GBR “’SPINNAKER TEAM” dominate Athens 2K
Spinnaker, the leading UK team racing team moved back onto central stage with an extraordinary performance in Athens. Racing in the Yacht Club of Greece’s superb fleet of Platu 25’s in the Saronic Gulf the team led by Skippers Littlejohn and Hebbert swept aside all opposition to take Athens trophy without a single loss.
As racing started it soon became clear that the Greek team led by Stratis Andreadis was going to be the team to beat. Their knowledge of the tricky wind patterns and their sheer boat speed meant that if you did not win the start then you were unlikely to win the race. Royal Cork were to be the first victims of these wind gods.
Spinnaker who had finished 2015 in fourth place behind the Dutch and Italians quickly set a new pace. Tom Hebbert and Sam Littlejohn both skippers in the UK’s British America’s Cup team soon proved unstoppable. No matter what the start pattern one of them quickly locked an opponent down allowing the other to romp free. Again and again their opponents struggled to break this deadly lock, but the well drilled UK crews could not be beaten in the game.
Finally it was Greece vs GBR… and it became a drag race….Greece suddenly seemed to have lost the edge, the Brits far less experienced in the boats just seemed to go faster and faster…it became equal and then team racing came to the fore. The final windward mark played to the Brits. Littlejohn in the lead set a perfect mark trap. Greece’s Jason Spanomanolis took the bait, and the game was over. Hebbert was soon in the lead, and with Spanomanolis spinning and Littlejohn in a good second.
All hands on deck to see the duel between the renegade YCCO and Yacht Club Costa Smeralda. Federica Sciuto, long a crew member with the formidable Italian team YCCS had joined with the top ranked skipper DJ Korpershoek to form YCCO. Signorini and Sodo of YCCS took an early lead, but DJ played the old trick of locking down allowing Sciuto to take the lead. A flurry of protests kept the game in question until the last seconds when the renegades took the honours.
In the meantime the Irish had regrouped handing defeat after defeat to their opponents, only Spinnaker was to escape the mauling. And so after 2 days of hard sailing it was a GBR IRL final.
With the breeze filling in Spinnaker with a slight weight advantage were going to be tough to beat. Race 1 and Hebbert and Littlejohn dominate the start… it’s a drag race and the Brits win by a country mile. Race 2 is a different story. Cudmore gains from a shift to hold Hebbert out at the start. But Hebbert is able to win the duel on the right while on the left Kingston is able to keep Littlejohn behind. Again and again the Irish defend brilliantly as Hebbert tries to release his team mate.
The Clock is not looking good… will this be decided on a count back tie break… then the final mark. Hebbert now in a firm first lines up for a big sweep…. Amazingly he catches both the Irish, drives then to the right to allow Littlejohn through to first. Now with Hebbert in danger Littlejohn secures the final zone and lines up for a do or die sweep, but a final burst of speed and Hebbert breaks away to give Spinnaker the trophy.
2K now moves to Italy for the next three events starting in Scarlino in Tuscany in April.