several boats heading North – including Hamish Risso in Fencer, Charlie Lavarello in Nemesis, Andrew Alcantara in Zoe, Charlie Stagnetto in Fairdawn and John Bassadone in Emendek - all fighting it out in the middle of the line, to try and get the best possible start whilst Michael Double - deputising for the absent Micko Sheppard-Capurro in Andromeda – managed to tack to the South as soon as he had crossed the line.
As the group of boats approached the Spanish mole, Hamish was struggling to hold off Charlie Lavarello below him and, managing to find a gap in the field, he decided to tack back into the clearer winds in the South, having to take the sterns of some Starboard boats in the process.
Once the rest of the field started getting closer to the Spanish Mole, they too started to tack off to the South, with Charlie Lavarello also having to take a few sterns in order to clear his wind.
It soon become clear that Hamish’s early tack had paid off and not only was he was starting to pull away from the boats in the North, but he was also managing to overtake early leader Michael Double in the South to lead the race.
Unfortunately, it was at this stage that two of the boats in the field – Zoe helmed by Andrew Alcantara and Andromeda sailed by Michael Double – crashed into each other in a bad accident which forced both boats to retire damaged.
As the remaining boats approached the airfield, Hamish caught Charlie Lavarello on starboard which meant that Charlie had to tack off to the North just below him whilst Charlie Stagnetto, who was third at this stage, sailed off to the South looking for better winds.
Hamish then tacked back on to South but found that Charlie Stagnetto had got a lift which resulted in Hamish having to take his stern and temporarily putting Charlie Stagnetto into the lead.
However, as the beat continued, Charlie Stagnetto sailed further North whilst Hamish headed South where he found the same lift that Charlie Stagnetto had taken advantage of, and with this he managed to round the mark in first place with Charlie Stagnetto and Charlie Lavarello very close behind in second and third respectively.
On the run down to “Recalada”, Hamish took his position to the North, Charlie Lavarello to the South and Charlie Stagnetto in the middle.
It was Charlie Stagnetto in the middle who got the best wind and he soon pulled ahead of Hamish to reclaim the lead once more, with Charlie Lavarello very close behind them and John Bassadone a bit further back in 4th.
As they approached the leeward mark, Charlie Stagnetto made the error of bringing down his spinnaker too early in an attempt to gybe onto port and round the mark ahead of Hamish. However, Hamish had not gybed and managed to become the inside boat whilst on Starboard, meaning that Charlie had no option but to wait for Hamish to round the buoy before rounding it himself.
As they rounded, Charlie Stagnetto tried to tack quickly towards the favourable North, but unfortunately for him he misjudged the situation and hit Hamish resulting in him having to do a penalty.
After being hit, Hamish himself tacked towards the North whilst Charlie Lavarello and John Bassadone continued South for about a minute before also tacking towards the North to chase down Hamish and Charlie Stagnetto.
This late tack favoured both these boats and with the slight puffs from the South it was soon clear that not only had Charlie Lavarello closed in on the leading two boats but he had actually passed them to take the lead in the race for the first time, with John Bassadone also putting some serious pressure on Charlie Stagnetto for 3rd.
Once they were close to the coast Hamish, who was in second place, tacked off to the South and in a bid to keep him covered, so did Charlie Lavarello.
The other two boats – John Bassadone and Charlie Stagnetto – continued further North and as a result, both lost out to the leaders.
On the way back to the mark at Western Beach there was a close tacking duel between Hamish and Charlie Lavarello, with the latter catching Hamish on starboard towards the end of the beat and thereby maintaining his lead to round the mark.
On the run back to Algeciras, Hamish caught up with Charlie Lavarello thanks to some great spinnaker work by Miro Kunes and he managed to not only draw alongside Charlie, but also be on the favoured inside line.
Seeing this, and all too aware of what Hamish had done to Charlie Stagnetto in the previous round, Charlie Lavarello took the brave decision to gybe on to port and with some good crew work from John Armstrong and Dhiraj Nagrani, he made a successful attempt to not only take Hamish’s wind but also cross his stern and establish his inside position.
