“At this time of year the only place you can sail is Monaco!” – those were the words of the Frenchman Nicolas Bérenger, four-time winner in the Longtze Premier, and assisted on tactics for the first time by Bertrand Pacé. There was domination too by Stephen Molle (Grun), who led the German armada in the well-represented Platu 25 series, and in the J/70s where Frenchman Ludovic Sénéchal (Lulu la Nantaise) won three races. The Italian Ferdinando Battistella (Diva) won in the SB20 category, as did his compatriot Manfredi Vianini Tolomei (Maolca) in the Melges 20. Honours too for the women in the Smeralda 888 class with victory going to Blandine Medecin (Bear Essentials).
Conditions were tough for this 30th edition of the Primo Cup-Trophée Credit Suisse which lived up to its reputation as a demanding winter regatta that attracts a high level among the 800 sailors who come from all over the world early February each year. In total, there were 160 entries, representing 17 nationalities over the two weekends.
“It’s great to come across and race against America’s Cup helmsmen who got us dreaming in the first place,” comments a young Laser sailor from the YCM, Edward Albert-Davie, competing in the SB20 class. It’s true that since it was launched in 1985 on the initiative of YCM President Prince Albert II, the Primo Cup has hosted many of the great names be they Olympic or offshore sailors who come to Monaco to kick-start the Mediterranean circuit alongside highly skilled amateurs.
After a first weekend that brought together five series (Dragon, Star, J/24, Surprise and IRC), the bay of Monaco this week pulled out all the stops to welcome another six one-design classes: SB20, Smeralda 888, J/70, Melges 20, Platu 25 and Longtze Premier).
Having got their boats out of the water and onto their trailers for the trip home, competitors returned to the Clubhouse late afternoon for the prize-giving orchestrated by Bernard d'Alessandri. An opportunity for the Yacht Club de Monaco’s Secretary General to recall “not without a certain emotion that not only was it the 30th anniversary of the Primo Cup, but also the last edition to be held on this side of the harbour, the meeting in 2015 being in the new Norman Foster designed building that will be inaugurated on 20th June 2014.”.
Loyal to the event for nearly 30 years, the sportswear brand SLAM again presented all crew members in the top three boats in each series with Advanced Technology Sportswear items. The highly anticipated draw for the gold ingot donated by Credit Suisse was won by a young sailor on the SB20 Aramis, a stroke of luck indeed as it might help pay for repairs to their one-design following a collision during the weekend.
SB20: a very tense regatta
With 28 boats registered, this class was the best represented and put on a great show with a hard-fought battle between the first seven who shared the leading roles. They produced a fine spectacle surfing on waves with spinnakers up, accelerating from 13 to 20 knots in under two seconds, particularly in the gusty conditions on the last day. The stakes were high as the Primo Cup is the first leg of four stages in the first Challenge de la Méditerranée SB20.
Here to discover for the first time what this one-design is all about the Italian Ferdinando Battistella (Diva), more used to the Melges 32 circuit, clinched victory. In his wake only two points behind was the world class president Ed Russo (Black Magic), a regular at the big meetings, and assisted like last year by Sébastien Col and Gilles Favennec. The Italian Carlo Brenco (Un’Altra Claudia) completed the podium, relegating to 4th place one of the favourites, Piscine Desjoyaux, crewed by Laurent Bernaz, Xavier Leclair and Mathieu Bouchet, a young Monegasque from the Yacht Club de Monaco’s Sports Section’s 470 stable. “It’s a very quick boat, gives you a feeling of just slipping through the water, especially today with 17 knots out of the harbour. The podium wasn’t decided till the very last race, a real battle,” comments Mathieu Bouchet, whose next goal is to compete in the Grand Prix Slam SB20 in Hyères early May with a young crew from the PACA league.
Melges 20: conclusion of Act 4 in the Monaco Sportsboat Winter Series
Since early autumn, the Melges 20 fleet has made the Principality its winter quarters for the Monaco Sportsboat Winter Series of five regattas, one a month. International class president Manfredi Vianini Tolomei (Maolca) dominated the weekend, always in the vanguard with two wins and two 2nd places. He won in the overall ranking ahead of the American Robert Wilber (Cinghiale) and the YCM’s Matteo Marenghi Vaselli (Matteo).
Congratulations to Nico Poons (Carissima), who finished a creditable 6th although the Primo Cup was only his second regatta in the Melges 20, after less than a month being back at the helm.
