MAXIS: BIG GUNS AT THE READY
With an active racing season well underway, a fleet of top maxi yachts have committed to being in Porto Cervo to compete at the 2010 Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup. The event is a favourite gathering for these competitive and striking sailing craft, which will meet off Sardinia’s spectacular Costa Smeralda from 5 – 11 September.
2010 marks the 21st edition of this annual autumn gathering and, as usual, the international fleet will comprise a mix of the latest launches and those well known on the racing circuit. The regatta features some of the most impressive sailing yachts in the world. The primary limitation on entry is length: minimum rather than maximum - all yachts must be over 18.29-metres (60-feet) in length. This year the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup forms the final act in the 2010 Rolex IMA Championship series and also includes the inaugural World Championship for the Mini Maxi fleet.
The list of returnees is strong, with a good showing of the gargantuan supermaxis, including the 45-metre Saudade (MLT) and Salperton (CAY), and Hasso Plattner’s 44-metre Visione (GER), as well as the stunning classic-looking 42-metre J-Class, Ranger.
Back to defend their 2009 Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup division titles are Neville Crichton’s Shockwave (ex-Alfa Romeo 3) (NZL), Niklas Zennstrom’s Rán (GBR), Michael Cotton’s Whisper (IRL), and Claus-Peter Offen’s Y3K (GER).
Crichton, who has previously found success with a string of larger maxis, is a strong contender for the Mini Maxi Rolex World Championship. He will be helming the Reichel/Pugh-designed 21.8-metre Shockwave, with Stu Ballantyne and Ian Moore in the afterguard. Crichton says, “we think that this will be a very close event with any of five boats able to win. I would pick, though, Rán as our biggest challenger. Our crew is largely unchanged from the Giraglia Rolex Cup and that result shows what we can achieve (1st IRC overall; 1st Mini Maxi Racing). This event is one that I always look forward to because the racing conditions in Porto Cervo are, quite simply, some of the best and most challenging in the world.”
The Mini Maxi Rolex Worlds are open to all maxi boats between 18.29-metres (60-feet) and 24.08-metres (79-feet) in length, but for the World Championship Trophy itself there is a strict owner/driver requirement. Zennstrom’s Rán has been on an impressive roll over the past year with a division win in the 2009 Rolex Sydney Hobart Race, overall win at the 2010 Onion Patch Series and a class win in the 2010 Newport Bermuda Race. Zennstrom, who will be helming Rán, is looking forward to some very close racing in his class, “this is the one regatta where the Mini Maxi fleet comes together and the one everyone is well prepared for and wants to win. All boats have become more competitive this year, so anyone can win. Porto Cervo is one of the best sailing venues in Europe so it should be a very exciting week.”
Along the way, Rán and her crew have been trading wins with another aspirant for the world title, Hap Fauth’s Bella Mente (USA), which has enjoyed a skilful season with class wins at Key West Race Week, New York Yacht Club Annual Regatta; 2nd in class in the Newport Bermuda Race, and an Overall Team win in the Onion Patch Series. The top boats in the Mini Maxi fleet are constantly being tweaked to find that extra bit of speed. Bella Mente is no exception. She underwent modifications in 2009, changing the hull shape and reducing displacement, dramatically transforming the potential of the 21-metre sloop.
The process of refinement is ongoing and, last winter, Bella Mente’s chain plates were moved and the spreaders enlarged. Fauth acknowledges this attention to detail is part of what it takes to stay ahead, “it’s an impressive international fleet. Shockwave, Alegre (GBR), Rán, and Bella Mente are very closely matched speed- and rating-wise. We have a rivalry with all of them -- there are a lot of very competitive, extraordinary, highly skilled sailors involved. It’s always a privilege to sail with this fleet.”
Another American racing Mini Maxi is Titan XV, the 22.90-metre (75-foot) Reichel/Pugh design launched last year by Tom Hill. Bill Koch, winner of the 1992 America’s Cup, has chartered Titan XV for this regatta. Koch is no stranger to the Maxi class, but it has been 20 years since his revolutionary Matador 2 broke onto the scene winning all races she entered, including the Maxi Worlds in 1990 (a series contested in Newport, Miami, and the US Virgin Islands.) and 1991 (Saint-Tropez and Porto Cervo). Koch will be helming Titan XV with New Zealander Gavin Brady calling tactics and some of Koch’s America’s Cup teammates as crew.
Until recently, Koch had been competing in the 12-Metre class circuit with KZ7/Kiwi Magic, but eventually tired of the racing. At the time Koch was thinking, “maybe I’ll just get out of sailing and spend my time on my ranch with my kids. But, each time I get on the water I find I love it. So, when Peter (Grubb, project manager for Koch), suggested I might try one of the mini maxis because they’re fun and they go fast, I said ‘I’ll give it a try and charter a boat. And if I really like it, I’ll buy one.’ It’ll be fun and to have my crew back from the America’s Cup and maxis keeps the friendships going.”
