Garda Grand Slam underway

The SB20 class will enjoy the first of three spectacular Italian events taking place this summer, as they compete at stunning Lake Garda for the Torbole Grand Slam this weekend (May 22-24 2015), in preparation for this year’s World Championships.

The Italian Grand Slam is the first of three major competitions that the international sportsboat class is competing for at this renowned venue. It is followed by the Italian Nationals from June 19-21, before the 2015 World Championships will also be held in Torbole, from July 4-10.

Around 35 boats are racing at this weekend’s Torbole Grand Slam. The highly competitive entry list includes former Olympic sailor Rodion Luka from the Ukraine, previous SB20 World Champion Jerry Hill (GBR), who won his title at the same venue in 2010, and Ian Ainslie from South Africa, who was runner up the same year. Other teams have travelled from right across Britain, Switzerland, Russia, France and Germany to the venue, whilst the many Italian teams could potentially hold a home advantage.

New for the Torbole Grand Slam, the leading teams in each category will fly a branded spinnaker during the event, ‘Tour de France yellow jersey’ style. The overall leader will fly a SportsBoat World spinnaker, while the top Women’s team carries a spinnaker sponsored by skincare company Clarins, and the first Masters team a spinnaker by sailmakers Hyde.

The SB20 teams racing this weekend will enjoy the lake’s flat water and strong afternoon breezes, creating ideal conditions for fast, fun competition in this highly competitive one-design fleet. Eight races are scheduled over three days of racing, which will give many teams some much sought-after practice at the World Championship venue, and some early form indications of crews to watch in July.

The Italian Grand Slam comes hot on the heels of the first European Grand Slam event of the season in Hyères, which took place earlier this month (May 1-3) and saw 25 teams from eight nations competing. The winner in Hyères was ultimately decided on ‘countback’ after the top two teams tied on equal points, such is the level of competition in this equally matched class. Hyères winner John Pollard and his ‘Xcellent’ team will also be hoping to maintain their winning streak at Torbole.

Further Grand Slams will take place at Cowes on the Isle of Wight in August, and Cascais, Portugal in September, for the 20-foot keelboat class. With over 60 boats already entered for the World Championships – including entries from as far afield as Australia – organisers are confident of a 100-plus fleet for the season highlight, also hosted by the Circolo Vela Torbole.

Follow results here

Torbole3_052 copy