The Rolex Swan Cup is one of the most visually captivating sailing competitions: a unique meeting of some of the world’s finest yachts, all built by Nautor’s Swan. So far, nearly 70 Swan yachts have confirmed participation and the final figure is expected to reach 100 – an impressive showing for one of the Mediterranean’s most iconic yachting occasions. This biennial event was inaugurated in 1980 and its enduring partnership with Rolex began in 1984. Traditionally held in Porto Cervo, Sardinia, the 17th edition takes place from 10-16 September.
Four classes are anticipated: Maxi (18.29 metres/60 feet and above), Grand Prix (18.28m and below), Classic (models designed by Sparkman and Stephens) and Swan 45 One-Design, where 2010 World Champion Earlybird (GER) is returning to defend her crown.
The international reach of the Rolex Swan Cup is confirmed by the presence of some 13 countries in the entry list. Debutante Russian entrant Bronenosec (Swan 60) has been a regular on the 2012 Rolex circuit with notable performances at both the Rolex Volcano Race and the Giraglia Rolex Cup. Plis Play (ESP, Swan 80), which also featured at the Rolex Volcano Race, is one of two Spanish entries. The other is Clem (Swan 56), which finished a close second in the Grand Prix class in 2010.
Two yachts that will be aiming to improve their 2010 results are the Italian Swan 65 Shirlaf and the German Swan 60 Emma. Both finished second in their respective classes (Classic and Maxi) two years ago. Shirlaf is one of a number of participating Swan 65s; the classic Sparkman & Stephens design won the inaugural Whitbread Round the World Race in 1974 and helped cement Nautor’s Swan’s legendary status in yachting’s firmament.
The Swan 43 Fidibù has the honour of representing the make’s homeland of Finland. Arriving from furthest afield appears to be the American crew on Constanter (Swan 62RS). The smallest participant at 11.66 metres (38 feet), Italian Swan 38 Only You is also one of the oldest, while the largest yacht attending is the 34.4-metre (112-foot) Swan Highland Breeze.
Five days of racing are scheduled on the revered waters of the Costa Smeralda and the Maddalena Archipelago. Competition will be fierce but refreshing, as regular competitor and President of Nautor’s Swan since 1998, Leonardo Ferragamo, explains: “The event has a unique spirit because it represents a love of boats and a desire to compete not just in any regatta, but in a regatta where there is uniformity in the competition. The feelings of friendship and good sportsmanship that characterize this regatta have grown over time.”
The regatta is organized by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda and concludes with a traditional prize-giving on the Piazza Azzura where winners of all four categories will be presented with a Rolex timepiece to crown their excellence on the water.
The Perini Navi Cup is a superyacht regatta restricted exclusively to Perini yachts that for a few days gather to challenge each other in the Mediterranean Sea.
After the first edition in 2004 Perini Navi Cups have been held in 2006 and 2009, the appointment for the fourth edition will take place between the 1st and 4th September 2011 in Porto Cervo, Sardinia, one of the most beautiful west mediterranean charter destination.
Yachts, over the years have come to be associated more with leisure and entertainment. But the performance yachts that sail and compete in a regatta can still generate so much excitement that it can get you hooked to sailing for life. The Perini Navi Cup, the annual super-luxe regatta in Sardinia is already gearing up to present a grand event that is better than the previous years in every which way. The event is still a few months away but some big ticket sponsors have already come on board and that’s why the organizers are confident that the regatta in Sardinia will be a super show this year.
The regatta will take place from September 1 to 4 in the waters around Porto Cervo. The event is dedicated to the world’s most stylish sailing superyachts. The format of the regatta has been marginally enlarged this year and an extra day of racing has been added to the original schedule. The participating yachts are all priceless beauties that are capable of outperforming the others if handled skillfully. If you calculate the value of all the yachts competing in the regatta it will add up to hundreds of millions of dollars. The megabucks Maltese Falcon will be there with the Lord Foster-designed Panthalassa and founder Fabio Perini’s own Elettra. Many other big names will be confirming their participation.
The sailing superyacht regatta is being organized under the auspices of the ultra-exclusive Yacht Club Costa Smeralda. The big name sponsors who are backing the event this year are Rolex, Audi and Champagne Pommery. There are several others who will be contributing to the success of the event. If you are passionate enough to want to participate, you can check the James list for some of the best yachts on sale.
Last year Cagliari, capital of the beautiful island of Sardinia, played host to the glittering finale of the 2010 Audi MedCup Circuit. The gulf of Cagliari was where the final battles were settled and the titles won.
When the 2011 Audi MedCup Circuit reaches Cagliari in one week’s time the shimmering waters and engaging mix of breezes will set the scene for the theoretical mid-point of the season, half way through the itinerary of five trophy regattas.