Each year the Mini Maxi category continues to gain in numbers and level of competition. Once again this type of maxi will comprise half of the 44-boat fleet currently entered at the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup. Not all are stripped out racing machines. One newcomer is Alessandro Rombelli’s 21-metre Judel Vroljk-designed Baltic 65, launched this year. Stig (ITA) was conceived with both racing and cruising in mind. It has a full interior and a telescopic lifting keel that cleverly does not influence or limit the cabin arrangements. Rombelli is more usually seen racing something smaller, in the Melges 20 circuit. For this event, he will be sailing with Lorenzo Bressani on board as tactician, “we put a lot of effort in the thinking and designing of Stig and it will be a pleasure to see it participating among some very fast and beautiful boats."
The Mini Maxi Rolex World Championship will include eight windward/leeward races and one coastal race of no more than 150 nautical miles. Four races are required to award the World Championship title.
Elsewhere in the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup fleet, there are plenty of yachts to watch out for. The Adrian Konyendyk designed and McConaghy of Sydney built 24.5-metre (80-foot) sloop-rigged Singularity (GBR), launched in January this year, arrived in the Mediterranean in mid-June. Volvo Ocean Race veteran, Bouwe Bekking is the racing skipper/helmsman. According to Bekking, “Singularity is as close to a racing yacht with a full cruising interior as you can get. She was built with speed in mind and one of the key requisites throughout the design and build process was to find optimum weight-reducing solutions, but without completely compromising the ability to cruise.” With a Design Unlimited interior proving her luxury credentials, Singularity will certainly make a mark.
The Wally class will be well represented and includes Irvine Laidlaw’s Wally 82 Highland Fling (MON), launched in 2009 and making her debut at the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup. Lindsay Owen Jones’ Magic Carpet 2 (GBR) is back for another tilt at the title he has won three times, whilst the 100-footers, Y3K and Dark Shadow (GBR) are joined by Andrea Recordati’s brand-new Indio (ITA).
Two elegant Swan 90s will also be on hand, Leonardo Ferragamo’s Solleone (ITA) and Danilo Salsi’s flush-decked racer DSK Pioneer Investments (ITA).
The Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup 2010, organised by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda takes place from 5 to 11 September. Racing commences on Monday, 6 September and concludes on Saturday, 11 September. Yacht Club Costa Smeralda, along with title sponsor Rolex, will provide a lavish array of first class social events each evening that will include the International Maxi Association Dinner, Rolex Crew Party, Rolex Gala Dinner, and Saturday’s final Prize giving Ceremony, where the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cups and Rolex timepieces will be awarded to the overall winner of each Division.
From the most luxurious, the most traditional, to the most advanced monohulls afloat today, the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup is nothing if not an astonishing line-up of sail power.
For more information about the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup 2010 including the entry list please visit www.yccs.it
FIRST MARKERS LAID
Forty-seven maxi yachts took to the waters off the Costa Smeralda today, for opening encounters at the 2010 Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup. It was a good day for most with more breeze than expected, affording all classes some quality racing. For some, of course, it was a really good day. Notables include Alegre (GBR) in the Mini Maxi Rolex World Championship with two wins out of two: a perfect opening salvo. Hamilton II (GBR) took Supermaxi, Ranger (CAY) won the anticipated battle of the J-Class and J-One (GBR) put one over her bigger rivals in Wally. All winners will be satisfied with a job well done, but will be keenly aware there is plenty more work to be done.
The three bigger boat divisions took on a 30-nautical mile course starting from just off Porto Cervo. A tricky beat up to the rocks at Monaci was followed by a beat up the outside of the Maddelena island chain to Isola Barrettinelli di Fuori, where the fleet cracked sheets and headed into the main channel. The predominantly westerly winds, which swung to the right throughout the day, provided a pleasant downwind run for the leg home, letting the competing maxis off the leash to eat up the miles on trip back to the finish off Porto Cervo. Wind strength floated either side of 10 knots throughout the afternoon, peaking at the top of the course at around 17 knots at masthead height, 14 or so closer to the water.
The Mini Maxi Rolex Worlds competitors had a harder time of it. The winds off Porto Cervo struggled to hit 10 knots at any time during the two windward-leeward races. The wind tracked right continually, eventually ending up from the north-east by the finish of the second race. The first race was a warm-up four-leg race of 7.2 nautical miles, which Andres Soriano’s Alegre won on real time as well as corrected, beating Neville Crichton’s Shockwave (NZL) into second place. Brian Benjamin’s Aegir (GBR) corrected out to be first amongst the equals in the cruiser/racers, but eighth in the world standings.
The second windward-leeward race of 10.2 nautical miles was a longer affair of six legs, in increasingly tricky winds that kept competitors and race committee on their toes. Peter Craig’s team stuck at keeping the course as honest as possible for the crews, “the wind walked right all day. It made for difficult races, particularly the second one, that would test the teams. We stayed ahead of the swings, re-orienting as necessary and I’m happy there was sufficient velocity throughout the day for two good races.”
