2020 International Topper Virtual Regatta Championships report.
The finals of the 2020 International Topper Virtual Regatta Championship lived up to the high standards set in the qualifying series on Monday evening, with back to back races for the 20 boat Gold and Silver fleets.
The first race for the gold fleet was sailed in ILCA dinghies, on the Rio Sugar Loaf race course, in breezy conditions of up to 28 knots! Some crafty tactics were displayed by Tim Carpentier (FRA) with some dummy tacks to try and shake off a tight cover up the first beat from Mike O’Donovan (GBR) and at the top mark it was O’Donovan that rounded first from Carpentier and Luca Mitchell (GBR) in third. The top sailors were easing the sheet big time upwind in the gusts to keep the best speed VMG and it was all about keeping your air clear on the runs. Mike O’Donavon aimed to wipe following boats off by leading them towards a boat on starboard gybe or to sit them under another’s windshadow. He also advises an early call on which side of the gate to choose, in order to protect the inside berth – just as you do in your Topper in the wet stuff!
Watch the video clip here.
On downwind, some boats favoured the rumb line whilst other gybed with every shift. Race Organiser Noah Fitzgerald (GBR) claimed the highest speed at 10.6 knots as he screamed downwind in a gust. On the reaching leg Tim Carpentier engaged in a luffing match with Luca Mitchell that saw the pair sail high of the layline to the gype mark. Mitchell resolved the situation by gybing away, but the extra ground sailed cost him a place as ‘Jester’, (James Adams, AUS) snuck in ahead at the mark to finish third ahead of Mitchell at the finish.
The final stats showed ‘Jester’ to have the most efficient track, with just 0.62NM sailed whilst the winner ‘Déjà Vu’ (Mike O’Donovan) had the best average speed of 5.9kts.
The second Gold Fleet race saw a swift switch to 49er’s, again on the Rio 2016 race course.
‘DaMoose’, (Pedro Mello Machado, RSA) was over a fraction early and had to restart, whilst Alfonso Falcåo Leite, (POR) hit the line perfectly, just 00.2 seconds after the gun. With lots of place changing downwind as the big skiffs found the best VMG angles, it was ‘Windswept’, Millie Rose Hardiman (ITCA GBR) that proved the most consistent, clocking the best average speed of 13.5kts to take a good win in just 4.52 mins, ahead of ‘Bell Rock’, Paul McCombie (GBR) and Vaclav Korytar (CZE) in third. Philip Maddern (RSA) clocked the highest speed at 20.4 kts as the breeze off the Sugar Loaf topped 29.2 knots, but must have spun out as he finished 18th!
Clearly, ‘Deja Vu’, Mike O’Donovan didn’t take to the skiff as well as the ILCA dinghy, as he had his worse result with a 13th, and it was interesting to see similar differences with other sailors, including Carpentier who took his discard with a 7th and James Adams with a 9th. In the 49er it is vital to choose the best VMG route for the bear away into the windward mark and you could see boats that were tacking too frequently lost a lot of time, so you had to chose carefully which shifts were worth a tack.
In the Silver fleet, their third race was also in the ILCA Dinghy, with ‘JC_6 ‘, James Clarke (ITCA GBR) making the best start and then tacking immediately off to the right. ‘GBR 729’, with Simon Clover (GBR) at the controls followed on his hip and soon overtook Clarke to lead around the first mark, as ‘Buddo Ness’, Lorna Drummond (GBR) closed up quickly in third. The breeze built on the run to 29Kts, with Charlie O‘Malley (IRL) maxing out at an impressive 12.4 Kts – not bad for a Laser!
At the finish, it was Simon Clover who took the gun ahead of Erin Young (ITCA GBR) and Lorna Drummond, who also made the best start in 0.06 seconds of the gun.