For many of the competitor’s in both the 52 Series and the 40 Series, the goal will be to simply keep on doing what they have been doing, making small improvements. Others still have considerable room for improvement.
Last season Quantum Racing (USA) arrived in Cagliari harbouring hopes of a late catch up on the champions elect Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL). This time the crew which is lead by America’s Cup winner Ed Baird are looking to preserve their 11 points lead at the top of the leaderboard.
“For sure our goal is to leave Cagliari having managed to increase our lead, but we would be pleased to finish with the same lead. Cagliari has consistently proven a tough place to race, we are hoping it will be a little easier than Marseille.” Explains Quantum Racing’s project manager Ed Reynolds (USA).
After finishing second to Germany’s Container, winners of the Marseille Trophy, Reynolds is clear that he was in no way disappointed in their team’s performance in France. “It is quite the opposite in fact. It is always hard at a venue like that to go in a leader, being leader is definitely more difficult. In fact we were happy for example with the three race day when we came in having put just 10 points on the board. We were really happy with that. As leader you just cannot afford to take the risks that others did on a race area like that. We were pleased to be quick but for me it is akin to watching the Tour de France at the moment and seeing how difficult it is to protect the yellow jersey, you cannot take the risks that others do to get up to you. In the end in Marseille we gave up one and a half points to one boat there and extended on the others. And you consider that if Audi All4ONE’s risky call on the final race had not paid off as it did we would have tied on points and won the regatta. It was that close.”
“Let us just say that are cautiously optimistic about Cagliari. We do a lot of work between regattas. One of the things about a box rule is that ‘pick your poison’. You will always be giving up some speed somewhere and you have to choose that area. Consistently we can see where we are strong but have been working hard on the little areas we have seen as exposures.”
A summer mix, changing targets.
High summer in Cagliari sees a really good mix of wind conditions and predominantly flat water. The sea breezes tend to wrap round the points into the big, deep U shaped bay and it is not unusual for the breezes to split and conflict on either side of the course. And the strong Mistral blows offshore from the head of the gulf, accelerating hard down the long miles of flat land to the north.
With a second and first in consecutive regattas Udo Schütz’s Rolf Vroijk designed Container has proven the class act which has so far pushed the American flagged world champions the hardest. But it will be the first time Markus Wieser (GER) has skippered his team at the tricky Sardinian venue but so successful have been their first outings in the class, perhaps the German flagged crew are setting their sights even higher: “We are more than happy so far with the outcomes of the first 52 Series regattas. We had set goals quite high at the start of the season, hoping to finish in the Top 3, but it worked out well for us twice already, so why should be we not change the target?” says Wieser.
“Our strength is the good team, working hard together and having a lot of fun. We have no internal pressure at all. It is so important to enjoy racing together if you want to be successful. You even need to have a laugh on board at times. We planned to do the whole Audi MedCup Circuit with the same crew, so no changes. Never change a winning team!”
Despite a difficult start to their campaign pre-season goals have not been modified much on board Audi Sailing Team powered by All4ONE, skippered by Germany’s multiple Olympic medallist Jochen Schümann. They hope to be much more competitive in Cagliari, a venue he now knows well: “Although you could not see it in the final ranking we really made a big step in Marseille compared to Cascais where we had speed problems with the new boat. To win a race and be so close to another bullet gives us so much more self confidence. We hope to build on that and climb the leaderboard from here.”
“Keeping up with our goal of top three for the 2011 Audi MedCup Circuit will be hard because we already lost many points in these first two events and it is not so likely the leaders will struggle in the future, but we still look to shoot for podium finishes in each regatta.”
In the 40 Series, two wins from two regattas highlights the consistency of the Iberdrola Sailing Team, but they have been pushed hard at each event by different teams: “Our boat is already in Cagliari and ready to go and the team have been racing in J80’s and Laser. Meantime we have been working how to optimise the sails, building a few new ones, something we are allowed to do after ten races. Part of our crew have raced in Cagliari and know they have sailed in tough 20-25 knots conditions.”
“It is evident that the other teams are all improving and it is getting closer. I think that if there was a point at which we had an advantage because of our preparation it is now gone.”
“Our goal for Cagliari is to win the Trophy and stay on top of the standings.” Recounts Iberdrola Sailing Team’s project manager Augustin Zulueta (ESP).”
Racing starts with the 52 Series Practice Race Tuesday, points racing from Wednesday, while the 40 Series Practice Race is on Wednesday and their points racing starts Thursday.
Follow all the racing live on Audi MedCup TV on www.medcup.org.
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.
The Louis Vuitton Trophy is coming to Sardinia in May, with 10 elite sailing teams set to race for two weeks on the sparkling waters of the Mediterranean Sea off La Maddalena.