Niklas Zennstrom’s Rán (GBR) led the fleet across the finish line of race two with sufficient margin over the chasing pack to finish second on corrected time, but the British crew could do nothing to stop their compatriots on Alegre. Back-to-back bullets completed a dream start to the Mini Maxi Rolex Worlds that will have settled any early-series nerves for Soriano. Aegir battled back from a poor first leg to secure another eighth overall, but second behind Alessandro Rombelli’s Stig (ITA) amongst the cruiser/racers.
On the long course, the expected on-the-water mismatch in the Maxi (Racing & Racing/Cruising) Division unfolded in brutal reality. Igor Simcic’s Esimit Europa 2 (SLO) may not have won the start, with the smaller Singularity (GBR) sneaking it at the committee boat end of the line, yet she put in such a strong performance over the two and three-quarter hour race that she secured not just first home, but a well-deserved bullet too. Highland Fling (GBR) put in a powerful effort too, correcting out behind Esimit and thirty seconds ahead of DSK Pioneer Investments (ITA).
Setting off at 11.35, Esimit reached Barrettinelli at just after 13.00, all the time muscling her way with ease to a solid lead, that saw Irvine Laidlaw’s Highland Fling round the red and black lighthouse some fifteen minutes later. Esimit may no longer be a supermaxi in categorisation, but in speed and potential she is the only supermaxi in town – true irony. Her margin at this point on the course left her competitors looking much smaller than they really are.
The Wally Division includes amongst its number Y3K, which is owned by Claus Peter Offen, President of the International Maxi Association, co-organisers of the event with host club Yacht Club Costa Smeralda. Jean Charles Decaux’ J One may have won the day, but with a successful start to the Association’s biggest event of the year to add to his second place in class, Offen was well-satisfied with today’s proceedings, “on behalf of IMA I am extremely happy for all the boats, and as a competitor I am very happy with our own result, just a short distance behind the first boat. This is a spectacular event, I guess the most spectacular we have ever had here with the number of boats, the quality of the boats, the quality of the sailors, and the weather of course!”
The Supermaxi Division was the last class to set off on the coastal course. They too made mincemeat of the distance. All yachts, including the graceful and sometimes sedate Hetairos, finished the race within four hours. First home was Albert Buell’s Saudade (MLT), proving waterline length will overcome if the crew work matches potential. Scratch boat in her division, she fairly thundered past Barrettinelli in an explosion of foam and spray, with Hasso Plattner’s Visione (GER) hot on her heels. Crews looked down from on high at the posse of press boats gathered to witness this contrasting display of brute force and elegance. Saudade pushed all the way home to complete the 30nm course in a fraction under three hours, joining Esimit as the only yacht to do so. Visione was just three minutes astern. Charles Dunstone’s Hamilton II (GBR) took boasting rights amongst her modern contemporaries, whilst the two J-Class yachts prevailed overall: Ranger correcting out ahead of Velsheda to secure a class win.
Racing continues tomorrow with a projected coastal race for the Supermaxi, Wally and Maxi Divisions. Competitors in the Mini Maxi Rolex World Championship face another day of windward-leeward racing.
The 2010 Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, organized by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda in conjunction with the International Maxi Association (IMA), runs from 5 to 11 September. Racing continues tomorrow, Tuesday, and with races scheduled for each following day, save Thursday, the prize giving on Saturday will be the culmination of an intense week of big boat competition. From the most luxurious, through the most traditional, to the most advanced monohulls afloat today, the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup is nothing if not an astonishing line up of sailing power.
For more information about the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup 2010 including entry lists and results please visit www.yccs.it.
THE RIGHT STUFF
Day 2 of the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup had epic written all over it from the break of dawn. The promised southeasterly winds were on schedule; a building sea-state, plenty of sunshine and forty-seven maxi yachts champing at the bit to enjoy Porto Cervo at its best. Racing started as programmed at 1130 CEST in 18 knots from the southeast. Some crews were forced into unplanned pit stops as conditions took their toll; others kept their focus on the sought-after appointment with destiny scheduled for the end of the week. Winners for the day comprised: Highland Fling (MON) in Maxi, Hetairos (CAY) in Supermaxi with Ranger (CAY) winning the J match, and, Magic Carpet (GBR) in Wally. In the Mini Maxi Rolex Worlds, British yacht Rán’s score line of 1,2,2 made her top dog, but Alegre’s (GBR) 4,1,1 keeps her in overall control.
Peter Craig, the Principal Race Officer of the week is ex-Navy. There was a touch of the swashbuckler in his efforts today. Three windward-leeward races in four hours for the Mini Maxis looked a tall order at the best of times; with the breeze hovering around 20 knots and upwards during the afternoon added to a lumpy seaway, it took a herculean effort on the part of the race committee to keep it clean and fair. The three races were similar in length: 8.8-nautical miles for the first and 8-nm for the second and third, all over four-legs.
