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Porto Cervo turns up the volume

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Porto Cervo turns up the volume
Porto Cervo turns up the volume

After a light start to the regatta yesterday, Mother Nature laid on challenging conditions for day two of the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup and the Rolex Maxi 72 World Championship, organised by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda in conjunction with the International Maxi Association. Racing took place in a lumpy sea and 14 knots of northeasterly wind, which built to 23-24 knots. 

The 40 competing yachts, ranging in size from the 66.7m ketch Hetairos down to 60 footers (18.30m), were sent off north from Porto Cervo on a 38 nautical mile anticlockwise lap of Arcipelago di La Maddalena, the Mini Maxi Racers and Maxi Racer-Cruisers sailing a shorter course before both fleets converged to the east of La Maddalena for a fast flat water reach back down inside the islands. 

In the 13 strong Wally class, once again it was the biggest boat, Thomas Bscher’s 32.48m Wally Open Season that came out on top, scoring her third bullet of the regatta and winningtoday by a substantial eight minutes 21 seconds under IRC corrected time. Her main rival, Sir Lindsay Owen Jones’ WallyCento, Magic Carpet Cubed, lost time struggling to drop her spinnaker at the end of the first run and was unable to recover to better than fifth place. This opened up today’s Wally podium to the Wally 94.3, Sensei, and Jean Charles Decaux’s Wally 77, J One. 

International Maxi Association President Claus Peter Offen’s Wally 100 Y3K narrowly missed out on third, as Offen recounted: “Days like today are great days off Porto Cervo. It was hard work, and in the end we finished four seconds off third - nothing after three hours of sailing.” 

There was drama in the Rolex Maxi 72 World Championship, where, once again, it was Roberto Tomasini Grinover’s Robertissima III that won the pin end at the start to lead around the top mark. However the Italian 72 ended up relinquishing the lead to past World Champion, American Hap Fauth’s Bella Mente. 

“We had a very good leeward mark rounding,” explained Bella Mente tactician Terry Hutchinson. “They went around the bottom mark with their main flapping whereas we came around and Hap did a nice trajectory turn up onto the breeze and we established an inside lane pretty nicely. From there we were going a little bit better, but it is a game of inches and the subtleties of everything,” although Hutchinson acknowledges they were fast reaching north of Maddalena and Caprera under jib top and genoa staysail.  

Sadly it was here that disaster struck Alexander Schaerer’s Caol Ila R when her mast broke between the second and third spreaders. At the time, the Swiss Maxi 72, which is the defending World Champion here (previously she was Andres Soriano’s Alegre) was sailing under full main, genoa staysail and jib. 

“It fell back and to leeward,” recounted owner’s representative Nathan Ellis. “Fortunately everyone was out of the way up on the high side and no one was injured.” The breakage destroyed the mainsail, broke the boom in half and left the mast bent in two, its top half dangling precariously.  “It was quite scary in the seaway,” admitted Ellis. As to why the breakage occurred, Ellis said they won’t know until they’d assessed all the data.

This incident marks the end of the Caol Ila R Maxi 72’s season, although Schaerer has his former Caol Ila R, a Mills 68, in nearby Olbia, where she is for sale. “Alex did make a joke that we should get it ready for tomorrow,” said Ellis. 

Bella Mente was not without her own issues finishing with a hole in her deck on the starboard side caused by the outboard genoa lead. “It made a big bang,” as Terry Hutchinson observed. 

Among the Super Maxis, there has been a change in lead with Vittorio Moretti’s Viriella now out in front, tied on points with Marco Vogele’s 33m, Inoui. 

Viriella has been racing at the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup regularly since she was launched 14 years ago and is a past class winner. According to Moretti, the boat performs especially well in conditions like the fleet enjoyed today: “I’ve been coming here to race in the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup for 26 years. I think this [the Costa Smeralda] is the best spot to race in terms of the wind conditions, the beautiful sea and because the YCCS is a very good race organiser.”

On board Viriella, Moretti sails with friends, including several are professionals such as former Italian America’s Cup helmsman Mauro Pelaschier and Bruno Finzi.

In the Mini Maxi Racing class, Maximilian Klink's Botin 65 CARO came out on top today to take the lead overall, while in the combined Mini Maxi Racer-Cruiser and Spirit of Tradition classes, Riccardo de Michele's Vallicelli 80, H20, won today. She is now ahead, by a point, of Guiseppi Puttini’s Swan 65 Shirlaf, this year’s winner of the International Maxi Association’s Volcano Race. Trailing the two Italian boats is the French Swan 601 @ROBAS, which finished second today.

@ROBAS’s owner Gérard Logel said he enjoyed today’s racing, although his boat prefers the wind fresher still and is geared up more for windward-leeward inshores than coastal racing. @ROBAS has an active annual sailing program including the Giraglia Rolex Cup and has been a regular competitor at the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup. “This event is nice because you get to meet enthusiastic owners of boats of a similar size. For me it is fantastic,” said Logel, who has leading French match racer Marc Bouet calling tactics for him.

As is the case with many of the owners competing, Logel is a member of the International Maxi Association. Tomorrow IMA members get to attend their dinner at the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda. 

Racing resumes tomorrow at 1130 with similar conditions forecast.