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2019 5.5 Metre French Open at the Régates Royales Cannes - Overall

by Robert Deaves 28 Sep 17:10 NZST 24-28 September 2019

Otto (SUI 209, Bent Christian Wilhelmsen, Lasse Berthelsen, Luka Strahovnik) sealed victory at the 5.5 Metre French Open at the Régates Royales Cannes on Friday after two more race wins in further light winds. Shaolin (SUI 226, Cyrus Golchan, Hans von Werdt, Andreas Kindlimann) again had a good day to move up to second, while Prettynama (GER 79, Max Mueller, Wiebe de Witte, Kim Chabani) dropped to third.

It was another light wind day on Cannes bay and with the course area closer inshore than previously, it provided a minefield of shifts and changes under the lee of the island. The points were very close going into the day, so there was still everything to be won or lost.

However, Otto proved again to be the best boat on the water with two comfortable race wins to take the French Open by a five-point margin. After placing second for the past two years, this win marks Bent Christian Wilhelmsen's first ever regatta win in the class and he was understandably delighted.

Wilhelmsen said, "It was tough sailing both upwind and downwind. The weather was quite challenging; we hoped for a little bit more wind, but it picked up from about 4 knots at the beginning, but still a little bit tricky and shifty. It needed a lot of concentration."

"We managed to break through in the first race and lead at the top mark, and we increased our lead on the downwind and then we were home free."

Shaolin followed in second with Prettynama third, to set up a final race decider for second overall.

"The wind was increasing for the second race, but we weren't sure they would manage both races. We started in the middle; as the wind had changed to southerly, from the island, which was more challenging. We managed to play the shifts, and managed to break away which is vey important to be able to be free. We had a very small lead over Shaolin who were very quick today. They followed us downwind to the gate and again we played the shifts and we were lucky and got away and won that race as well."

Shaolin again crossed in second to secure second overall, while Ali Baba (GER 84, Wolf-Eberhard Richter, Beala Kallkowski, Joachim Fluhrer) sailed another excellent race to cross in third, with both Prettynana and Oro Nero, just boatlengths behind.

Ali Baba took the prize for the first Evolution boat while Berlin (GER 2, Georg J. Kierspel, Dirk Wittstock, Joerg Sonntag) received a prize as the best Classic. The beautifully kept Berlin, built in 1952, certainly pulled a few eyes at the regatta, of which the main show is the classic yacht racing of all sizes up to 55 metres.

The Régates Royales Cannes traditionally marks the end of the International 5.5 calendar, but those who sailed this year are already looking forward to returning next year, with hopefully greater numbers. With the 2020 European Championship a short distance away in San Remo, Italy, next August, sailors will be able to compete in two major events over a four-week period, while leaving boats down south between regattas. It sounds like a perfect excuse for some 5.5 sailing.

Overall Results: (top five, 8 races)

1 Otto (SUI 209, Bent Christian Wilhelmsen, Lasse Berthelsen, Luka Strahovnik) 9pts
2 Shaolin (SUI 226, Cyrus Golchan, Hans von Werdt, Andreas Kindlimann) 14pts
3 Prettynama (GER 79, Max Mueller, Wiebe de Witte, Kim Chabani) 17pts
4 Ali Baba (GER 84, Wolf-Eberhard Richter, Beala Kallkowski, Joachim Fluhrer) 27pts
5 Oro Nero (GER 55, Henning Ueck, Jesper Boskamp, Ilse Boskamp) 34pts

Full results available here.

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