Rán’s results from the day looked excellent to an outsider. On board the feeling was ‘could do better, must do better’. Andres Soriano’s Alegre is on fire. Rán’s strategist, Tim Powell, emphasized though that there is plenty of racing left in the Mini Maxi Rolex Worlds, after dissecting today’s endeavours, “the conditions were challenging. We had twenty knots most of the day, piping up to 24 knots for the last race. The sea state got progressively bumpier; the races were short and, to be honest, it was pretty frantic. We had a reasonable day; we won the first race and then had two seconds. I think the feeling on the boat is that we would have liked to have done a bit better, but to be boat of the day is always good.”
Rán is one of the biggest Racing mini maxis competing here; only the Bill Koch chartered Titan XV (USA) is longer. Powell feels short sharp windward-leeward courses are harder on boats of her size than some of her smaller sisters, “it is tough on the crew and quite demanding on a boat like Rán with the sail hoists and changes. We used the same jib and spinnaker all day, but we are talking big bits of gear to get up and down at each mark rounding.” A coastal course is scheduled for tomorrow and Powell is hopeful that that will advantage Rán in her quest to reel in Alegre, “we are looking at anything between 10 and 30 knots tomorrow according to the forecasts, but we’ll be going up through the islands, I expect. That will give us a chance to stretch her legs a little bit and boat speed may pay out for us.” Given Alegre has proved herself previously over long distances (she was overall winner at Rolex Middle Sea Race in 2009) and clearly has the bit between her teeth this week that may be wishful thinking.
The best of the Cruiser/Racer mini maxis looks to have been Adriano Calvini’s Felci 61 Itacentodue (ITA), whose score line of 9,10,7 in the Worlds fleet was by far the most aggressive of the day amongst the less race-oriented group of contenders. With a 9, 6 in the second and third races, Allsmoke (MLT) might reasonably have hoped for better things had a damaged mainsail ahead of the start not wrecked their first race and led to a trip back to the marina for a replacement. Allsmoke were not alone in having problems. Michael Cotter, division winner here in 2009, had his racing curtailed completely, also before the off, with a forestay problem. Work is underway to get Whisper (IRL) back out on the course for tomorrow. Idea (ITA) had a crew injury during the first race that cut short their day. H20 (ITA) and Lupa of London (ITA) failed to finish the last race of the day.
On the coastal course, it was screecher. 36-nautical miles are meat and drink to the maxi yachts. Igor Simcic’s Esimit Europa 2 (SLO) was fastest around the track, which took them to a windward mark, followed by a run to Monaci and a fast reach past alongside Caprera as they dived into the channel. It was downwind all the way to Barrettinelli di Fuori, where the fleet barrelled out of the ‘Alley’ into the building seaway and an upwind slog to the finish off Porto Cervo.
Slog is a relative term. Esimit completed the course in 2 hours 52 minutes. Whilst skipper Flavio Favini was happy enough with that, it was not enough to hold off the relentless challenge of Irvine Laidlaw’s Highland Fling that levelled the series with a four-minute corrected time victory. Favini’s view of the day: “I think we have had a good race. Our manoeuvres were good, but I think we could have done a bit better on the run downwind from Secca di Tre Monti to Palau. We may have made some mistakes regarding wind shifts, but this aside I think we have sailed the boat well today.” Favini is no greenhorn and knows full well that he has a weapon of extraordinary power in his hands, which occasionally reflects in the approach, “considering that the boat is very big and goes very fast, sometimes we may be a bit conservative and try not to take risks in the narrow passages.” Experience shows time and again in these waters that knowing when to reign back can avert a rig loss or worse still, an encounter with the many rocks hidden beneath the surface.
In the Wally Division it was Lindsay Owen Jones’ Magic Carpet’s turn to shine. Second home on the water, a mere thirty seconds behind Y3K (GER), converted to a fourteen second win. Amongst Owen Jones’ crew is Tom Whidden, a veteran of this racing area, having first sailed here in the early 1980s, “of all the venues that I race in, this is probably the best. It is really pretty going through the islands. The sea conditions were nice and the wind strength was really good today. We do not get to sail in a southerly very often here and that was fun, something new. We won today, but only won by 14 seconds. Y3K was nipping at our heels the whole way and actually at the last mark (in Pevero Bay), they just got ahead of us. We had a little better spinnaker set and maybe got a little puff right at the end to beat them by 14 seconds [on corrected]. It doesn't get any closer than that and never gets much more exciting than that!”
The Supermaxi Division saw two of the largest yachts on the course – Hasso Plattner’s Visione (GER) and Albert Buell’s Saudade (MLT) engage in a Teutonic match-race both inside and outside the Maddalena archipelago. Suggesting that the crews threw their 40-plus-metre steeds into tack after tack and gybe after gybe would be to exaggerate. But two owners prepared to race such magnificent craft head-to-head in confined waters deserve some hyperbole. Buell was certainly invigorated by the experience, “it was a great race. We started very well and were first to the windward mark in our class. We were very fast down through the islands and then the leg back was 12-nautical miles upwind. Here we lost our first place to our competitor, Hasso Plattner, but it was an enjoyable and hard race. It is certainly very exciting to match race these two boats through the islands. We enjoy sailing here very, very much.”
