Swan has crowned its winners across the four classes of the Swan One Design Worlds after a week characterised by challenging conditions. The triumphant owners and crews have the right to consider themselves the best in the world after battling to the top of the leader board in St Tropez.
After a final day that delivered more shifty wind and allowed two races only for the two smaller classes, there were some fresh faces on the podium. Newcomer Jerome Stubler’s ClubSwan 42 Raving Swan gave a masterclass in consistent performance on his way to victory. After the day’s first race he was level-pegging with Natalia, but in second place because he hadn’t scored a bullet in the week. There was a nervous wait to hear whether a second race would be held, before a crackled message from the race committee in the affirmative.
Stubler’s voice breaks as he relates the story. “Luckily they ran a new race and then we had two boats to mark – Natalia and Spirit of Nerina. It was a tough race and my son did really well in taking the shift and marking. Really, I still feel the emotion. I’m very, very happy for the team.”
In the new ClubSwan 36 class, it was Giangiacomo Serena di Lapigio’s boat G-Spot which clung onto a commanding lead to close out the regatta. Three bullets at the start of the regatta had set them up, and excellent tactical sailing in today’s two races allowed them to fend off a late challenge from Fra Martina.
“It’s an amazing feeling,” said G-Spot tactician Michele Paoletti. “We worked really hard all the season and got a good result on the Nations League circuit. This was the last one, so it’s super good. The sailing area has been really tricky – the wind was shifting a lot. We managed the first two days really well and have also been a little bit lucky, which of course you always need.”
In truth, G-Spot has led throughout, counting just one poor finish in fickle winds on day three of the competition. Though Serena di Lapigio’s team only joined the class this season, he and his crew have huge experience from the Melges 32 and have always looked like a force to be reckoned with.
In the Swan 45 class, last year’s World Champion Motions made it two in a row. With just one race in the day for the 45s, there was an element of match racing to the duel between Lennard van Oeveren’s Motions and Argentinian Fernando Chain’s From Now On.
“It is indescribable,” said van Oeveren afterwards. “We were two points behind when we started this race because we didn’t do that well yesterday. We came onto the water with a lot of hope. We sailed our race as well as we could and finished up third and ahead of the Argentinians. We were sailing on them, looking at them, but the pressure was actually on them as soon as we were bow ahead. It was really nice to have the fight on the water.”
And despite an unaccustomed slip-up on the third day of racing, ClubSwan 50 Hatari has closed out the regatta to win a second consecutive World Championship. After a couple of false starts for the CS50 fleet, Marcus Brennecke’s boat gave an almost flawless display to finish second today and see off a stiff challenge from Earlybird and Cuordileone.
“I am very happy and very relieved, I can tell you,” said Brennecke. “Really the pressure was on because we were so close – one point separating the first three boats and then it was light wind. We got a hook on Earlybird, we went off and they had to tack away and then we tried to cover them for the rest of the race. I intended to fly out this evening but now I will stay and celebrate with the crew!”
Crews and owners brought traffic in the centre of St Tropez to a standstill as they gathered for the final prizegiving. Nautor Group CEO Giovanni Pomati paid tribute to a great venue. “We are at the end of this fantastic season. Thank you to the city of St Tropez for hosting us and giving us the opportunity to see this incredible event, which will remain in our hearts for a long time. It was a prolongation of our summer – this sunny and warm home with the autumn colours. We had to pay for that with some changing wind conditions, but that just made it even more challenging for the teams.”
ClubSwan Racing’s head of Swan sports activities, Federico Michetti, looked back on a terrific season. “I am seriously proud of what we’ve achieved – 40 races, five venues, 41 boats, 500 sailors – it’s something unique. Having the worlds in St Tropez now has been a fantastic emotion. Super tight racing with a lot of fun, family spirit – this is Swan, this is unique. But tomorrow we will start to work hard for 2022. Next season is already very close.”
