The Europhile wing of the UK International 14 class moved to Brunnen in central Switzerland for the August Bank Holiday weekend. A clash with the Skiff Pro Tour event in Campione meant the expected entries from Germany were missing, but the Swiss and UK boats there represented state-of-the-art designs from Bieker, Morrison and Ovington and builders from the UK, US and Australia.
A long distance warm-up race on Friday afternoon took in most of the lakeside scenery, including close-up visits to the inside of local marinas and pleasure beaches in a series of One Man and His Boat-style manoeuvring tests. Bobby Schiess took the opportunity to show what wider racks can do to downwind pointing ability, to win comfortable from Anders Gasser and Philipp Kaenzig and Martin Pascal and Caroline Gosford.
The weekend regatta is very popular with the Swiss, set as it is in a perfect Alpine postcard location with stunning mountain scenery surrounding clear warm water and a breeze whose reliability makes Garda look like Torbay in August. Other classes included Tempests and RS600s from Switzerland and Italy, while the 14s shared their start with 49ers, which gave them the opportunity to show the Swiss Olympic hopefuls what proper skiff sailing is all about.
Class rivalry was to the fore at the start of the first race, as the 14s got to grips with the 49ers tendency to create a floating, shouting tennis court prior to setting off. Andrew Penman and Damian Ash, Anders Gasser and Philipp Kaenzig and Peter Dann and Dominic Stanislaus managed to extricate themselves from the pack into a clear 12-15 knot breeze, and built distance away from the chasing pack. Dann and Stanislaus overtook Gasser and Kaenzig before the first mark, but these three stayed locked together round both laps of the windward/leeward course, with Penman/Ash winning seconds ahead of Dann/Stanislaus and Gasser/Kaenzig.
Race two was more eventful. The same three made their start line getaway, but this time Penman sailed too close too the cliffs with the main St Gotthard motorway perched above, causing him (so he claims) first to capsize and then to throw Ash out of the boat. Dann/Stanislaus took full advantage to round the weather mark with a 100 metre lead but then lost it to Gasser and Kaenzig who sailed off on a steaming unassailable lead.
The last race of the afternoon saw Penman/Ash and Dann/Stanislaus break away and enjoy some close upwind covering, until Penman/Ash picked up a lake-long gust downwind which saw them lay the leeward mark in one very wet and fast leg.
Sunday saw rather more breeze but with the water still flat, allowing the 14s to really take off downwind while retaining more or less full control. That said, several crews took the opportunity to check the local information that the water could be drunk straight from the lake.
Race four and Gasser and Kaenzig were out of the start line at speed, followed by Caro Billing and Claude Fischer. Penman and Ash finally escaped from the start line crowd to overhaul both Swiss teams, who were left fighting for second place, with Gasser and Kaenzig prevailing.
In the final race, the breeze was up. Penman/Ash and Gasser/Kaenzig got clear while Dann/Stanislaus and Pascal/Gosford were pinned to the far left by a gaggle of 49ers. Eventually tacking off, Dann/Satnislaus found overdrive to overhaul both Pascal/Gosford and Gasser/Kaenzig by the first mark. Penman and Ash were clear away down the run, but when they were forced to gybe off Dann/Stanislaus found more breeze to the left and were only a length down by the leeward mark. The two were locked together for the final round, with a spectacular final run at speed through a crowd of dead 49ers, but Penman and Ash held on for victory, while Gasser and Kaenzig’s third was enough to give them second place, a point ahead of Dann and Stansilaus.
Following his victory at the St Moritz Supercup a fortnight before, Andrew Penman can return to th