Results did not favour the mighty moderns though. Salperton posted a fourth place that will have cheered owner, Barry Houghton, but it was not enough to prevent a classic looking one-two-three. The ketch, Hetairos (CAY), made hay from the conditions to correct into second, splitting the two J-Class yachts. But it was Ranger’s day once again, as America’s Cup legend Brad Butterworth explained, “we managed to get quite a good start below the big boats. Velsheda was in between, got rolled over quite quickly and so dropped back. That gave us an advantage around the top mark. Then it was a bit of a procession from there on, as Velsheda broke a jib [halfway up the initial beat]. Even though they were not quite in contention to get to us, they stayed close enough to do so if we had a problem.”
Butterworth, who helped with the helming, thought today’s conditions were good for the heavy displacement boats, “[Ranger] is a big heavy boat. I don't think it's that easy to steer all the way around the course, but it's fun to sail. 1936 is when this boat was designed and it is pretty difficult to push it any harder than we did today. Everything is loaded to the max, but we have some good crew on board, who've been with the boat for a long time now.”
Tomorrow will see coastal racing for all divisions. The weather forecast has a degree of uncertainty about it with wind predictions varying from the dull to the unnerving. The racing will never be dull and even if it is at times unnerving, it will always be a thrill to witness the crews at work and these craft in full flight. Racing commences at 1130 CEST.
The 2010 Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, organized by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda in conjunction with the International Maxi Association (IMA), runs from 5 to 11 September. Racing continues tomorrow, Wednesday, and with races scheduled for each following day, save Thursday, the prize giving on Saturday will be the culmination of an intense week of big boat competition. From the most luxurious, through the most traditional, to the most advanced monohulls afloat today, the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup is nothing if not an astonishing line up of sailing power.
Results after Day Two
Place, Boat Name, Owner, R1-R2, Total Points
Maxi Racing & Racing/Cruising
1) Highland Fling, Irvine Laidlaw, 2-1, 3.0 points
2) Esimit Europa 2, Igor Simcic, 1-2, 3.0
3) Singularity, Deniy Yacht Mngmt, 4-3, 7.0
1) Y3k, Claus Peter Offen, 2-2, 4.0
2) Magic Carpet 2, Lindsay Owen Jones, 5-1, 6.0
3) J One, Jean-Charles Decaux, 1-5, 6.0
1) Ranger, R.S.V. Ltd, 1-1, 2.0
2) Velsheda, Tarbat Investment, 2-3, 5.0
3) Hamilton II, Lockstock Ltd, 3-6, 9.0
Place, Boat Name, Owner, Country, R1-R2-R3-R4-R5, Points
Mini Maxi Rolex World Championship
1) Alegre (GBR), Andy Soriano, 1-1-(4)-1-1, 4.0
2) Ran, Niklas Zennstrom (GBR), (6)-2-1-2-2, 7.0
3) Shockwave (NZL), Neville Crichton, 2-3-2-(5)-5, 12.0
September 8, 2010
OUT OF THE CANNON AND GONE
What had the makings of a mammoth encounter between the dark side of mother nature and the maxi yacht class, on day three of the 2010 Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, turned out to be far happier collision than expected, following some quick thinking by the Race Committee. The forecast weather for today was always tainted with unpredictability. With yachts on the racecourse heading for an unannounced swiftly forming violent thunderstorm, Peter Craig made the call to abandon racing and take refuge until the forty-knot squall had passed through. What a call to have to make. Vindication came in the 25-nautical mile race sailed later in the day by all classes in bright sunshine and a 20-knot westerly that brought the crews home grinning from ear to ear.
Today’s lucky stars were: Bella Mente (USA) in Mini Maxi; Esimit Europa 2 (SLO) in Maxi; Gibian (GBR) in Wally, and, Visione (GER) in Supermaxi, with Ranger (CAY) top of the J Class.
A coastal race was always on the menu for the whole fleet. First thing this morning conditions seemed remarkably benign after an orchestral, but silent electrical storm in the northern sky had entertained Porto Cervo residents last night. By race time we had a building breeze from the northwest but some very dark clouds on the horizon. Not black enough to foretell doom, but certainly time to put on the foul-weather gear. The Mini Maxi Division, starting the sixth race of its projected nine race series Mini Maxi Rolex Worlds, got underway in 15 knots and an unsettling lumpy sea. Rán (GBR) led the drag race fetch to Capo Ferro, entering ‘Bomb Alley’ with Shockwave (NZL) immediately behind and Container (GER) on the right hand wing.