The action then swiftly moved to Race 4 for the Gold Fleet, this time in the Nacra 17. This was clearly to the liking of ‘Déjà Vu’, who managed the best average speed around the course at 17.1Kts, to take his second win of the finals, ahead of Tim Carpentier and Jasper Bramwell (ITCA GBR) – clearly a Nacra 17 specialist. According to the hotshots, the Nacra is super critical to windshifts downwind, as the high speed when foiling means they move in and out of shifts quicker than the other designs, so there is more to gain. Similarly, foiling at the gun gives you a big jump if there is space to do so. Closing an opponent down by tailing or luffing them match race style is good way to slow them at the start – just like the real thing! On the VR Nacra the wind shadow downwind extends a long way, which can be used as a handy tactic to shadow the boat ahead enough to cross ahead on the port gybe. Like the 49er, getting the bear away right at mark roundings can gain you 30m, so a good skill to master in each wind range.
Aussie James Allen claimed the top speed of 26.9 kts as the breeze topped out at a hairy 31.7kts – good job it was virtual!
For the final showdown, the last race was held in the super-fast Sail GP F 50 cats, on the Marseilles race course - so maybe some local knowledge for the French Carpentier!? As watchers of the actual Sail GP Series will have seen, you can lose a lot through a tack, so upwind strategy has to be decided as early as possible, ideally before even rounding the leeward mark. Likewise in the F50 its really important you get a clear start and not to be over the line as that can cost you a lot of time. Upwind the F50 doesn't like to be pinched as it stops foiling after only a few degrees off the optimum VMG, hence it pays to over stand the laylines a tad.
Watch the F50 final race start here.
Mike O’Donovan again showed his instinctive cat racing skills, stamping his authority on the race to lead it, after pulling up from 8th at the windward mark, and then streaked downwind at over 45 Knots! Vaclav Korytar, aka ’Lord_Biry’, followed next and closed O’Donovan to within 12 seconds at the finish, clocking a 30.7 kts average speed around the course. Third was ‘DaMoose’ (POR), with the consistent Tim Carpentier in 4th. Noah Fitzgerald sailed a blinder to record his best result on the night in 6th.
Overall Mike O’Donovan had done just enough to hold off the French sailor Tim Carpentier by two points, these two well ahead of Vaclav Korytar in third and James Adams in in 4th.
It was a truly international regatta, as befits an ITCA World championships, with six different nationalities in the top ten! Let’s hope the next ITCA World Championship will come soon, be just as competitive if not a little wetter!
Top 10 Gold Fleet results: Full results here.
|1st||OTHER||Gold||GBR||Mike O'Donovan||Deja Vu||1.0||1.0||1.0||1.0||(75.0 DNC)||1.0||(13.0)||6.0||1.0||1.0||101.0||13.0|
|2nd||OTHER||Gold||FRA||Tim carpentier||MCES pepito||1.0||(2.0)||2.0||1.0||1.0||2.0||(7.0)||2.0||2.0||4.0||24.0||15.0|
|5th||OTHER||Gold||GBR||Paul McCombie||Bell Rock||(10.0)||4.0||4.0||4.0||7.0||6.0||2.0||5.0||9.0||(11.0)||62.0||41.0|
|6th||OTHER||Gold||POR||Afonso Falcão Leite||Afonso||4.0 RDGa||1.0||(9.0)||2.0||4.0||(14.0)||8.0||3.0||10.0||9.0||64.0||41.0|
|7th||OTHER||Gold||FRA||Baptiste Gully||LaMerNoire MCES||5.0||3.0||(75.0 DNC)||3.0||3.0||(21.0 DNC)||4.0||9.0||4.0||13.0||140.0||44.0|
|8th||OTHER||Gold||ARG||Agustín Pascual||PasQ 2564||3.0||5.0||(7.0)||4.0||3.0||10.0||10.0||1.0||(14.0)||10.0||67.0||46.0|
|9th||OTHER||Gold||GBR||Luca Mitchell||Luca Mitchell||(11.0)||3.0||7.0||2.0||4.0||4.0||5.0||(16.0)||8.0||16.0||76.0||49.0|