The Nation’s League racing circuit will get under way in late May (25-29), when committed ClubSwan sailors return to the Mediterranean for the Swan Tuscany Challenge, organised by the Yacht Club Isole di Toscana in Italy.
The Tuscany Challenge marks the welcome return of Swan one-design racing in the Med, after a hiatus in 2020 which saw just two scaled-down events. Around 14 yachts in each class have signed up to compete, their skippers a blend of familiar faces and exciting newcomers to the scene. In the ClubSwan 36 class alone, there are an impressive five debuts. From Norway and Germany to Spain and, of course, Italy – most of Europe’s sailing nations are represented among the line-up. There is strong representation from Russian sailors and even a Norwegian-Brazilian entry.
German Markus Brennecke’s Hatari, current World Champion and Italian Andrea Lacorte’s Vitamina Cetilar2020 Gold Cup Winner will fight hard to defend their titles. Russian Dmitry Rybolovlev is looking for a second consecutive win in the CS50 class, after success at Swan OD Scarlino Warm-Up, with his renamed boat Sparti (ex-Skorpidi). He will be up against some veteran teams, including Swan owner Leonardo Ferragamo, whose sons are also hoping to win again in their CS36 ThirtySix.
An interesting twist sees model Daria Strokous joining the CS36 fleet in Skorpidi with an all-female team packed with Olympians like Sofia Bekatorou and Natalia Via Dufresne. Several Luna Rossa stars are also racing, with skipper Francesco Bruni running tactics on the debut CS36 Fra Martina and Vasco Vascotto competing on CS50 Bronenosec. Other household names include Iker Martinez (tactician, Ulika), Jesper Radich (tactician, Earlybird), Bouwe Bekking (tactician, Balthasar) and Markus Wieser (tactician, Hatari).
Competition will take place over 11 individual races for each class, following a classic windward-leeward course of about an hour. All the action unfolds in the sheltered waters off the Tuscan coast at Scarlino, renowned for its beautiful backdrop and steady sea breezes. As a one-design event, the racing is always close, but expect hard-fought tacking battles, competitive starts and plenty of close-quarters action on the water.
Swan’s racing programme was curtailed last year, due to the Covid pandemic, but organisers are back with an exceedingly robust testing strategy, allowing the regatta to go ahead. There will be no race village as such, and any social events will be modest and completely in line with the Italian government regulations in force at the time.
The Tuscany Challenge is the first of four events making up The Nation’s League this year. Together with the Sardinia Challenge, the Copa del Rey and the biennial Nation’s Trophy, these hotly contested regattas culminate in the Swan One Design Worlds, which closes the season and determines the winning campaigns.