New equipment strengthen strong aspirations

Wednesday, June 16, 2010, 23:13

by Wilfred Sultana

France in April, Italy and Holland in May, Germany in June and Poland in July. It’s a schedule which can easily be branded go, go, go. However, in this particular case the tune is sail, sail, sail – for here one is referring to the hectic yet exciting training and competitive programme of teamSeb&Ben in what has been labelled as the 49er Olympic campaign.

Between Delta Lloyd held in Medemblik Holland from the 26th and 30th May and the forthcoming Kiel Week, in Kiel Germany being staged from the 19th and 23rd of June, Sebastian Ripard and Benji Borg, spent a few days in Malta to attain two particular objectives; new equipment had been delivered in the first week of June which had to be sorted and secondly they planned to meet and announce their main sponsors so indispensable for their massive ambition – going for Gold at the Olympics.

In fact following a number of healthy meetings it was confirmed that EC English Language Centres and Yacht Help Ltd are the main sponsors of teamSeb&Ben campaign, with other major support being extended by Simonds Farsons Cisk plc through its beer brand, Cisk Excel.

The boat is sailing upwind with the sailors in a position known as ‘trapezing’. Here the crew, wearing harnesses, hook themselves into a wire attached to the mast in order to apply more leverage to the boat and keep more power in the sails. This is one of the main factors that make the 49er so difficult to handle but also so fast. (Photo: Kurt Arrigo)

The boat is sailing upwind with the sailors in a position known as ‘trapezing’. Here the crew, wearing harnesses, hook themselves into a wire attached to the mast in order to apply more leverage to the boat and keep more power in the sails. This is one of the main factors that make the 49er so difficult to handle but also so fast. (Photo: Kurt Arrigo)

“The boat we had been using was 7 years old and had absorbed an extra 10 kilos of water over the years. We feel that this newer, stiffer and lighter hull will help boost our results. At this level of racing small things make a massive difference”, remarked Sebastian Ripard.

 The next event for teamSeb&Ben is the Kiel Week, in Kiel, Germany (19-23 June).

“We don’t really have many expectations for Kiel as we are still testing the waters. However, we have pin pointed a couple of teams who did substantially better than us at the last regatta but which, with this new equipment, we now feel we have a chance to beat. These teams are BER 1108 (Bermuda) and CHI 146 (Chile)” pointed out Benji Borg.

Yet the European Championships being held at Gdynia in Poland (05-10 July) are undoubtedly the biggest test for the young Maltese sailors in their 2010 campaign which took them to five European racing arenas over four months.

So far some 80 – with more expected to come – 49ers teams from 24 countries have already signed up for the Gdynia European Championships. Teams made up of professional athletes who have been competing at top level for years.

“It won’t be an easy regatta considering we are the most inexperienced team in the 49er class. However, we’ve been progressing rapidly and are setting our sights on a top 40 finish which would be a great result at this stage. Ultimately we are hoping to place within the top 21 countries which is what we would need to do at the Olympic Qualifiers in December 2011, in order to be invited to the 2012 London Olympics”, affirmed Ripard.

Sebastian and Benji will next be in Malta between the 12th and 26th July where they plan to continue with their training and hopefully organise a regatta/fundraising event in Mellieha. Further to training and racing teamSeb&Ben are also keen to promote the 49er class to local sailors.





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