Black Seal wins first ClubSwan 36 European Championship

  • Consistent sailing the key to success for Richard Thompson’s team
  • Close competition produced a different leader every day
  • ACI Marina Split the venue for Swan Croatia Challenge in 2023 with 15 yachts already confirmed


After an enthralling high-intensity regatta which saw the leaderboard in constant movement, the first ever ClubSwan 36 European Championship, organised with ACI Marina and YC Labud, was won by Richard Thompson’s impressively consistent Black Seal team.

Racing in largely idyllic conditions off the historic Croatian port of Split, the Anglo-Italian crew – which included Black Seal team regulars Stefano Cherin and Jeremy Elliott – took the title without winning a race.

Instead a relentless focus on steady sailing, and avoiding racing penalties which handicapped a number of their competitors, saw the British-flagged one-design claim victory six points clear of Giangiacomo Serena di Lapigio’s G Spot and Lorenzo Mondo’s Farstar, both of whom had led the 12-strong fleet earlier in the event.

“It was a great win for us, though a bit of a surprise,” said Thompson, a member of the Guernsey Yacht Club in the Channel Islands.

“Winning is not the most important thing though, for me it has been about the growth of the class and having some great sailing in beautiful locations.

“We have had a great week in Croatia which has proven to be a great venue, and it’s been fantastic to race for the first time with 12 boats in the fleet, that was very exciting for us.”

And he added: “I can’t wait until next season – it’s going to be a very frustrating winter!”

G Spot had made the early running at the championship, which was based at the ACI Marina in Split, topping the table at the end of the first day with Black Seal close behind in second place.

It was all change the following day as G Spot was penalised for a starting line infringement – the first of four yachts to slip-up – and Farstar took her turn at the top after taking her second race win of the regatta. Meanwhile Nikolai Burkart’s Goddess posted the best results of the day, 2-1, and Black Seal stayed poised in second.

The third day of racing saw G Spot fight back with another race victory to edge ahead of Farstar. Meanwhile the ever-steady Black Seal moved to the top of the table, and with racing cancelled on the final day she claimed the title, repeating her success after winning the Swan Sardinia Challenge in June.

Goddess finished the championship in fourth place a point ahead of Edoardo Ferragamo’s Cuordileone, which was in turn a further point ahead of Luka Sangulin’s Lucky, the leading local Croatian yacht in a closely contested mid-fleet battle.

Speaking at one of the widely acclaimed social events, the Crew Dinner Party in the Cellars of Diocletian’s Palace, an ancient palace built for the Roman emperor, Ferragamo said: “It’s a great pleasure for me and for my team and for Nautor Swan to be here in Croatia. We are extremely thankful to ACI Marina and their whole team for believing in Swan and believing in the ClubSwan 36.

“It could not be more perfect that we should have the first European Championship in Croatia, and in the beautiful city of Split. It has been super-exciting to have been here with 12 boats, the biggest fleet so far.”

And he added that the first regatta on the 2023 ClubSwan Racing calendar would be the Swan Croatia Challenge from April 25-29 with Split again the host. The growing ClubSwan 36 class already has 15 confirmed entries to the season opener.

Split’s success at hosting the inaugural ClubSwan 36 European Championship was also highlighted by Federico Michetti, Head of Sports Activities at ClubSwan Racing.

“Nautor Swan and ClubSwan Racing are extremely thankful to ACI Marina for trusting in the ClubSwan 36 project from the very beginning, and for supporting and organising a stunning European Championship.”

And he added: “The Croatian coast is magnificent, and the organisation and professionalism shown by both ACI Marina and ACI Sail is second to none. We can’t wait to return here in April next year for the opening event of the 2023 ClubSwan Racing season.”

“The whole season has been inspiring and enjoyable, with great racing, great competition, and great camaraderie ashore at every event – so here’s to next year!”

With the focus now turning to the Swan Croatia Challenge, hosts ACI are already thinking ahead.

“ACI have some special ideas for next year which we have already started working on,” said Ivan Kljaković Gašpić, project manager for ACI Sail, which is a subsidiary of ACI Marina, one of the Mediterranean’s largest marina chains.

“Split is one of the most attractive places in the Mediterranean with some of the most tactically challenging sailing in the most picturesque of surroundings.

“I’m delighted that so many teams accepted our invitation to the first edition of the ClubSwan 36 Europeans. It was a great combination of a fantastic party, excellent sailing, weather and breeze, and a fabulous atmosphere in the group here.”

The sentiment was echoed by Kristijan Pavić, President of the board of ACI d.d.: “It has been a long-time dream come true. ACI would like to thank all of the teams and especially the family Ferragamo and Nautor Swan that came to Croatia and gave us support for this European Championship. We all enjoyed beautiful weather, gentlemanly races, and good friendship in Split. See you next year in April for the start of the new ClubSwan Racing season.”

Click here for race results and further information

Partners of the ClubSwan Racing 2022 One Design circuit are: RolexBMWRandstadSalvatore FerragamoSeaseFerrari Trento, BanorM&C SaatchiNorth SailsQuantum Sails, Gottifredi MaffioliGarminB&GLavazzaMarevivo. Regatta management was supported by electric marks by Mark Set Bot.