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Bosphorus Cup Overall: Three races beneath Hagia Sophia on the final day

by James Boyd / Sailing Intelligence 24 Sep 22:12 UTC 21-24 September 2023
Istanbul's famous Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia preside over the race course - Bosphorus Cup 2023 © Sailing Energy / Bosphorus Cup

The ultimate day of competition at the Bosphorus Cup looked set to be light for the 80 competing yachts. However through a combination of local knowledge from event organiser Orhan Gorbon and smart race management from PRO Nino Shmueli, the race area was shifted to the European side of the Sea of Marmara, off Istanbul's suburb of Zeytinburnu. Here the wind was stronger, ultimately building to almost 20 knots as the afternoon wore on. After starting on time, the race schedule was recovered with three windward-leewards sailed for the bigger IRC classes and two coastal courses for the smaller slower yachts.

Making the most of Istanbul's magnificent historic landmarks, the weather mark today was located a stone's throw from the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia. Being close to the southern exit of the Bosphorus meant there was still at times up to four knots of foul tide on the upwinds, but also the potential for beneficial back eddies when playing the shore. The tide being with the wind and the course so close to the shore meant the races were sailed in flat water.

Today's races followed Saturday's event highlight, the famous passage up and down the Bosphorus, Istanbul's ancient strait that provides a maritime corridor from the Black Sea into the Sea of Marmara and then into the Mediterranean.

They may have scored a lowly 11th in yesterday's Bosphorus race, but today Baris Koncagül's 14m long Christian Stimson-designed Fenerbahçe 1 couldn't put a foot wrong. She scored three straight bullets to win not only IRC One but also, coming out on top in IRC overall, the Bosphorus Cup itself - the finest of results for a well-sailed 23-year-old cold-moulded yacht, ahead of much newer competition.

"I am very happy," said Koncagül. "Obviously we enter every race to win, but after the race we had yesterday which as a bit harsh for us, today, to grab the trophy at the last minute feels very good." In fact this victory comes off a very successful year for Fenerbahçe 1 (originally launched as Orient Express IV for Bülent Atabay) having won numerous events. Koncagül has owned the boat for more than a decade, but despite being berthed locally, this is only his third participation in the Bosphorus Cup.

"Yesterday was extremely tough for us," Koncagül continued, "so today we were extremely motivated. We met early to do some training and that paid off. The team performed very well."

There were further consistent podium finishes today for Levent Peynirci's Farr 40 Setur Marinas Cheese (Peynirci means 'cheesemonger' in Turkish and his company's four entries all finished well this year). Following their second place in yesterday's Bosphorus race they seemed in a good position to win IRC 0, but the top prize went to Zeynep and Ayse Atabay's Farr 55 Orient Express VI, which posted a 2-2-1 today discarding their result in yesterday's race.

Having won the race in the Bosphorus in IRC 2, the Bosphorus Cup's defending champion, 2022 winner Yasar Doga Aribas's A-35 Coca Cola Içecek - DAS had another exemplary regatta posting a near perfect scoreline. Her sole blemish was a second in today's first race. In her class, she finished ahead of another A-35, Corendon Cheese skippered by Melis Baykan.

In IRC Three Cenk Tekkaya's A-35 Nissan-Zacapa scored a 1-2 in today's coastal courses, continuing on from his class win in yesterday's Bosphorus Race. This was the second consecutive year the Nissan-Zacapa team has won its class. Mainsheet trimmer Kursad Ekmekci commented of their performance today: "The races were very challenging and the conditions were tough - the whole game was about the current and the start because the wind was quite stable. Everyone did their jobs very well."

Like the overall winner, Fenerbahçe 1, Nissan-Zacapa is a local boat and supremely successful - over the course of the last eight years she has accumulated more than 100 trophies.

IRC Four was won with straight bullets by Sinan Sumer's Gorbon 26 RC Alize Zig Zig while two seconds today was enough to gain Sancan Çokacar's Dufour 34 My Sailing Team Puff the Cruiser Class win, racing for a second year with a crew from Israel. In addition to being the sole team from Anatolia competing, Esra Kahraman's crew on the Azuree 33 Denizanalari/Jellyfish also picked up a prize for being the event's first all-female crew (in fact several boats competing had a near equal mix of men and women in their crew).

For this year the Bosphorus Cup enjoyed a number of new developments, including a regatta for young Optimist sailors and a new PRO, Nino Shmueli, who comes with past experience from the Olympic Games down.

"It has been fantastic," commented race organiser Orhan Gorbon following tonight's prize-giving in the Setur Kalamis Marina. "Race management has always been our weak point, but we have improved that not just with Nino but also with the Turkish team. Once you improve race management you improve the event. The whole media and marketing side, this year went very well. We are now attracting an increasingly international fleet with top sailors from Bulgaria, Rumania, Turkey and elsewhere. Istanbul deserves a big international sailing event like this."

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