15 October 2021
Light Airs get the Swan OD Worlds off to a Technical Start
Electricity crackled along the quayside yesterday morning as crews prepared for the first race of Swan OD Worlds in St Tropez. After the relaxed fun of opening ceremony, tension was palpable as final checks were made and sails stowed. But the wind had other ideas and with only a breath to disturb the waters of the Gulf of St Tropez, AP was hoisted over the Capitainerie to delay the start.
When the flag finally came down around 1.30pm, teams scrambled aboard and boats flooded out of the harbour to begin pacing the startline. Being exceedingly lightly built with powerful sailplans, all four of the Swan one-design classes perform well in winds from around five knots. But it makes for tricky, technical sailing, where any mistakes are punished, and the slightest shift or gust can make or break a race.
“It has a lot to do with your mindset,” says Edoardo Ferragamo, helmsman of ClubSwan 36 ThirtySix. “You have to be very patient and the wind is very unstable – maybe some moment you have a strong gust, then five minutes later no wind at all, so that affects a lot the ranking and the positions of the race. You have to keep calm.”
He placed a respectable sixth in the 10-boat CS36 class, where the day’s only race was won by Giangiacomo Serena di Lapigio’s G-Spot – no stranger to the podium. But it was arguably a bigger victory for the Loro Piana brothers’ boat Sease, which scored a well-deserved second place after struggling for form.
“This result gives us something to be positive about,” says Franco Loro Piana. “The race was tough because of the wind switching a lot, so it was all about following the big shifts and chasing for pressure. Feeling in this type of regatta is very important – tacking when you have to.”
There are many new crews and owners here in St Tropez who are still learning the boats and their ways. But even for the old hands, like tactician Bouwe Bekking on ClubSwan 50 Balthasar, every event is a chance to do things better. “We have been maximising training in the days beforehand, getting out early while the others are still on the dock,” Bekking says. “You just try to get better and better all the time, and then afterwards, you analyse how the day has gone and make adjustments according to that and keep pushing all the time.”
Balthasar showed flashes of pace at the last event in Palma with two bullets alongside two twelfth places. But Bekking is adamant that the team are aiming for the top spot. “You always say you’re going out to win,” he insists.
But it among the CS50s, it was Hatari who won the race. “We tried to stay relaxed,” says owner Marcus Brennecke. “But then of course we discussed where to start and were lucky to be the second boat at the pin end. With a left shift it looked obviously very good, then we tacked immediately and could cross the field. That was the secret of the race and we tried to defend and play the shifts.”
Being the final event of the season, and a World Championship to boot, teams are pulling out all the stops for victory. Some boats have been saving the ‘best main’ to eke out an advantage here, while others were still tinkering with mast rake and sail trim until the boat left the quay.
“We know it is a special, unique event, so everyone will probably play a bit more riskily in this event,” says Alvaro Marinho, a top pro sailor on the CS36 Farstar, which placed eighth today. “We have achieved a bit over our expectations during this season, as we are a new team, and finished third in the end-of-season rankings. We want to keep this level in this event.”
Hopes were also high on Koyré – Spirit of Nerina, the ClubSwan 42 that is co-owned by five people. The boat performed particularly well in the Sardinia Challenge in June, with two bullets and two seconds earning a second place overall in the class. But she has struggled for form since then, missing the Nations Trophy in Palma altogether.
“Of course we are all hoping for a win,” exclaims co-owner and bow man Luca Formentini. “We have been sailing together for almost 20 years, so we are very close. The boat is fast – she is strong, reactive and very full of adrenaline. We will try our best and maybe we get one of the first three positions on the podium.”
But today, as on so many occasions this year, it was the CS42 Natalia which crossed the line first. Here again it was a story of winning the start. “It was a tricky day deciding where to start,” says tactician Federico Martin Armenanzas Quiroz. “It was shifting to the left, but the pressure was on the right, so it helped to watch the 36s. We were leading for the whole race, but we were fighting, fighting against Raving Swan who were going really fast.”
