Organized by the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy, the J/70 European Championship was held September 4-9, 2023, with 48 teams competing. The crew from Clube Naval de Cascais, with Vasco Serpa at the helm, Diogo Machado Pinto, Hugo Rocha and Paulo Manso, finished second overall to win the European title. The American team of Douglas Rastello, Steve Hunt, Morgan Trubovich and John Wallace from Newport Harbor Yacht Club, were first overall.
Serpa was delighted to have finished in second place, especially with so few points separating second and 12th place. More races on the final day would have made it hard for the Portuguese to defend their position, and Serpa admitted the final hours of waiting had been nervous times before their European title was assured. He paid tribute to his crew, saying, “Last season we did OK, but we felt we had some deficiencies as we were still learning how to make the J/70 go fast. So, we shortened the learning curve and brought in some top sailors. Paolo finished fourth in last year’s Worlds with a Spanish crew, and Hugo [470 Olympic bronze medalist] is perhaps the best sailor in Portugal and works for North Sails. He has the technical knowledge, and he brings a winning mentality to the racecourse. It was very tough racing against a really hot fleet, so we’re very happy with the result. I raced Lasers back in the 1990s, went to the Olympics [seventh in Atlanta 1996], took a few years away from the sport and when I came back, I wanted to compete with the best. The J/70 is the class that gives me that possibility.”