A total of 30 boats have turned up at Lake Garda for the Murphy & Nye 1720 European Championship which starts today

A total of 30 boats and 175 competitors, complete with their holidaymaking entourage, have now arrived in the beautiful Italian town of Riva on the shores of Lake Garda, to compete in the Murphy & Nye 1720 European Championship which starts today. Hosted by Fraglia Vela Riva the event looks set to be one of the most hotly fought in the recent history of the class.

Although 2004 Champion Robert Greenhalgh is absent (his Volvo Ocean race commitments with Team ABN AMRO have kept him away this year) the Greenhalgh family are still extremely well represented at the event. Libby Greenhalgh is helming Splash Test Honeys, crewed by a team of fine ladies including owner Jane Mclelland. Peter Greenhalgh is tactician on board John Cooper and Bill Vance’ Oi!, and following a Class win at Cowes Week this year Oi! Will certainly be a key contender here. Dad, David Greenhalgh, and his co-owner Paul Lovejoy will also be racing on board the family ship G&T.

Second at last year’s championship were Ruairidh Scott and team in King Quick. This team has to be the hot favourite for the 2005 title at this stage in the game: current 1720 UK National Champion, Scott is also the 2005 J/80 World Champion. Both his 1720 tactician, Ben Field, and his bow-girl (sister Anna) crewed with him at the J/80 Worlds and share his World Champion title.

However, looking down the list of competitors it is extremely hard to predict what will happen here over the next few days. The fleet includes plenty of major championship winners from both 1720s and other racing classes and even boasts a few Olympians and Olympic hopefuls.

From Ireland, Maurice ‘Prof’ O’Connell is sailing again with Des Faherty in Aquatack having taken a break from his Olympic Star campaign to see if he can win back the 1720 Euro crown he first donned three years ago. Another notable Irish contender is Anthony O’Leary and his team in Antix. Anthony has had as much time on the water in 1720s as anyone else here and has had great success racing keelboats generally, but he also won the 1720 Class at the Scottish Series this year.

Of the UK boats Andy Smith’s Twister has shown extremely strong recent form and Ian Atkins in Boats.com is going to love the pumping breeze for which Riva and Lake Garda are famous. Geoff Carveth, sailing tactic micronet could easily be right up in the chocolates – there are few racing classes with which Geoff has not been involved over the years.