5O5 Europa Cup, Hyeres, France
50 boats from 7 countries attended, with strong teams from across Europe as well as the US and Australia. The fleet included 7 boats with World Champions in them, including three of the last four World Champions. Also racing was the current Fireball World Champion, Tom Gillard sailing with Fynn Strerritt and past Fireball World Champion Andy Smith sailing with Tim Needham. Racing took place in the Bay of Hyeres, in fantastic warm sunny conditions with breeze generally between 15 and 22 knots.
Day one saw a relaxed 2pm start in the strongest breeze of the event. After some incredibly tight races and more than a few cobwebs being washed off in the sparkling Mediterranean waters, Mike Holt and Carl Smit the reining World Champion’s led from ’99 World Champion helm and ’09 crew, Howie Hamlin and Jeff Nelson, with ’08 Champion Ian Pinnel, crewed by Alex Davies close to them in third. After sailing everyone enjoyed a great welcome reception with delicious local food and wine. ( Full results at end of article)
Day two was sailed in slightly lighter but still plenty fresh conditions. Andy Smith and Tim Needham put the hammer down to convincingly win two of the three races but significantly, scored a tenth in the other race following a messy gybe. Meanwhile Holt and Smit were putting a steady score together with a 2,4,3 as was Pinnel and Davies with a race win and 2,5, with Hamlin and Nelson also consistent. So with a day to go and up to 3 more races Britain’s Smith and Needham held a 1 point advantage over American’s Holt and Smit with their Californian compatriots Hamlin and Nelson another point back and Brits Pinnel and Davies yet one more point adrift from them! Still in the frame but a further 4 points down was five times World Champion from Germany, Wolfgang Hunger, with the winner of two of those titles, Julien Kliener crewing.
Friday was concluded with a pasta and wine evening at the hosting COYCH with many tales told and recounted with the stunning back drop of the sparkling Mediterranean and a setting sun.
Saturday saw the lightest breeze of the event with the first race of the day starting in around 12 knots and dropping. This race proved to be pivotal in the overall standings for the event, Holt and Smit took the win with none of the other protagonists near the front and crucially Smith and Needham down in the cheap seats meaning they would now have to count their tenth. They did though have the pleasure of winning the final 2 races, but with Holt and Smit adding a 2 and a 3 to their win, their five first places out of eight races was not enough for them to win! Instead it was Holt and Smit with two wins and counting twos and threes for a total of 15 points. Smith and Needham claimed silver and Pinnel and Davies took the bronze.
The first Euro Cup of 2016 will go down as a great success, the first time for the class in Hyeres and everyone was full of praise for the great hospitality and race management of the hosting COYCH. The next leg of the Euro Cup circuit is Riva Del Garda. Life’s too short not to be doing this circuit!
(Editors Note: Check out the results - Andy Smith wants 3 discards for future events - does anyone agree? It's pretty tough when you get 5 x 1st's and don't win. Holtie doesn't agree!)