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Charlie Lavarello seals tight 2021 Kings Cup win

This win is Charlie Lavarello’s seventh championship in eight years.
Hamish Risso is runner up in both the Kings Cup and Ocean Race Cups
Pablo Villar in Emendek won the final race of the Kings Cup to also take the Ocean Race Cup

The start of the second race of the Ocean Race Cup, and last race of the 2021 Kings Cup, was brought forward to midday in order to make the most of the expected wind conditions, although in the end the boats had to wait slightly to allow the Easterly wind to come in. The air was full of expectation as the boats waited around the club with all the talk centered around the two main championship hopefuls – Charlie Lavarello and Hamish Risso – and what each one required to take the 2021 crown. In summary it was easy, Hamish had to win the race and ensure Charlie came outside the top three or put another way, Charlie either had to just ensure Hamish didn’t win or finish in the top three himself to take the championship.

With a decent Easterly eventually filling in, it was decided to set the race on a slightly longer course befitting the “Ocean Race” tag between a buoy at Western Beach and the “Recalada” buoy off the port of Algeciras with a further two laps of the usual course up to the RAF mark.

As was to be expected, the start was a tense affair but it was soon clear that Hamish had got the better start as the boats headed towards the northern end of the course. With the boats below him tacking back to the South, Hamish took the opportunity to tack with them and in the process was able to make more ground on the two boats north of him – namely Charlie Lavarello and Pablo Villar (once again deputising for the absent John Bassadone) – and take a commanding lead over the remainder of the fleet to put himself in that winning position that he desperately needed.

On the remainder of the beat up to Western Beach, Hamish managed to increase his lead further and round the mark with a comfortable lead ahead of the chasing pack which included Pablo Villar in second, Nick Cruz in third and Charlie Lavarello in fourth. Although this was the perfect situation for Hamish and just what he needed to take his maiden Kings Cup, the race had just started and there was a long way to go to the finish line meaning that no one could rest on their laurels.

As the boats headed downwind towards Algeciras, Hamish managed to hold on to his sizeable lead whilst behind him the rest of the fleet all bunched up and battled for the next five or six kilometres to try and get the upper hand whilst at the same time trying to cope with the stronger Easterly winds which had suddenly appeared.

On reaching the Recalada buoy Hamish decided to tack off to the North in search of the stronger winds and reduced tides and this manoeuvre was also replicated by Pablo Villar, Charlie Lavarello and Charlie Stagnetto when they got to the same mark. As they headed north it was soon clear that the stronger winds had Hamish (who was missing one crew member) at a disadvantage and the following boats soon started to turn a comfortable lead into a very precarious one with Charlie Lavarello also managing to leap frog Pablo and settle into second place.

As the leading boats neared the refinery at Palmones, Hamish tacked below the two chasing boats who had now caught him with Pablo Villar staying slightly further north, Charlie Lavarello somewhere in the middle and Hamish furthest south of the three. With the boats getting closer to the Spanish mole it was soon clear that there was slightly more wind in the north and soon Pablo started pointing higher and sailing faster than Charlie Lavarello whilst Charlie did the same to Hamish putting them all level for a minute or two.

A puff of south then gave Hamish some hope as the other two boats fell onto his position but his relief was short lived as the north returned to put Pablo first, Charlie second and Hamish third on the way down to the third mark. There were no further changes on this leg, and the boats rounded it in these positions very close to each other and by this stage a good 300m ahead of both 4th place and the rest of the fleet. Great news for Charlie Lavarello, agony for Hamish.

On the subsequent run down to the RAF, Pablo went further north than Hamish and Charlie and this resulted in the positions changing once more with Charlie just managing to get water on Hamish and round in first place with Hamish right behind him in second and Pablo just on the outside in third.

Charlie Lavarello and Pablo both decided to head south at the RAF mark whilst Hamish – desperate to regain the lead – tacked back to the north which meant that Charlie and Pablo were forced to do the same to protect their positions.

Despite the attempts of both Hamish and Pablo, Charlie Lavarello managed to sail an excellent second beat and as a result was able to open up a commanding lead over the both Hamish and Pablo who once again rounded the buoy at Western Beach together but a good 50m behind Charlie.

As this stage, the Championship race was all but over, because not only was Hamish not winning the race, but Charlie was in first place and there was no risk at all of the boats in 4th place catching him. However, sailing is a strange game and one that is sometimes determined as much by luck and the conditions as it is by skill and as Charlie headed to the RAF mark for the last time the wind started to die on him giving Hamish and Pablo not only the opportunity to reduce his lead but even sail past him and force him back into third.

Worse still for Charlie Lavarello was the fact that the chasing fleet – headed by Charlie Stagnetto and Nick Cruz – were approaching with wind and as a result they were quickly closing in on the leading threesome causing him some concern as he quickly gybed in an attempt to stay in touch with Hamish.

However, the luck was not going to be so kind to Hamish either and as he battled with the rapidly changing conditions, and the forced gybes, Charlie just managed to find a way past him to round the RAF in second place just behind Pablo and just a metre or two ahead of Hamish. Behind Hamish, Charlie Stagnetto had also caught up completely and he managed to round just a few metres behind Hamish but just ahead of the rapidly approaching Nick Cruz.

On rounding the mark in first place, Pablo made the sensible decision to tack off to the north with Charlie Stagnetto and Charlie Lavarello following him whilst Hamish tried to stay out in the south a bit longer in the hope – but not expectation – of a few kind southerly puffs. For a second it looked good for Hamish as he started to point better and gain some speed but Lavarello saw that and quickly tacked across to cover the danger whilst Pablo and Charlie Stagnetto continued further into the more favourable north.

As Hamish and Charlie continued their personal battle with a prolonged tacking duel, Pablo and Charlie Stagnetto got away in the north and these positions did not change for the remainder of the last beat with Pablo taking the winning gun and giving Charlie Lavarello the championship whilst at the same time putting an end to Hamish’s Kings Cup hopes for another year.

This win also gave Pablo the Ocean Race Cup with Hamish having to settle for the runners up position for this cup as well.

Overall, the leading boats can look back on the 2021 Kings Cup with a mixture of pride and regret at how close it all was between them for the whole season with a few metres splitting the field and minor decisions over the course of a season being the difference between success and failure, joy and agony.

The season has also been and extremely successful one with new crews like John Bassadone and his team on Emendek being competitive throughout and setting the bar high for all competitors with their professional standards and impressive crew work.

The Tuesday races have also gone from strength to strength and have resulted in record number of participants and this is something the organizer hope to continuing promoting further next year when the season restarts in early May 2022.

Till then, we hope you have enjoyed these articles and look forward to reporting on some more exciting sailing next year.

Ocean Race 2

Pablo Villar in Emendek (Crew German Panei)
Charlie Stagnetto in Fairdawn
Charlie Lavarello in Nemesis

Ocean Race series

Pablo Villar in Emendek (Crew German Panei) – 3 points
Hamish Risso in Fencer – 5 points
Charlie Lavarello in Nemesis – 6 points

Rogers Cup – most wins in the season

Charlie Lavarello in Nemesis – 6 wins (out of 19 races)
Hamish Risso in Fencer – 5 wins
John Bassadone & team in Emendek – 4 wins

Kings Cup 2021

Charlie Lavarello in Nemesis (Crew John Armstrong & Dhiraj Nagrani) – 27 points
Hamish Risso in Fencer – 30 points
John Bassadone & team in Emendek – 30 points

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