Galateia again at the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup
Thursday, September 7, 2017 6:13 PM
A singleton windward-leeward race for the Maxi 72s and Wallys was held on what for all the other classes was a layday at the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup in Porto Cervo. Two races were scheduled to make up for those lost earlier in the week, but, after the first was completed, the wind suddenly piped up to 28 knots causing PRO Peter Craig to suspend racing for the day.
Held for the world’s largest racing yachts, the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup is jointly organised by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda, this year celebrating its 50th anniversary, and the International Maxi Association, the body sanctioned by World Sailing to represent the Maxi classes.
Today’s one race was a trailblazer, showing off the strong wind and blazing sunshine for which the Costa Smeralda is famous.
Following her victory in yesterday’s second race, the new Wallycento Galateia blasted around the race track once again claiming both line honours and the win under IRC corrected time. She now leads the Wally class, 8 points ahead of the Wally 80 Nahita, with the Wally 77 Lyra a further point behind.
“It is surprising to us!” said a beaming David M. Leuschen, Galateia’s owner. “The boat is new. We raced half the season last year when the crew was new. We have improved because the crew co-ordination is better. We did a lot of work on the boat over the winter and we bought a new suit of North Sails, which we like a lot more.”
They have also been luckier. Last year, in their first outing at the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, Leuschen remembers they suffered a collision and a spinnaker forestay wrap. “We haven’t had anything like that happen this time, but we are probably due for it…”
Today’s race Leuschen said was “phenomenal”. They sailed the final downwind particularly well to add distance on the water between them and the Wally 107 Open Season of International Maxi Association President, Thomas Bscher. “We saw 23 knots a couple of times and over 20 pretty consistently.”
Second today, moving her up to third behind Nikata overall in the Wally class, was the Wally 77, Lyra. Navigator Will Best said of their race: “We have a good J3, so the boat is well balanced and we are quite confident upwind. But we are really quick downwind.” On the final downwind Lyra achieved a new top speed of 16 knots. “It was good fun. At start time the wind was 14 knots and we were nervous we were under the wrong jib. But when we finished we had 24-25.”
International Maxi Association member, Dieter Schön on Momo made it three wins in a row. The German team now leads the Rolex Maxi 72 World Championship by 4.75 points.
For the 72s, the wind was typically 17-22 knots from 270-290°. “It was much more complicated than yesterday,” advised Momo’s tactician Markus Wieser. “Out of the start suddenly there was less pressure on the left and the right began paying half way up, so the boat on the windward side could hold the whole fleet out.”
Momo pulled into the lead on the first downwind, but was rolled coming into the leeward gate by Dario Ferrari’s new Cannonball. Both boats rounded the port gate mark but Momo tacked and had pulled out a significant lead at the second top mark.
Weiser believed it was the right call to cancel today’s second race. “We had puffs of up to 28 knots - it was on the edge. It would have been fun, if you’d have survived!”
A boat to benefit from the usually unfavoured right today was Alex Schaerer’s Caol Ila R. This being her first Maxi 72 inshore event of 2017, the Swiss boat has been lagging at this year’s Rolex Maxi 72 World Championship. The crew was therefore delighted to lead at the top mark. “It shows that if you sail well the boat is still competitive against the new ones even in strong winds, when we are more optimised for lighter wind,” said Schaerer. Sadly this was not to last. Their A2 the spinnaker promptly blew up upon hoisting.
They were not alone in blowing up sails. Hap Fauth’s normally immaculate Maxi 72 Bella Mente ripped the top off her J3 four minutes into the first beat. Her crew carried out the speediest of jib changes, bareheaded. Despite this incident, they pulled up the fleet and at one point were up to second. “Everyone on the boat did a phenomenal job after the jib breakage to get us back into the race,” observed strategist Adrian Stead.
The Wallys also had their share of damage with the Wally 94 Sensei blowing up her kite as the wind filled in on the final run into the finish.
Tomorrow will be the penultimate day of racing at the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup and the Mistral wind is forecast to abate to 7-12 knots.
Tonight the Annual General Meeting of the International Maxi Association is taking place at the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda.