Today’s challenging coastal race in the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup showed the Costa Smeralda at its very best, with some high-speed racing for the 40 yachts around the archipelago of La Maddalena. Out in front of the five racing divisions was Jim Clark and Kristy Hinze Clark’s 100-footer, Comanche, which was first back to Porto Cervo after tearing around the 38 nautical mile course in 2 hours, 34 minutes and 27 seconds. Again, the six contenders in the Maxi 72 class enjoyed some incredibly close racing and some high-speed action through the islands. After two days and three races, the battle for the Rolex Maxi 72 World Championship remains as tight as ever.
This morning, the afterguards of the six yachts competing in the Rolex Maxi 72 World Championship were deep in discussion about which head sails to choose for the race. A good selection could bring a vital edge on the long reaching legs, a poor choice could leave you lagging behind. After a first day which Bella Mente’s tactician, Terry Hutchinson, pithily summed up as ‘painful’, Hap Fauth’s crew were keen to make amends and were relishing the prospect of a windy offshore contest.
The strong breeze duly arrived, blowing between 16-22 knots, and Bella Mente pulled into the lead by the second turning mark. “We had a jib top on the long close reach and we were screaming along at 23 or 24 knots, I didn't even look back,” smiled Fauth. “We put half a mile on everybody. She's got legs when there's a little bit of breeze and we've done a lot of offshore sailing, so we like this stuff."
Fauth was unaware until he reached the dock that the mast of one of his rivals,Caol Ila R, had broken during one of the long reaches. “You hate to see that happen to anybody,” said Bella Mente’s owner. “We dropped a rig two years ago. Boom! If you're racing hard... it happens.”
Caol Ila R’s owner, Alex Schaerer, was philosophical - even if his regatta was over. “Nobody got hurt, and that's the most important thing. We don't know why it happened, because there was only 17 knots of wind at the time, and weren’t doing anything unusual. The good news is that we have three more days of Porto Cervo and there are some good parties for us to enjoy!”
When every Maxi 72 team is looking for the smallest possible advantage, stripping out excess weight, trying out new ideas and the latest materials, it’s inevitable that occasionally they will tip over the limit. Owner of Robertissima III, Roberto Tomasini, wouldn’t have it any other way. “All we have on board is the minimum for survival - no electrics, very few electronics, winches with coffee grinders,” says the Italian, who leads the Rolex Maxi 72 World Championship after three races. “It is nice to do regattas with fridges, TV, stereo, music and whatever. But the six owners that are here in the Maxi 72, we like the pure sailing. The close racing that we do, this is pure sport.”
For the Maxi 72 fleet, Porto Cervo has become its spiritual home according to class manager Rob Weiland. “As far as I know, this is the only class that has pledged that their World Championship always takes place at the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup. These boats and the race courses you can do here, they're made for each other. The owners of the 72s and the boats themselves really like to do a mix of racing - offshore, inshore coastals and windward-leewards. The race area here and the options offered by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda to set any course, from short courses to 80-miles courses are second to none. It's just magnificent to race around these islands, particularly on these boats which have a capacity to cover a lot of distance quickly.”
The provisional leaders of the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup after two days of racing areViriella (Supermaxi), Windfall (Maxi RC), Robertissima III (Maxi 72), H2O(Mini Maxi RC to SOT), CARO (Mini Maxi R) and Open Season (Wally), the only yacht to have scored bullets in all her races.
Yacht Club Costa Smeralda
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Maria Luisa Farris
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