Unfortunately for Hamish, he was not in a position to respond and so Charlie Lavarello rounded the last mark once again in the lead with Hamish very close behind.
Further back, there was another battle going on with John Bassadone also managing to get the inside position on Charlie Stagnetto at the last minute to round “Recalada” in third.
As soon as they had rounded the mark, Hamish tacked off to the North and Charlie Lavarello covered his position by immediately doing the same.
At this point, Hamish wasn’t making any inroads to Charlie’s slight lead and so he tacked again, with Charlie once again following him. Hamish was still not happy with his progress and tacked off to the North once again with Charlie continuing his tactic of doing the same to cover his rival although on this occasion slightly to windward of Hamish.
This time, however, Hamish did start to make inroads into Charlie’s lead by managing to outpoint him slightly as a result of the heading Northerly gusts and by the time they reached the Northern end of the course Hamish had almost overtaken Charlie.
Hamish decided that this was the time to tack back to Charlie as hoped that he had made enough gains to retake the lead
However, it was not to be and Charlie who was just ahead when they met, responded with a tack right on Hamish’s nose, resulting in him losing momentum and having to do another short tack to the North to clear his wind before tacking once again back to the South.
On this occasion, and unlike the previous tacks, Charlie did not match Hamish’s tack preferring to take his chances in the South, leaving Hamish in clear wind albeit in a more Northerly position.
As they continued their last beat, Hamish had the obstacle of a tanker that was moored in the bay, and once again he had to tack further North for a short period of time to get round it.
Charlie Lavarello, feeling that he had a header, also tacked towards the North but unfortunately for him it did not last and so he soon tacked back to the South.
This meant that the scene was set for an exciting finish with Charlie Lavarello in the South side of the course and Hamish in the North and despite the distance between them on the water, it was clear that when they met again, there would be nothing in it.
The boats finally met again (and for the last time) just off the runway with only 250m left to the finishing line. As the boats closed in on each other, it looked that Charlie had the upper hand, but a quick puff of a Northerly gust at the last minute hindered Charlie’s progress whilst the same time helping Hamish.
This meant that when they actually met there was only a matter of inches in it with Charlie catching Hamish on starboard and the latter preferring to tack at the last moment rather than take his rival’s stern.
This led to an anxious 30 seconds as Charlie’s greater momentum allowed him to start overtaking Hamish but then, as Hamish regained his speed, Charlie stopped overtaking his rival as both sailed at the same speed just inches from each other.
Luckily for Hamish, there was a bit of North in the wind which meant that once he had his momentum back, he was able to use his better pointing ability to outpoint Charlie and bring him to a virtual stop whilst at the same time keeping enough momentum to pull away from his rival.
This was the final act of another exciting race, and once Hamish had slowed Charlie down and forced him to leeward, he was able to get away and take the lead with only 200m to go.
A relieved Hamish then managed to keep his small lead all the way to the finish to give him his first win of what has, so far, been a terrible season for him.
Behind them, Charlie Stagnetto and John Bassadone were battling it out for third place and a series of good covering tacks by John throughout the final beat managed to just keep him ahead of Charlie Stagnetto and claim third.
Further back, and despite the strong winds and the long race, Louis Triay Snr managed a very creditable 5th to keep his good start to the season going.
Ocean Race 1 - Results
- Hamish Risso in Fencer (Crew Miro Kunes & Scott Malsbury)
- Charlie Lavarello in Nemesis
- John Bassadone in Emendek
Kings Cup Standings
Despite his third in Saturday’s race, John Bassadone holds a comfortable lead over Charlie Lavarello in the race for the Kings Cup with Charlie Stagnetto, Hamish Risso and Louis Triay Snr all battling it out for 3rd.
Next week the focus turns to match racing with the Louis Triay Trophy.
The qualifier for this race is on Thursday with the top 6 boats in the fleet race qualifying for the finals on Saturday where they will have to race all the other finalists “mano a mano” or 1 v1 in a series of 5 races.
The final races for this Trophy are the most stressful racing of the year for both the helms and crews of the qualifying finalists with most of the races decided in the very close and tense pre-start manoeuvres.