The GUL RS Eurocup moved to a new venue this year and what a success the Aval-CDV Club made of the event. The Aval-CDV Club is in the small town of Gravedona on the north-west shore of Lake Como. The location provided breath-taking scenery with snow-capped mountains rising directly behind the lake while the foreshore and lower slopes was pleasantly tree lined. Lake Como itself is 45 miles long and approx two miles wide at its northern end. The quickest way to get around Lake Como was on one of the many Hydrofoil ferries, or on the last day an RS800, rather than the narrow roads, which combined with the mad Italian driving gave many competitors a heart stopping welcome to Como! The old town of Gravedona has a very relaxed atmosphere with a very social waterfront. The Aval-CDV Club is based at the southern end of the town with a grassed waterfront with many trees providing welcome shade.
The weather was hot throughout hitting a high of 32 degrees; there was a hint of rain on the last day otherwise there was strong sunshine throughout. With racing not starting before 1300, basically when the wind filled in, the atmosphere ashore was positively horizontal. The majority of competitors camped right next to the club with a great waterfront bar/restaurant attached. The relaxed atmosphere was helped by a really friendly host club who could not do more to help people enjoy themselves; a happy hour after sailing of beer and pizza for ‘1.50 was much appreciated.
The combination of rapidly rising mountains surrounding a large mass of water produced complex thermal winds, which gave some varied conditions. The race committee did a superb job always able to anticipate the wind they set good courses throughout, turned races round rapidly and did not take the fleet afloat until they thought the wind was set. For Monday – Wednesday the thermal southerly wind arrived, with some very unusual areas of wind under the cliffs on the eastern shore; many described it as sailing with a hair dryer permanently on. Monday was a shifty Force 3. Tuesday had a Force 2-3 full of holes with huge variations over the course area; you really needed your lucky coin with you when deciding which side to hit. Wednesday gave a Force 3-4, much steadier, which slowly built all day so all classes held their last race in classic conditions.
Thursday saw a very hazy morning, which produced a mess of variable light breezes. The race committee tried to set a course but soon took the fleet ashore eventually to abandon for the day. On Friday most campsite competitors were waken in the morning by strong winds from the north. This wind built during the morning to produce long periods of 25-30 knots around midday. With the mean wind easing, the race committee decided to start racing at 1400 with the 800’s leeward mark just in front of the club and the 400/600’s windward/leeward only 150 yards from the waterfront bars. For the two races the mean wind was around 16-18 knots but there were long bursts of 22-25 knots which arrived with little notice; these bursts of extra wind was made even more interesting as they shifted 30-40 degrees! The spectators were not disappointed as the fleets put on a spectacular display of racing with some immense leeward marks. Every competitor left the water after a big afternoon, tired but very happy with many a tale to tell.
Race one suggested this would be a one horse race as John Lewis/Lizzie Humphries went right up the first beat and won by the preverbal mile. Ian Pickard/Trudie Danbury though went left in race two and won just holding off a very determined Lewis on the final run. In race three Pickard started to leeward and got the immediate sort of shift you can only dream of. Again Lewis closed but some strong defending by Pickard gave him victory by half a boat length.
Race four was the most open of the event and much sympathy must go to the two boats that led. Sarah Taylor/Claire Upton Brown led by