It was at this point that news of a postponement of the Maxi Division start filtered over the radio, closely followed by the abandonment announcement that took sometime to reach the frontrunners. The return to Porto Cervo was a dignified scurry. Forty-nine maxis hurriedly trying to dock in a confined harbour requires good sense from boat captains and some skill from the marina staff. The buffeting arrived on cue, but was short-lived.
By 1330 CEST, the situation had improved sufficiently for the fleet to return to the field of combat and embark on short coastal course that involved a beat into the channel at Capo Ferro, a sharp right turn onto a reach at Secca di Tre Monti, another right turn at Monaci and a huge reach down to Mortoriotto to the south of Porto Cervo. From there it was back on the wind again and a fetch up to Golfo Pevero and on to the finish.
In the Maxis, Igor Simcic’s Esimit burnt up the strip in rather dismissive one hour forty-one minutes. Irvine Laidlaw’s Highland Fling (MON) followed her home some thirteen minutes later, to correct out three minutes behind. Esimit is in overall control of this class, but only one point separates her from Fling, so she is a long way from certain victory. Olympic silver medallist and America’s Cup winner, Peter Holmberg is tactician for the week on Highland Fling; he felt that some key sail calls were the difference between a good result or not, “it went well for us today. A good beat up into the passage, cross-tacking in 20 knots. Then the first test was the reach across the top. It was two-part: broad to start and getting tighter. The big decision was asymmetric sail or jib reach. We put up our A3 and the boat speed shot up another 4-5 knots. We tightened up around the gybe mark (Monaci) and had the long run back down to the bottom of the course. We faced another decision [on this leg] over jib or A-sail, we waited a while and when we deployed it we wished we had done so eight-minutes earlier because we just took off – a great, exciting blast with 27, 28 knots of boat speed.”
Mike Toppa is another America’s Cup winner onboard Highland Fling, “this was the most fun racing I’ve done in a long time. Lots of reaching off the wind: that is when this boat really lights up. We talked ourselves into putting up a bigger sail than the range suggested for the first beat to avoid having to change at the first mark. We kept it up all race, putting up other sails around it and you rarely do that!” Toppa explained a little of the philosophy behind Fling and why she motors in these conditions like few others her size, “she’s only a year old. Irvine (Laidlaw) wanted a boat that would plane like other grand-prix boats, but it had to have to have an interior. So it’s got four staterooms and teak decks, but it gets up and planes. It’s got chines on the sides for stability and two rudders for more control. The big bonus is that it is just a really nice boat to sail.”
For once, king of the heap in the Wallys proved to be a relative unheralded combatant. Gibian (GBR) has been to Porto Cervo twice before, never winning a race. Her owner, Armando Grandi, has though tasted success here previously albeit with a different boat. Today Gibian did enough for her maiden Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup victory, correcting out 20 seconds ahead of the highly competitive Y3K, whose second-place gives her a perfectly ordered series score line of 2,2,2. If Claus Peter Offen’s crew continues with that level of consistency, none of the chasing pack will be able to outdo her. Grandi, though, was delighted with today and despite one hiccough. “These boats are meant to be sailed,” said Grandi, who is 83 and enjoys cruises extensively in between bouts of racing. “We had a very good day, although unfortunately we tore our gennaker. It happened on last leg at Mortoriotto. We were taking down the gennaker and made a little mistake. The sail fell in the water and tore. We hope we can borrow one to continue racing!” After today’s brief brush with glory that is a heartfelt hope for the crew that includes three generations of the Grandi family.
In the Mini Maxi Rolex Worlds, Hap Fauth’s Bella Mente outplayed all of her bigger rivals to win on the water and handicap. Two minutes ahead of Rán (GBR) at the finish is as comprehensive as it gets in this class. For the time being, Andres Soriano and Alegre (GBR) retain the overall lead, but the wolves are circling. The lead is now down to one point, after Alegre’s fourth place today.
Fauth is renowned for a big grin and it was in fine form this evening, dockside, as he described the race, “just a great day, really fun. It was the normal jungle course. Long first beat, reach, long reach down, tight reach and then a windward beat to finish. We had a good start, in the top three at the first mark.” Here too, sail selection was a key part of the exemplary performance, according to Fauth, “we had a little sail that really worked for us, a fractional code zero. We threw that boat on the plane and we were gone…gone…shot out of the cannon. Full tilt, fill the main up, get on the rails and go! It was a fun day…”
Amongst the Mini Maxi Cruiser/Racers, Brian Benjamin’s Aegir (GBR) was not the best performer today – that honour went to Riccardo De Michele’s H20 (ITA) – but Aegir’s series results so far appear to give them a slim lead over Grande Orazio (ITA).
Tomorrow is a layday at the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup. A day to recharge the batteries and lick wounds, all the time making ready for two more days of highly charged racing. The Mini Maxi Rolex Worlds fleet expects to return on Friday with a coastal race on their schedule, before the final showdown windward/ leewards on Saturday. The Supermaxis and Maxis have two more coastal races to complete their programme. The Wallys, meanwhile, have one coastal race and a day of windward/leewards to close out their Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup series. Shockwave is seven points off the pace and Neville Crichton’s team will be scratching their heads hard to find some answers. Crichton is too competitive to concede this event with three races to go.
