Primo Cup: English Dragon pipped to the post

A brisk easterly wind dominated the first weekend of the Primo Cup in Monaco which saw top sailors from 17 nations battle for supremacy in the six classes: Dragon, Star, Smeralda 888, H22, J24 and Surprise.

With four days of breezy conditions, alternating between south/west and east, the 116 crews found their talents being tested in all types of conditions. This first part of the Primo Cup – Trophée Credit Suisse is a benchmark event as much for the high level of competition as it is for the entertainment on land and the chance to win SLAM clothing and a Hublot watch for the Dragons.

This class boasted the most entrants with no less than forty taking part. It was also the only series to race over four days. Whether in a Dragon, Star or Smeralda 888, this edition was marked by some closely fought duels, a testament to the quality of the fleets.

For this 24th edition, a total of ten races were held over four days for the Dragons and seven for the five other series over three days. There was hardly any down time in between races, a fact much appreciated by the competitors. It has to be said that the race committee led by Thierry Leret gave them little respite, right up to the last race when they set a course of 1.5 miles.

Given the gruelling conditions and heavy swell, we congratulate all those who were there to assist and watch over the regatta. The 116 competitors who were tossed around, with many incurring damages, knew they could count on the sixty-plus volunteers who were there to ensure safety on the water. Each boat was escorted back to port, even when they had not asked for assistance.

Dragon (40 registered) – 10 races of which 9 counted

This class was of a particularly high level with competitors strung out along the starting line and where barely five minutes separated the first from the last of the fleet at the finish. Throughout the weekend it was a duel between the Ukrainian team Bunker Queen, led by Markus Wieser, 2007 European champion and second in the international classification, and Gavia Wilkinson-Cox in her English boat Jerboa and crewed by Vincent Hoesch. With four race victories under their belts the Ukrainians dominated.

“Monaco is definitely a place to remember: we are very happy to have been able to participate in the Primo Cup and even more delighted to receive this beautiful Hublot watch, the second in my career! This Primo Cup was an opportunity to test the new boats of our Transbunker Sailing Team. The weather conditions were perfect for us and at times a real challenge, with light winds changing to a stiff breeze accompanied by a big swell. If you are not in Florida’s Key West it’s at the Primo Cup in Monaco where you have to start the sailing season!”, commented Markus Wieser during the prize giving.

Also note that with second place, Gavia Wilkinson-Cox had the biggest smile in this 24th edition as she became the first lady to mount the podium for the Dragons at the Primo Cup.

1: 'Bunker Queen' Wieser Marcus (39 pts) Ukraine. (Race details: 1,1,14,9,1,3,1,5,4,DNC)
2: 'Jerboa' Wilkinson-Cox Gavia (72 pts) Great Britain. (Race details: 3,7,2,7,15,17,9,14,14,1)
3: 'Ariston' Kniffka Harro (80 pts) Switzerland. (Race details: 11,12,15,1,7,14,11,7,5,12)

Star (7 registered) – 6 races of which 5 counted

Competitors in this class were most tested physically by the weather conditions throughout the weekend, with only four still racing by Sunday morning. The swell which increased during the day with troughs of 1.8 metres forced the race committee to cancel their final race. Again, there was a closely fought duel for first place, this time between the Swiss entry Fram of Christophe Gautschi and the German Fritz the Cat, which both won several races. Victory finally went to Germany’s Philippe Rotermund after he’d won the last one.

1: 'Fritz The Cat' Rotermund Philipp (7 pts) Germany. (Race details: 2,1,2,2,1,1)
2: 'Fram' Gautschi Christoph (10 pts) Swiss. (Race details: 3,3,1,1,2,3)
3: 'Www.Tracciadigitale.Com' Moschioni Vito (16 pts) Italy. (Race details: 6,5,3,3,3,2)

Surprise (34 registered) – 7 races of which 6 counted

In this class, traditionally dominated by the Swiss, nothing was certain until the «Black Flag» of CER 3 Real Time Forex in the last race, although he was one of those chasing victory. In the end it was the Italian Dream, the most consistent, helmed by Albino Fravezzi, former Star world champion, who won three races and beat the rest overall. Another disappointment was that of the Frenchman Arnaud Gavairon (Allegretto), who although he was placed second yesterday in the provisional results, ended up in fifth position overall.

1: 'Dream' Fravezzi Albino (13 pts) Italy. (Race details: 1,1,3,1,3,17,4)
2: 'Cer 3 Real Time Forex' Clerc Jerome (18 pts) Swiss. (Race details: 3,2,5,2,5,1,DNF)
3: 'Cer 1 Implenia' David Etienne (20 pts) Swiss. (Race details: ,4,1,11,2,3,3)


Smeralda 888 (10 registered) - 7 races of which 6 counted

The Yacht Club de Monaco has led the way with this class, and for the Primo Cup there were nine teams from Monaco, two of which were in the vanguard all day. Vamos mi amor, helmed by Gianluca Perris and Roberto Mangisfesta’s Fire with a highly experienced crew, including Alessandro Santangelo and the Frenchman Philippe Buchard. In strong breezes, the conditions were challenging for the Smeralda 888s, leading to some spectacular manœuvres, born away at the starts and with spinnakers collapsing. Vamos mi Amor managed to control the eager Fire, very prominent this weekend, to confirm the domination of Gianluca Perris and François Brenac, the Match-Race experts. After their match-race victory in Marseille, which placed them in 37th position in the ISAF’s international classification, this latest win bears witness to the Monaco team’s excellent form

1: 'Vamos Mi Amor' Gianluca Perris / Bourbon Charles (12 pts) Monaco. (Race details: 2,1,5,2,2,4,1)
2: 'Fire' Mangifesta Roberto (13 pts) Monaco. (Race details: 3,3,3,1,1,3,2)
3: 'Another Affair' Basson Paul (14 s)

J/24 (11 registered) - 7 races of which 6 counted

Another class popular with society members of the YCM, the J/24 is one of the Primo Cup’s original series. It was the J24 “dream team», notably Stuart Jardine and Marianne Schoke, president of the Swedish class, who triumphed with insolent ease, providing a lesson to the others from Monaco and Italy. With four race victories, the Brit showed once again why he is an expert in this series, one that has been dear to him for several decades now. Of note was the presence of Anne Liardet, here to find out about the waters off Monaco: «Apart from the Tour de France, it is the first time that I have participated in a Mediterranean regatta. I was very surprised, very impressed. And then, what a beautiful fleet of Dragons. It was a superb spectacle and such a warm welcome!” commented the lady who is preparing for her next Vendée Globe, which starts in November 2008.

1: 'Topo Too' Jardine Stuart (8 pts) Sweden (Race details: 1,1,2,1,1,2,2)
2: 'J. Hard Ultragas' Gorgerino Davide (11 pts) Italy (Race details: 2,2,1,2,3,1,5)
3: 'Just A Joke' Gastaud Gilles (23 pts) Yacht Club de Monaco (Race details: 10,4,4,3,5,4,3)

H22 (14 registered) - 7 races of which 6 counted
Here in the Principality last year for the first time, the H22 class confirmed their attraction to the Primo Cup with 14 boats taking part. It was the Italian Stilo Paolo Montefusco, Italy’s 2002 Mumm 30 champion and former olympic contender in the 470s who won with three race victories. This sports car enthusiast has won each of his three H22 regattas

1: 'Stilo' Fassitelli Ludovico (11 pts) Italie. (Race details: 4,2,1,2,1,6,1)
2: 'Mintakino' Ivaldi Francesco (17 pts)Ital