Grandson – Challenging racing conditions produced a tactical first day of racing at the Star Sailors League Lake Grand Slam hosted by Cercle de la Voile de Grandson, Switzerland. Clouds rising above the Jura Mountains signified that the arrival of the chill northerly wind, known as La Bise, translated as ‘the kiss’ which funnels down the valley between the Jura Mountains and the Swiss Prealps. The first two races were held in a gusty 12-16 knots of breeze but it wasn’t a lingering kiss, the last two races were fought out in a lighter flukier conditions, which tested the concentration and will power of the 68 teams from 22 different countries.
There were numerous general recalls disciplined by Black flag starts and notable offenders included Torben Grael & Guilherme De Almeida and Johannes Polgar & Markus Koy, both were adjudged to be on course side in Race 2. However the Brazilian duo scored two bullets today, and after counting a discard, are placed fourth after the first days racing.
Augie Diaz & Arnis Baltins from the USA top the leaderboard after four races having scored -6-1-4. Augie & Arnie have been sailing together for about five years and consistent results in the top ten, boosted by a bullet in Race 3, has propelled the Americans to the top but only just. Gold Star, George Szabo racing with local expert, Patrick ‘The Duke’ Ducommun, is second by a single point. Reigning Star World Champions, Robert Stanjek & Frithjof Kleen, scored a 4-1 in the first two races to lead the championship but the lighter conditions did not seem to suit the German pair, scoring a 8- in the final two races, to finish the day in third. There are 22 teams from Switzerland racing in the regatta, Henrik Dannesboe & Jan Bonhoeffer were top Swiss team today and had an epic duel with Torben Grael & Guilherme De Almeida in the last race. Dannesboe & Bonhoeffer nailed the start and held off the Brazilian team for three legs. However, Grael & De Almeida out foxed the Swiss pair at the very last mark to take the gun pushing the Swiss team into second.
The SSL Lake Grand Slam has a different format to other regattas with a knock-out stage. After the three days of racing, 11 teams will progress. There are few surprises after the first day, with Gold and Silver Stars peppering the top of the leader board. However, the Croatian pair, Marin Misura & Tonko Barac, recovered from a 24th in Race 1, to post 12-3-10 and take 10th place after 4 races. Croatian Ivan Gašpić racing with American Josh Revkin, had a blip in Race 3 but scored 9-5--6 to take 7th place after the first day.
After 4 races 21 teams have scored top ten finishes, showing the strength in depth of this magnificent field, up to four races are scheduled for tomorrow. Action continues tomorrow with Race 5 scheduled to start at 09:30 (EST). With expert commentary from special studio guests, including Dennis Conner. On the water, the latest in hi-tech camera technology, as well as Virtual Eye 3D Graphics, will provide thrilling viewing. Armchair sailors can also join the race with Virtual Regatta.