The 2010 Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, organized by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda in conjunction with the International Maxi Association (IMA), runs from 5 to 11 September. Racing recommences on Friday and with racing scheduled for Saturday too, the prize giving on Saturday will be the culmination of an intense week of big boat competition. From the most luxurious, through the most traditional, to the most advanced monohulls afloat today, the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup is nothing if not an astonishing line up of sailing power.
Provisional Standings after Day 3
Place, Boat, Skipper, Races 1-2-3, Total Points
Maxi Racing & Racing/Cruising
1) Esimit Europa 2, Igor Simcic, 1-2-1, 4.0 points
2) Highland Fling, Irvine Laidlaw, 2-1-2, 5.0
3) Singularity, Deniy Yacht Mngmt, 4-3-3, 10.0
1) Y3k, Claus Peter Offen, 2-2-2, 6.0
2) Magic Carpet 2, Lindsay Owen Jones, 5-1-3, 9.0
3) Indio, Andrea Recordati, 4-3-4, 11.0
1) Ranger, R.S.V. Ltd, 1-1-1, 3.0
2) Velsheda, Tarbat Investment, 2-3-7, 12.0
3) Hetairos, Rockport Ltd, 8-2-3, 13.0
Place, Boat, Country, Skipper, Races 1-2-3-4-5-6, Total Points
Mini Maxi Rolex World Championship
1) Alegre (GBR), Andy Soriano, 1-1-(4)-1-1-4, 8.0
2) Ran, Niklas Zennstrom (GBR), (6)-2-1-2-2-2, 9.0
3) Shockwave (NZL), Neville Crichton, 2-3-2-(5)-5-3, 15.0
For more information about the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup 2010 including entry lists and results please visit www.yccs.it.
September 10, 2010
More often than not yacht races are won by minutes and seconds; today feet and inches played a part in the results on day four of the 2010 Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup. Two yachts touched hard unforgiving rocks that have caught out so many time and again on this seemingly benignly named emerald coast of Sardinia. Cutting corners when you draw close to five-metres is a game of chance involving the finest of margins. Whilst the campaigns of Rán (GBR) and Container (GER) ground to a jarring, gut-twisting halt, others continued to push onwards to their destiny. For those with aspirations of glory the penultimate day of racing was crunch time in more ways than one.
Today’s skipping stones were: Y3K (GER) and Indio (ITA) in Wally, both scoring five points over their two windward-leeward races; OPS 5 (ITA) took advantage of a confused situation to scoop a first win in the Mini Maxi Rolex Worlds for a Racer/Cruiser yacht; Esimit Europa 2 (SLO) made use of her waterline length and mast-height to cruise to victory in Maxi. The Supermaxi match was secured by Gliss (SUI) and, in the J’s, Velsheda (GBR) finally showed her true colours getting the better of Ranger (CAY).
Going into the final race day, those in control of their fate are: Claus Peter Offen’s Y3K in Wally, with a three-point lead over Lindsay Owen Jones’ Magic Carpet 2 (GBR); Igor Simcic’s Esimit in Maxi with cushion of two-points over Irvine Laidlaw’s Highland Fling (MON); Hetairos (CAY) in Supermaxi is looking down on Hasso Plattner’s Visione (GER), one point back; John Williams and Ranger leads Ronald de Waal and Velsheda (GBR) by a whopping nine-points; and, in the Mini Maxi Rolex Worlds, Andy Soriano’s Alegre (GBR) has a five-point margin over Niklas Zennstrom’s Rán, whilst Brian Benjamin’s Aegir (GBR) looks most promising for the Racer/Cruiser title with a twelve-point gap to Massimo Violati’s OPS 5.
The Wallys undertook two windward-leeward races of 8 and 8.8 nautical miles in light breeze. The piece of knotted string that had to be unwound by the Mini Maxis, Maxis, Supermaxi and J-Class was a convoluted 38 nautical-mile course, which ended being shortened for two of the classes after the wind in the middle part refused to entertain the biggest boats in the yacht racing world.
The long course comprised a short beat to a windward-mark, followed by a close reach down to the channel between Isola delle Bisce and Capo Ferro, a fetch to Secca di Tre Monti and then a sharp right turn to Monaci. Wind for this period was difficult, but by comparison to what lay ahead it was an easy piece of the puzzle. At Monaci everyone hardened up to take on a beat to Barrettinelli di Fuori in a dwindling supply of wind. The left turn into the archipelago and run down to Spargi, which was left to port, looked even worse. Thankfully, from Spargi onwards it was downwind, but not downhill in wind strength, all the way home to Porto Cervo.
