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Cream rising to the top at the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup

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Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup
Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup

Going into the final day of competition at the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, organised by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda in conjunction with the International Maxi Association, the winners are firming up in some classes, but remain wide open in others. 

Today racing kicked off in a welcome 15 knot northerly, which subsequently dropped and became shifty. While the Wallys and Maxi 72s, the latter sailing their Rolex World Championship, completed two shorter coastal races off Porto Cervo, the remaining classes were sent off north around La Maddalena before heading south down ‘Bomb Alley’. Here, with the wind dying, their courses were shortened for a second day running. 

In the Rolex Maxi 72 World Championship, there was a new winner in the first race in Sir Peter Odgen’s Jethou. The jet black Maxi 72 went the right way up the first beat and then managed to hang on. “We didn’t make any mistakes and we got to the top mark first,” said Ogden. “That was key and if you can do that you can control the race.” 

Sailing on Jethou are America’s Cup legends from Team New Zealand-Alinghi, including tactician Brad Butterworth and uber-trimmers Warwick Fleury and Simon Daubney. Of their first win at this World Championship, Butterworth said: “In the first race we had a very good first beat and the boat was going fast enough to hold off the guys on the left. Once you get ahead it is hard to pass on these boats because of the physical size of them.” 

Sadly in the ultra-light second race they were unable to repeat this, as Ogden wryly observed: “We thought we’d go to the casino and go hard right, but the casino was bust basically! We were third around the top mark and we were all together and we decided to go into the shore and everyone went across the middle. When we met up, we were behind.”

After the first race Dieter Schön’s MOMO was just a quarter point behind Maxi 72 leader, Hap Fauth’s Bella Mente, but a victory for the American boat in today’s second and final race to MOMO’s fifth, has increased Bella Mente’s lead to four points going into the final day. 

“It was difficult - the first race was good,” said Schön. “The second in the beginning there was not a lot of breeze, but it was okay. For sure, if nothing goes wrong Bella Mente will win.”

In the Wallys, the biggest class competing at the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, today’s races were won by former International Maxi Association President Claus Peter Offen and his Wally 100, Y3K, and the Wally 80, Tango G. However while the latter is up to second place she will be hard pressed to displace present International Maxi Association President, Thomas Bscher, and his Wally 107, Open Season. Open Season’s winning streak finally came to an end today, posting a 2-8, but she is still seven points clear of Tango G. 

In the Supermaxis, today's race saw the first victory for Lord Laidlaw’s new Swan 115, Highland Fling. However Kim Schindelhauer's powerful and consistent 33m long Winwin posted a fourth today, leaving her in the lead, four points clear of Marco Vogele's Briand-designed Inoui. Between the two Js, sailing in the Supermaxi class, Velsheda dispatched Lionheart for a second day running. 

Also for a second day running, Mike Slade’s well-travelled Farr 100 Leopard 3 beat George David’s Rambler 88, the full bore Juan Kouyoumidjian design seeming not to like the light conditions off Costa Smeralda. 

Slade is sailing his first Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup in 12 years. “I thought it was time to go and see what went on in Porto Cervo! We’ve had the most exciting racing,” he said.

As to why Leopard has won the last two days, Slade observed: “Rambler is an 88 footer and we have more waterline length. They seem to need 12-14 knots to get their bow up and then they fly. We are probably quicker than them uphill and can hold them under kite in 7-8 knots.”

Of today’s racing Slade added: “We had a wonderful day. We were very lucky because we went right offshore and there was much more breeze there and we were half a mile ahead when we came together at the top.”

Sadly Leopard 3’s race was not incident-free as she was involved in a pre-start collision with Michael Cotter’s Southern Wind 94, Windfall. Going into the final day, whoever wins tomorrow between Leopard 3 and Rambler 88 will take home the prize. 

In the Maxi Racer-Cruiser Class Pier Luigi Loro Piana's My Song is looking strong with a five point lead over the Swan 80, Alpina. 

A second consecutive bullet for Carlo Alessandro Puri Negri’s Atalanta II, caused the Farr 70 to pull into the lead in the Mini Maxi Racing class today. Benoit de Froidmont’s Wally 60 Wallyῆo similarly scored a second consecutive bullet to move ahead in the Mini Maxi Racer-Cruiser class. 

According to Principal Race Officer Peter Craig the forecast for tomorrow’ final day is “10 knots - give or take two. We intend to go out and get a couple of windward-leewards in for the Maxi 72s and Wally and a good coastal race for the rest.”