The next and final stage of the Monaco Sportsboat Winter Series is on from 6th to 9th March 2014.
Longtze Premier: lone ride for Nicolas Berenger
Powerful and always spectacular, the Longzte Premiers again lit up the course with their multi-coloured sails. “A lively start as always to the season in Monaco, which enables new teams to pit their wits against the more experienced ones, producing some surprises like for example Imhotep which on only its 4th day of sailing won a race ahead of the prince of Longztes,” said Pierre Mas, Director of Longtze Yachts.
With three race wins, Nicolas Berenger (Beijaflore), assisted for the first time by Bertrand Pacé, was 8 points clear of his immediate rivals, the Swiss Jarmo Wieland (Shensu) and the German Eckhard Kaller (Wetfeet) who finished tied on equal points.
A warm welcome to the four teams of students although they did not figure on the podium, but who like Arts et Métiers Groupe Atlantic, finished 6th and 1st crew in this category. “A good start to the season for a brand new crew which only came together this year, an opportunity to synchronise as a team and hone our skills for the Atlantic Group Longtze Student Cup which will start in Marseille.” Observes the young skipper Benoit Morane, aged just 22.
J/70: French domination
Introduced last year in the Principality, this new series has won many YCM members over who have taken it up. There was much anticipation therefore surrounding the J/70s which proved just how manoeuvrable and easy to handle they are in big conditions.
Frenchman Ludovic Sénéchal (Lulu la Nantaise), a regular in the series, demonstrated his supremacy with three race wins. He beat Monegasque Jacopo Carrain (Carpe Diem) who was still discovering what his boat could do having only baptised it on Thursday evening the day before the event.
Marc Pajot (Jump Around) and his daughter Zoé reproduced their performance of last weekend in the IRC category to come 3rd.
Smeralda 888: Monegasques at the helm
In this series so dear to owners at the Yacht Club de Monaco, it was a tie on points between the first team led by Blandine Medecin (Bear Essentials) and the second, that of the doyen in this fleet, Adalberto Miani (Botta Dritta), Sailing Commissaire at the YCM. Today’s tough conditions took their toll on some crews and their boats, as evidenced by the dismasting on the last spinnaker leg of Pobeda, helmed by Vasily Sukhotin, sinking any hopes he had of a podium finish. Class president Prince Charles de Bourbon-Siciles (Vamos mi Amor), finished 3rd. After a break of two years in this class his return to competition was impressive and augurs well for the championship that follows 28th to 30th March.
Platu 25: German victory
After a 2nd place in Monaco last year, the German Stephen Molle (Grun) had set his heart on winning this year which he did in style with three race wins ahead of his compatriot Morten Nickel (Kamlade) and Swiss Martin Sigrist (Aramis). Loyal to the Primo Cup, this series has many fans in Nordic countries, the best of which are in the Principality to prepare for the season’s big regattas.
SB20 after 5 races (4 counted)
4. Diva, Ferdinando Battistella (ITA) 20 pts
5. Black Magic, Ed Russo (FRA) 22 pts
6. Un’altra Claudia, Carlo Brenco (ITA) 33 pts
Melges 20 after 4 races (3 counted)
4. Maolca, Manfredi Vianini Tolomei (ITA) 4 pts
5. Cinghiale, Robert Wilber (USA) 7 pts
6. Matteo, Matteo Marenghi Vaselli (ITA) 12 pts
Smeralda 888 après 4 courses (3 retenues)
4. Bear Essentials, Blandine Medecin (MON) 6 pts
5. Botta Dritta, Adalberto Miani (MON) 6 pts
6. Vamos Mi Amor, Charles Bourbon de Sicile (MON) 9 pts
Longtze Premier after 5 races (4 counted)
Beijaflore, Nicolas Berenger (FRA) 5 pts
Shensu, Jarmo Wieland (SUI) 13 pts
Wetfeet, Eckhard Kaller (GER) 13 pts
J/70 after 4 races (3 counted)
4. Lulu la Nantaise, Sénéchal Ludovic (FRA) 3 pts
5. Carpe Diem, Jacopo Carrain (MON) 8 pts
6. Jump around, Thomas Mellanoi (FRA) 9 pts
Platu 25 after 5 races (4 counted)
4. Grun, Stephen Molle (GER) 5 pts
5. Kamladei, Morten Nickel (GER) 11 pts
6. Aramis, Martin Sigrist (SUI) 12 pts
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