10 June 2014

Italian Half Ton Classics Cup 2014

Elena Celeste - Italian Half Ton champion 2014
The 6th Italian National Championship Half Ton Classic Cup was held in early June in Anzio, Italy. The fleet enjoyed four days of sailing, with five windward-leeward races in the first two days and the final two days dedicated to the longer Asteria Cup coastal race. Racing on the first day the wind was in a fresh 25 knots and large waves making for spectacular racing, and both races were won by Massimo Morasca's prototype Elena Celeste. Second on the day was a reborn Cicci VII. The 2013 winner, the Farr 31 Loucura, sailed by Fabrizio Gagliardi, ended the day in third.

The 11 boat fleet gets underway at the start of the first race
The breeze dropped for the second day to 10-12 knots, before increasing to 18 knots. The first of the three races was won by Domenico Rega's Purchipetola (who later had an OCS in the third race), while Loucura took out the second and the third race. Elena Celeste had a second and a third place and then slipped to fifth in the third race that was won by Loucura.
After the first two days of the provisional standings saw Loucura leading by just half a point from Elena Celeste, with Puchipetola third with 4.5 points behind. 

Loucura and sistership Pili Pili
The Asteria Cup race counted for 1.5 points and would decide the series. The fleet headed off on a windward beat in the first leg in a light south-easterly to Ponza. Loucura benefitted from a wind-shift to the west and arrived at the passage between Gavi and Zannone with a considerable advantage over rest of the fleet. The next leg saw a strong recovery by Helen Celeste, the all-female crew on Maria Letizia Grella on Eta Beta, and David Castile's Prydwen (a Ziggurat 916) in the passage between Ponza and Palmarola under spinnaker in an increasing breeze, which had turned back to the south-east.

Third placed Purchipetola
Loucura's advantage was reduced during the night while the first three boats were involved in a great battle that saw Prydwen prevail to take the Asteria Cup over Elena Celeste, while Loucura faltered to third. Elena Celeste won the ORC Asteria Challenge Trophy with seven of the Half Tonners finishing in the top ten. Loucura was awarded first place in the Half Ton division and the coveted challenge cup "Peppino Morasca".

Elena Celeste's second place in the final race gave her the series, just one point ahead of Loucura, with Purchipetola third. The female crew of Eta Beta was awarded the Half Ton "Spirit" trophy for their fighting spirit shown in the water, wihile the Trophy ASDEC, for the oldest boat in the top five, was presented to Paul Mirabile of Cicci VII.

Morasca acknowledged the good organisation of the series by the Sailing Club of Rome, and the competitive and well prepared fleet. "The strong winds of the first day we favored in those conditions Elena Celeste is strong, even on a jib and a spinnaker sail of Incarbona-Olympic Sails developed with extreme precision, skill and considering my experience on this boat. On the second day with light winds we still defended well. I'm really pleased, to honour Loucura and the rest of the fleet. The spirit that lives in this class is wonderful, and restore a Half Ton is a wonderful company, the costs are low, and the yield is very high in the race - I hope that other owners devote themselves with passion to these IOR era boats". Morasca also noted the efforts of his crew in the long races with the difficult tactics and frequent sail changes (tactician Roberto Sorge, tailer Orestano Andrea, trimmer Flavia De Luca, mastman Renato Costs, and bowman Pietro Bianchi).

Elena Celeste
Photographs are by Giancarlo Capobianco, and more can be seen at the Halfton Class Italia website here.

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