Shanghai Cup Launches Into Foiling Era
An historic milestone was reached at 1400 local time on Saturday October 28th, when the Huangpo River was shut down to commercial traffic for the first time in over 100 years for the resurrection of the Shanghai Cup. The Shanghai Yacht Club has resurrected this sailing competition last competed for on home waters in 1876 by inviting the foiling Nacra 17 into the heart of this great city to put on a showcase for sailing.
12 of the best teams from around the planet assembled to compete in the Bund area of the river, at the intersection of the financial and historic districts in front of thousands of curious future sailing fans.
Racing itself was a challenge, as an offshore typhoon tragged a brisk wind perpendicular to the river, making for unstable conditions as the winds swirled through hundreds of skyscrapers to provide power to the sailors.
Three races were held and while the fleet got foiling for a few fast bursts, racing was dominated by periods of picking through puffs and especially lulls, where the fleet would stop and restart throughout the races.
The first race concluded in the best conditions, with a lap long battle between two of the favorites. The Danish team of Lin Cenholt and CP Lubeck were in the lead but the Italian team of Rugerro Tita and Caterina Banti used every puff to put them under pressure up the beat and then split with them on the downwind. In a fascinating duel the two teams kept splitting and returning to center on the downwind before finally the Danes held the last puff through the line. To add insult to injury, 2016 Bronze medalist from Austria, Tom Zajac with his new crew Barbara Matz also squeeked through to relegate the Italians to third.
In the second race, Annette Vibourg and Matias Borreskov, also of Denmark, took the race after a dual with America’s Riley Gibbs and Luissa Chaffee. At the final windward mark, the breeze actually started coming in from behind and we saw Luissa, a college sailor employ some of those skills by going wing on wing to get inside overlap at the mark. In the end however, it was the gusts on the downwind that allowed the Danes to win the race, with the American’s in second.
The final race of the day saw the Brazilians get away with a great start, their third of the day. They just got passed right at the first windward mark by the Italians, who aggressively gybeset to stay in their lead making puff and escaped from the rest of the fleet. The Italians lead comfortably the rest of the way, focusing on sailing low angles on the downwind to stay in the puffs as long as possible, and were never challenged. Vibourg and Borreskov also managed to pass the Brazilians to claim second place, and the overnight lead, while the Brazilians fell to third.