02 Jun Adolfo Bastardo
The International 14 class has a series of esoteric races and traditions but the Adolfo Bastardo must be one of the odder ones. The race, which is held every year on Lake Garda the day before the Riva Cup, is named after a man who some Swiss 14 sailors had an argument about car parking with in the early 90s and the trophy is a bronze foot holding a cigar between its toes. In the same way as the America’s Cup, the rules are set by the previous winners. Though they announce the course in the Oca Bar at some point after midnight, not in a press conference. Unlike the America’s Cup however there is a deterrent against setting the rules too heavily in your own favour – the winners have to fill the trophy with Grappa and drink it. Perhaps a cheaper option for the Cup than lawyers….
This year Eike Ehrig and Jan Martin Luehrs set a two lap course with a gate start off Riva, a beat up the cliffs to a coloured flagpole then back to a leeward gate 20m off the Riva shore and repeat. The twist was that spinnakers were only allowed on one leg. However all the tactical talk about which run to use the spinnaker on turned out to be wasted as Wednesday bought heavy rain, a light northerly and no chance of a thermal breeze. The start was delayed by an hour and the course changed to a running gate start from Riva, round a ‘leeward canoe’ paddled by Jan Martin and Eike and back to the finish off Riva. The fact that the canoe would paddle upwind once one boat had been round compressed the fleet after the first leg.
After a very confusing gate start (made worse by the fact that German and UK sailors call opposite gybes ‘port gybe’) it was Douglas Pattison and Mark Tait who lead, having taken advantage of the removal of rule 42 and brought a paddle. Andy and Tom Partington found the steady breeze first and headed off to the middle of the lake. James Fox and John Blackburn lead another group trying to make the most of the puffs coming down the cliffs and at times looked good. By the canoe however it was Martin and Neale Jones who lead followed by the Partingtons and Dominic Van Essen and Simone Saccacni. The Partingtons went further left and put themselves into a windless hole. Tom Heywood and Ed Clay made the most of a leeward canoe that was now going to windward and some judicious pumping to get in touch with the Joneses and Dominic and Simo.
As the wind died approaching Riva however it was Douglas and Mark who looked best, again relying on the paddle. However the Joneses and Heywood and Clay found some pressure and it was them who crossed the line neck and neck followed by Douglas and Mark and Dominic and Simo. Unfortunately the ‘race committee’ had gone to get an ice cream so no one knew who had won. After much discussion last years winners ruled in favour of the Joneses as they had sailed round the canoe when it was further down the lake
The final tradition is the dinner in the Leon d’Oro where the waiting staff did a heroic job of putting up with about 60 sailors and families, and a foot full of Grappa. A special Grappa award went to Phil McDanell and Leith Shenstone who managed to sail into the leeward canoe, capsizing it and losing the race officers’ beer and flag pole – perhaps the sit in buoys at the America’s Cup need more thought.