If the beat to Barrettinelli was a head scratcher for the strategists, the rounding of Spargi may have led to a number jumping ship as the island formed a sponge sucking in the yachts, as a slow-moving tail back was established off its western shore. There was sufficient gas in the tank to keep boats moving, but painfully, painfully slowly for yachts more accustomed to having it all their own way. Esimit escaped the trap. Her time around the full course a staggering forty minutes faster than Highland Fling. The Mini Maxis and Supermaxis will be thankful that there were no yachts fast enough to beat the rapidly set shortened-course finish line at Secca di Tre Monti. In the Maxi class, Singularity (GBR), Farewell (ITA) and DSK Pioneer Investments (ITA) were forced to sail the complete distance.
Shockwave (NZL) was the first Mini Maxi to cross the line. Owner Neville Crichton viewed this as positive, but his overall result as a disappointment after a promising start. Shockwave was the only boat to reach Monaci before the 30.5 metre Esimit, no doubt a satisfying achievement for the blue boat’s former owner. Had she not been stymied subsequently by the wind, Shockwave would have been odds on favourite to reach the next turning mark in the lead too, so much was she in control.
Crichton described his day, “we were leading all the way to Monaci. Then the boats behind carried the breeze up and three passed us. We had to fight our way back through coming down Bomb Alley. We got back in the lead, but only marginally, about ten lengths on Alegre, I guess. We needed the racetrack to keep going, but it did not work that way. It was a good day, though. At least we led from the beginning! With Rán hitting the rock, I’d say we’re back in for a crack at second (overall) tomorrow. Not first; Alegre just needs one good race to close it out.”
Licking their wounds in Mini Maxi are Container and Rán. At press time Udo Schutz’s Container is the worse off. Her racing series is definitely over after her encounter with the rocks off Isola del Bisce. According to the crew it was a total surprise to strike the hard stuff, the chart showed them to be in at least 10-metres of water. Perched on the mystery outcrop, the German mini maxi formed a temporary mark warning the passing fleet of the perils of Porto Cervo in a graphic manner.
For Rán the extent of the damage has yet to be determined and she is headed to Palau to be lifted and inspected. Tommaso Chieffi, who is as familiar with these waters as anyone, explained what happened, “going round Spargiotto, it was very light. We had just done a peel from Code Zero to A2 and were coasting past the island in a good puff. The navigator felt we had room to hold our course, but there is a little rock that sticks out a long way from the shore. We came to a sudden halt and it was that rock. It is fairly big but with the swell left over from the south-easterly we hoped we might lift over it. After hitting the ground three or four times, we decided to motor off in reverse. We’re not sure how bad it is, but we are hoping it can be fixed overnight and we can go sailing tomorrow.”
The Racer/Cruisers certainly benefited from the travails of the Racing mini maxis, as Aegir’s owner, Brian Benjamin, confirmed, “we had a difficult start today as we were hit by Whisper. It was very patchy and the winds were difficult, so it was a long but beautiful day. It was strange for Porto Cervo because towards the back end the winds picked up. We were able to finish with quite good speed and had a really good result. We came third overall. Maybe we’ll be reclassified as a racing boat!”
Velsheda’s win in Supermaxi has done little to influence the outcome of the J Class battle. Ranger’s commanding position will have cheered the crew who, according to bowman Geordie Shaver, had the A1 up and down so many times it started to look like a venetian blind. Hasso Plattner has cause to be disappointed with today’s efforts on Visione (GER), which finished third. Hetairos pulled a superb victory out of the hat and now leads the division.
With the struggles with wind and rocks unfolding elsewhere, the Wallys will have appreciated their decision to put a couple of short-course races into their programme. Y3K and Indio both accumulated five points over the two races, although the German yacht included a win in her scoreline. Her compatriot yacht Thomas Bscher’s Open Season took the other win.
On Indio, afterguard member, Jono Swain’s view was that they could have done better, “it was a tough day for us. We had a couple of opportunities to do better, but we did not capitalize on those opportunities. The wind didn’t pick up as much as we wanted; we go a little bit better when the wind is above 9 or 10 knots. The breeze was quite shifty as well, going through probably 15 or 20 degrees and up and down between 9 knots and 11.5 knots. You had to concentrate really hard, with everyone working together on the boat. We lost points to the leaders and the guys behind caught up a bit on us.”
Swain says they have not given up and will come out fighting tomorrow, “five points behind, anything can happen but it is going to be tough. We’re not pessimistic about it but we are trying to be realistic. We’ll go out there and just try to do our best. Hopefully the other guys can make some mistakes. We like both windward-leeward and the coastals, but you certainly make more gains or losses with two short races!”
Tomorrow sees the final manoeuvres for the fleet. The Mini Maxis will hope to get in two windward-leewards, whilst the remaining classes will undertake a coastal course. Nothing is over until it’s over and, with the risks associated with sailing these waters brought home with clarity today, even those leading overnight face an uncertain future.
The Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup is organized by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda in conjunction with the International Maxi Association (IMA). From the most luxurious, through the most traditional, to the most advanced monohulls afloat today, the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup is nothing if not an astonishing line up of sailing power.