October 8, 2017

While the beauty and splendour of Lake Thun have not been lost on the 5.5 Metre fleet at the Autumn Trophy (Herbstpreis), the wind did get lost on the final day with no more races possible.

So, New Moon, BAH 21 (Christoph Burger, Flavio Marazzi, Peter Vlasov) takes a second regatta win in a row, after taking the win in Cannes last week. Second place goes Marie-Françoise XIX, SUI 228 (Jürg Menzi, Dino Fumasoli, Christof Wilke) with Nina, SUI 215 (Heinz Saurer, Hans Scheidegger, Maja Siegenthaler) in third.

The overnight rain had cleared and after a brief wait ashore on Sunday morning the fleet was sent out in a light breeze. However, on arrival at the start area there was barely enough breeze to fly the flags. The fleet waited…and waited…and waited. Some went ashore to the nearest pub, some edged back towards the club but apart from the occasional cat’s-paw on the water, there was no sign of wind. The lake was like a mirror. Eventually at 13.00 the race officer gave up and sent the fleets home.

So the results remain from Saturday.

Second overall, Menzi explained what keeps him in the class. “It’s a very tactical boat. It allows me to go sailing. It’s far away from a speedy boat but it goes well upwind and also downwind it’s really very tactical downwind, knowing when you have to gybe and to calculate the angles.”

He has been in the class for 30 years. “I sailed Soling for a long time and before that when I was younger dinghies, 505, Finn, Contender, 420, 470, but when the Soling finished in Switzerland we started with the 5.5 Metre.”

He praised the quality of the racing. “Switzerland is one of the main fleets in the world so we always have enough boats. 20-30 years ago the local fleets were bigger but it’s always sailors of good quality and it’s not so easy to win.”

Wiebe de Witte is one of the furthest traveled to sail in Thun. Sailing onDuchess of B with Victorine Bredero, they have been coming to Thun every year for 10 years and just love the lake and the end of season get together for the 5.5 Metre sailors.

“We do it every year. It marks the end of the season. In Holland we don’t usually have very good summers, so about 10 years ago Victorine decided to have one last race somewhere and ever since then we come here.”

“It is super fun. We like the environment and the Thunersee.”

He has been sailing 5.5s since 2005. “We started in an evolution hull, though it was modern at the time, and then in 2007 Victorine bought a modern boat.” De Witte is a boatbuilder at home and looks after the maintenance of the Dutch 5.5 Metre fleet. “We have nine active boats at the moment including four classics and three boats that sail internationally.”

“The 5.5 is super cool sailing. It’s technical sailing, you can really push the boat to its limit and if you make one little mistake you immediate get punished for it, and that’s fun. It goes fast upwind, you have the trim keel to play with, and I like the spinnakers as well. Today it’s all about speed and asymmetrics, but I like the tactics of the normal spinnaker.”

Former World Champion, Flavio Marrazi was brought in at the last minute to fill the middle position on regatta winner, New Moon. His history in the class is legendary, winning the Swiss Championship and the European Championship in his first season at 14 year of age, crewing for his father, and then winning six world titles, five as helmsman over the next 12 years.

“In 2002, we built a new boat for the Worlds in Helsinki and I sailed with my father and brother and I think we are still the only family crew to have won the world championship. It is a nice memory.”

“My father sailed the Star and tried to find something new, and there were some boats here in Thun. It was quite a competitive class here and in 2004 I started steering the boat. It was really nice with the world-class sailors in the fleet. It was always a nice boat.”

“This class is special because it’s a construction class, but from 2002 on the boats are very similar so it’s almost a one-design class, so the competition became much closer, than in say the 1990s.”

“There are marginal differences. It’s all about teamwork, and really fine-tuning of the boat, very similar to the Star. But maybe now it’s time to come up with something new. Surely there is a gap somewhere in the rules. There is always room for improvement.”

“How you sail the boat in different conditions makes a huge difference. When I started, my crew was much more dynamic and tried to push the boat much more than before. It became more of a dinghy style of sailing. This is where you make the biggest difference compared to the old school style of sailing.”

On the racing here in Thun, “It was really nice racing. We didn’t have the best starts, but always came back. And it’s always nice to see how we can sail the boat with a very experienced crew and stay calm even if you are OCS. It was good, and a lot of fun.”

Final results here.