After an enthralling high-intensity regatta which saw the leaderboard in constant movement, the first ever ClubSwan 36 European Championship, hosted by ACI and ACI Sail, was won by Richard Thompson’s impressively consistent Black Seal team.
Racing in idyllic conditions
Racing in largely idyllic conditions of the historic Croatian port of Split, the Anglo-Italian crew – which included Black Seal team regulars Stefano Cherin and Jeremy Elliott – took the title without winning a race.
Instead a relentless focus on steady sailing, and avoiding racing penalties which handicapped a number of their competitors, saw the British-flagged one-design claim victory six points clear of Giangiacomo Serena di Lapigio’s G Spot and Lorenzo Mondo’s Farstar, both of whom had led the 12-strong fleet earlier in the event.
“It was a great win for us, though a bit of a surprise,” said Thompson, a member of the Guernsey Yacht Club in the Channel Islands.
“Winning is not the most important thing though, for me it has been about the growth of the class and having some great sailing in beautiful locations.
Great week in Croatia
“We have had a great week in Croatia which has proven to be a great venue, and it’s been fantastic to race for the first time with 12 boats in the fleet, that was very exciting for us.”
And he added: “I can’t wait until next season – it’s going to be a very frustrating winter!”
G Spot had made the early running at the championship, which was based at the ACI Marina in Split, topping the table at the end of the first day with Black Seal close behind in second place.
It was all changed the following day as G Spot was penalised for a starting line infringement – the first of four yachts to slip up – and Farstar took her turn at the top after taking her second race win of the regatta. Meanwhile, Nikolai Burkart’s Goddess posted the best results of the day, 2-1, and Black Seal stayed poised in second.
The third day of racing saw G Spot fight back with another race victory to edge ahead of Farstar. Meanwhile, the ever-steady Black Seal moved to the top of the table, and with racing cancelled on the final day she claimed the title, repeating her success after winning the Swan Sardinia Challenge in June.
Goddess finished the championship in fourth place a point ahead of Edoardo Ferragamo’s Cuordileone, which was, in turn, a further point ahead of Luka Sangulin’s Lucky, the leading local Croatian yacht in a closely contested mid-fleet battle.
The perfect sailing area near ACI marina Split
ACI marina Split offers a glorious view of Split and its ancient centre and nearby Yacht Club Labud, which has a sailing tradition of almost 100 years. The sailing area in Split has several convenient features, firstly it is very close to the harbour, second, it is a very sheltered area by the group of islands so the waters are pretty flat and waves are induced by local winds and create chop that makes steering for owners quite simple. 12 ClubSwan’s 36 had 3 days of beautiful sunshine and sea breeze although it is late summer. The race committee was well-prepared, organized and in perfect harmony with the fleet. Time spent on the water was extremely effective and there was no waiting time except for the short preparations for the racing teams.
Largest ever gathering of ClubSwan 36s
Speaking at one of the widely acclaimed social events, the Crew Dinner Party in the Cellars of Diocletian’s Palace, an ancient palace built for the Roman emperor, Ferragamo said: “It’s a great pleasure for me and my team and for Nautor Swan to be here in Croatia. We are extremely thankful to ACI Marina and their whole team for believing in Swan and believing in the ClubSwan 36.
“It could not be more perfect that we should have the first European Championship in Croatia, and the beautiful city of Split. It has been super-exciting to have been here with 12 boats, the biggest fleet so far.”
And he added that the first regatta on the 2023 ClubSwan Racing calendar would be the Swan Croatia Challenge from April 25-29 with Split again as the host. The growing ClubSwan 36 class already has 15 confirmed entries to the season opener.
The opening event of the 2023 ClubSwan Racing season
Split’s success at hosting the inaugural ClubSwan 36 European Championship was also highlighted by Federico Michetti, Head of Sports Activities at ClubSwan Racing.
“Nautor’s Swan and ClubSwan Racing are extremely thankful to ACI Marina for trusting in the ClubSwan 36 project from the very beginning, and for supporting and organising a stunning European Championship.”
And he added: “The Croatian coast is magnificent, and the organisation and professionalism shown by both ACI Marina and ACI Sail is second to none. We can’t wait to return here in April next year for the opening event of the 2023 ClubSwan Racing season.”
„The whole season has been inspiring and enjoyable, with great racing, great competition, and great camaraderie ashore at every event – so here’s to next year!”
Swan Croatia Challenge
With the focus now turning to the Swan Croatia Challenge, hosts ACI are already thinking ahead.
“ACI has some special ideas for next year which we have already started working on,” said Ivan Kljaković Gašpić, project manager for ACI Sail, which is a subsidiary of ACI Marina, one of the Mediterranean’s largest marina chains.
“Split is one of the most attractive places in the Mediterranean with some of the most tactically challenging sailing in the most picturesque of surroundings.
“I’m delighted that so many teams accepted our invitation to the first edition of the ClubSwan 36 Europeans. It was a great combination of a fantastic party, excellent sailing, weather and breeze, and a fabulous atmosphere in the group here.”
A long-time dream come true
The sentiment was echoed by Kristijan Pavić, President of the board of ACI d.d.: “It has been a long-time dream come true. ACI would like to thank all of the teams and especially the family Ferragamo and Nautor Swan that came to Croatia and gave us support for this European Championship. We all enjoyed beautiful weather, gentlemanly races, and good friendship in Split. See you next year in April for the start of the new ClubSwan Racing season.”
ACI Sail was created to provide a world-class sailing experience for sailors from all backgrounds. In collaboration with Nautor’s Swan, the unique ACI Sail ClubSwan 36 Training Centre was set up to deliver on that vision.
Photo & video: Studio Borlenghi; Photo: Zaklada Vaša Pošta