On June 1, the American team of Mike Holt and Carl Smit won the 51-boat 5O5 Euro Cup Riva del Garda, the second leg of the Euro Cup series. Sailed at Fraglia della Vela Riva on Italy’s Lake Garda, the regatta came down to the last leg of the last race in a duel between Holt/Smit (USA) and Malcolm Higgins/Nick Johnson (AUS).
“By race time it was blowing a perfect 15-18, with a few shifts to make it interesting,” reported winning helmsman Mike Holt, from Santa Cruz. “At the top of the leaderboard it was tight, and all the way down there were private battles to be had to try and move up. Race 7 the fleet got away cleanly. Those that started at the committee boat and were quickest away on to port held the advantage, with Canadians Bob Tennant and Steve Bourdon getting their bow ahead, chased by a pack of boats. They were to hold their lead the whole way around, while some real drama played out behind them.
“The Australian team of Higgins and Johnson had pulled through the fleet to second, which would have put them in the lead with a race to go. However, they tried to fly their spinnaker across the short top leg, could not make it, and dropped to fourth, the British team of Clark and Clark taking advantage to score a second place.
“Going into the final race, it was a tie at the top. Essentially the winner of the Riva Cup would come down to who beat whom between the US team and the Aussies, with the tussle for third equally close between two British teams and the Canadians. The race got away cleanly, with a big split with the bulk of the fleet going for a committee-boat start and an early tack to the ‘cliffs’. A smaller — but this time smarter — group went for a pin-end port-tack start. We got this call right to lead at the top, followed by the British team of Andy Smith and Stewart Mears. Close behind them were Higgins and Johnson. The race was now on!
“By the first bottom mark Smith and Mears had moved into the lead, and, importantly, Higgins and Johnson rounded just ahead of us. The positions remained unchanged up the next beat, so it was all on the last run and short reach to the finish. We jibed out to the middle of the lake, while the leading two went to the eastern shore. When the three boats came back together, the places were the same but the gaps had closed.
“By the leeward mark Smith and Mears had done enough to close out with a race win, Higgins and Johnson jibed with the kite up, and we followed tight behind them but without the kite. No kite was the right call, and we sneaked across just ahead in second to take the win by 1 point. Could not have been any tighter. Yet again Riva delivered a fantastic event, great breeze, stunning scenery, food and racing. No wonder so many people keep coming back!”
The Euro Cup is a four-event series that takes place across France, Italy, Germany and the UK. A winner is determined at each event, as well as an overall series winner based on cumulative scores from three of the four regattas. See www.int505.org/2019-euro-cup/euro-cup-round-2-riva-del-garda-italy for more info and full results.