In the eight-strong Swan 45 class, it was Lennard van Oeveren’s Motions which took first place, followed by class debutants From Now On and Blue Sky. And with the prospect of stronger westerlies tomorrow, all the fleet will be relishing the opportunity to reset the scoresheet.
8 October 2021
Stage is set in St Tropez for the season’s grand finale with the Swan One Design Worlds
Crews and owners are making their final preparations ahead of the biggest event in the ClubSwan Racing calendar, which gets under way on 13 October. They’ve had their eyes on the Swan One Design Worlds in St Tropez since the start of the season and have been building up to glory. A record fleet of 42 boats is starting to assemble, intent on battling it out for the ultimate title in their class.
The lure of being crowned World Champion in St Tropez has drawn some new boats into the fleet. ClubSwan 50 Django is well known on the IRC/ORC circuit, but owner Giovanni Lombardi is keen to take a tilt at the big prize. There are also three new entrants in the Swan 45 class, Ex Officio, From Now On and Blue Sky. It means there’ll be some new flags flying when racing gets under way on 13 October – notably the Greek and Argentinean colours. Owners from 18 different nations are taking part.
All four ClubSwan classes are well represented, with ten CS36s, seven CS42s, eight Swan 45s and an impressive 17 CS50s. With so many of the bigger boats on the racecourse, the start is going to be even more crucial than usual. Tacticians will have to weigh up the merits of clean air versus scrapping at the favoured end of the line. Starts so far this season have been pretty clean, but we’ve witnessed several times how hard it is to come back from a starting penalty against this hugely competitive fleet.
“The Swan One Design Worlds mark the end of the season for ClubSwan Racing and we are delighted to have 42 competitors from 18 nations celebrating the sport of sailing with us,” says Giovanni Pomati, Nautor Group CEO. “Watching so many one designs, helmed by talented owner-drivers, competing together and testing their abilities in the iconic setting of St. Tropez makes us very proud at Nautor.
“18 different cultures racing at sea and enjoying their time ashore highlight how fun, inclusive and amazing this sport is, and we are delighted to be one of the few yards to organise such events. We will keep working very hard in this direction to boost the exhilaration the sport of sailing can give.”
Looking to defend their 2020 titles are Marcus Brennecke’s Hatari in the CS50 class, Lennard van Oeveren’s Swan 45 Motions, and Andrea Lacorte’s Vitamina in the CS36 class. After the restricted number of yachts participating last year due to the pandemic, the 2021 Worlds promise to be more competitive than ever.
Many yachts in each class are capable of carrying off the title, and the jockeying for position has been intense this season. After four events, the top boats in each class are G-Spot, the CS36 sailed by Giangiacomo Serena di Lapigio; Natalia Brailoiu’s CS42 Natalia; Stefano Masi’s Swan 45 Ulika; and Brennecke’s CS50 Hatari.
Conditions in the sheltered Gulf of St Tropez are typically warm and settled in October. The elements here are perfectly suited to providing exactly what the ClubSwan boats enjoy the most: smooth seas and a good breeze, with an outside chance of stiffer Mistral winds from the north.
For the winners, it will be the vindication of a whole season of hard campaigning. But every crew has made huge improvements over the year, and everyone will return home satisfied and delighted by the hospitality of the Société Nautique de St Tropez, which is hosting the racing.
More than any other town on the glamorous French Riviera, St Tropez embodies the spirit of elegant sailing endeavour. Sporting fair play and timeless lines are as much part of life there as pétanques on the Place des Lices or sundowners in the cafés around the Vieux Port.
Thanks also to our partners including BMW, Rolex, Salvatore Ferragamo, Ferrari Trento, Sease, Banor, North Sails, Quantum Sails, Gottifredi Maffioli, Garmin, B&G and Marevivo.
It’s going to be a big week of racing.