Loro Piana Superyacht Regatta 2017: A Tale of Two Crews
Thursday, June 1, 2017 11:56 PM
Porto Cervo, 1st June 2017. Sardinia's glorious Costa Smeralda and the beautiful La Maddalena archipelago were at their late spring best for the second coastal race of the Loro Piana Superyacht Regatta 2017 which is organised by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda in collaboration with Boat International Media and the Title Sponsor Loro Piana.
While the Dubois designed 38m Escapade won the Superyacht class, the Wally 80.6 Nahita emerged victorious from a fiercely contested battle between the five Wally yachts between 77 and 81 feet which race each other almost boat for boat to win the ten boat division overall by 49 seconds after just on three hours of racing.
After they were rescored to second subsequent to Race 1, the Escapade crew let their performance speak for them and won by 1min and 1 sec on corrected time over Ribelle, the new 33m McKeon design.
The two teams share the same three points tally after two races. Nahita, which won the first Wally regatta of the season in Palma earlier this month, now tops the Wally division overall.
While the core of the Escapade crew are New Zealand yachting industry professionals who were involved when the Dubois sloop was built in 2014 at Fitzroy Yachts, the Nahita core team under Croatia's Olympic sailing heroes Sime Fantela and Igor Marenic, are a tight knit group of Olympic sailing friends mainly from Zadar who have represented their country at Olympic level in the 49er and the Star as well as the 470 in which Fantela and Marenic delivered their nation's first Olympic sailing gold medal in Rio last year.
The southerly breeze produced sparkling racing conditions for the seven Superyachts and ten Wally Class yachts which were sent on the same, classic 29 nautical miles passage anti clockwise around La Maddalena island. After a short two miles upwind leg with the breeze around 13-14kts followed by short two sail reach, spinnakers were set for the long, fast downwind run in the strengthening breeze outside of the islands of Caprera and La Maddalena. The transition around the northwest of the island was, as ever, a telling test of sail selection, timing and crew work in the brisk breeze.
All the way through the fleets exciting duels raged. In 20kts of breeze there was little time for the crews to fully appreciate the spectacular scenery, the spring colours on the islands at their most vivid. In the battle of the giants Magic Carpet Cubed and Open Season lead the charge with the blue hulled Magic Carpet prevailing, crossing the finish just 17 seconds ahead of Open Season, but both dropped on corrected time to sixth and eighth, behind the five 77 to 81 footers. Similarly the spectacular duel between two times regatta winners Wally Suadade and Pier Luigi Loro Piana's new My Song was only decided on the last stretch of the long beat back, the Italian crew finally getting ahead at the entrance of the Passo delle Bisce. With Bouwe Bekking calling tactics Saudade crossed the line 49 seconds after My Song, to take third on corrected time.
So too it was only in the final few miles that Nahita really nailed down their victory. They were pressed all the way by the slightly smaller Lyra, which has Andy Horton sailing as tactician.
"We were close to making a mistake with our sail choices before the race." Sime Fantela reported, " We had a really clear start off the line away from the big boats. The downwind was really tricky for us because the wind was filling in from behind and then dropping, filling in from behind and then dropping and we always seemed to be on that edge. But the last corner of the downwind was really close with four boats almost overlapped with each other, we had a real close fight and had our nose in front as we came into the upwind. That really is our forte, upwind. We were following the Wally APP and could see we were fourth at the last turn and we got away on the last upwind."
"Friendship is at the heart of this crew. We have 13 Croatians who have been friends since we were small and all sailed together. It is a really strong, confident team." Smiled the Nahita owner, " We have our Star representatives from London, " Fantela continues "Two 49er teams, and some older guys from big boats, mostly from Zadar where we grew up together."
Christophe Albin, owner of the victorious Superyacht Escapade commented,
"We had to prove that it is not the rules but the performance of the crew which makes us win, and so we did that today."
"Partly it is also down to drinking champagne after racing each day. That, for sure, lightens the boat a little more each day!" he joked, explaining their success by saying, " I think for sure we go better when it is windy, but the performance of our crew is primordial."
Racing continues Friday with a third coastal race previewed to start 1130hrs.