© Paul Todd/outsideimages.co.nz | Louis Vuitton Trophy
With just one month to go before racing begins on May 22nd, the host team, Mascalzone Latino Audi Team, is eager to extend a warm welcome to teams, sponsors and guests alike.
“La Maddalena is among the best places in the world to sail,” said Vincenzo Onorato, the team principal of Mascalzone Latino Audi Team. “The waters are warm, the wind conditions are very good and the people of La Maddalena will be gracious hosts. I want to welcome all of my sailing friends and fans of the sport to join us here in May.”
The Louis Vuitton Trophy – La Maddalena follows two successful regattas in Auckland (February 2010) and Nice (November 2009) over the past six months. Further events are planned in Dubai in November and Hong Kong in January of 2011.
For La Maddalena, two additional teams will join the eight who competed in Auckland, and both are world-class sailing squads. BMW ORACLE Racing, who won the America’s Cup Match in February, rejoins the Louis Vuitton Trophy after it missed the Auckland regatta due to its Cup commitments.
Luna Rossa, which has competed for the America’s Cup three times, winning the Louis Vuitton Cup in 2000, will race for the Louis Vuitton Trophy for the very first time, after sailing in a precursor event, the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series in 2009. Luna Rossa has assembled an impressive crew, including skipper Ed Baird, winner of the 32nd America’s Cup with Alinghi and tactician Torben Grael, who skippered Ericsson to a win in the last Volvo Ocean Race.
The addition of Luna Rossa will make for three Italian teams in La Maddalena, including Azzurra, the winning team in the Nice event. Also on the start list is the champion from Auckland, Emirates Team New Zealand. The full line-up for La Maddalena is 10 teams, representing eight countries:
Aleph, FRA, skipper Bertrand Pacé
All4One, FRA/GER, skipper Jochen Schümann
Artemis, SWE, skipper Paul Cayard
Azzurra, ITA, skipper Francesco Bruni
BMW ORACLE Racing, USA, skipper James Spithill
Emirates Team New Zealand, NZL, skipper Dean Barker
Luna Rossa, ITA, skipper Ed Baird
Mascalzone Latino Audi Team, ITA, skipper Gavin Brady
Synergy, RUS, skipper Karol Jablonski
TEAMORIGIN, GBR, skipper Ben Ainslie
In the Louis Vuitton Trophy regattas, the teams match-race equalised America’s Cup Class boats. For La Maddalena, the boats will be supplied by BMW ORACLE Racing (USA 87 and USA 98) and Mascalzone Latino Audi Team (ITA 90 and ITA 99).
La Maddalena is small town (population near 12 000) on an island with the same name that sits just one nautical mile off the Northeast coast of Sardinia. It is renowned for its beaches and its pink, rocky terrain and like Sardinia itself, offers up some of the most stunning backdrops for sailing in the Mediterranean.
The race village itself is set up about one kilometre to the east of the centre of town, near the southeast corner of the island. The heart of the race village will feature a big screen broadcasting all of the action from the race course. Crews will be in the race village interacting with the crowds during photo sessions, autograph signings and public press conferences. Food and beverage as well as team merchandise is also available, and the Louis Vuitton Junior Trophy will be contested by local junior sailors.
The easiest way to get to La Maddalena is to fly into Olbia’s Costa Smeralda airport (many flights transfer through Rome) and then transfer by road to Palau, approximately 40 kilometres to the north of Olbia. From Palau, there is a short ferry to La Maddalena. Alternatively, there are ferries into Palau from Corsica as well as Genoa and Napoli.
Racing is scheduled from the 22nd May through the 6th June. But teams will start official training sessions on the 18th May.
Final day at the 20th Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup dawned with blue sky and a gentle north-easterly breeze between 8 and 10 knots. One more opportunity for those already at the top of the standings to prove themselves worthy of winning. Good news also for those yachts still within touching distance of the top. A race would mean opportunity and in yacht-racing opportunity is everything, but only if you are prepared to take it. Getting your name inscribed on the trophies at the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup is no easy feat. Only those most deserving achieve the feat. At close of play those truly in clover were: Ronald de Waal and Velsheda (GBR); Claus Peter Offen and Y3K (GER); Mick Cotter and Whisper (IRL); Filippo Faruffini and Roma-Aniene (ITA), and, Neville Crichton and Alfa Romeo (NZL). Flush with victory and the spoils associated – the Maxi Yacht Cup and a Rolex Yacht-master Chronometer.
If only it were so simple. In Cruising/Spirit of Tradition, Velsheda had wrapped up her division a day early by virtue of winning every race to that point. In Wally, Y3K was also impregnable, by virtue of having scored more firsts than her closest rival, Open Season (GER), which could only match Y3Ks score however badly Offen’s crew sailed the last race; a situation where count-back would favour Offen.
In Racing/Cruising, Roma-Aniene never seemed likely to be overtaken by DSK Pioneer Investments, but the door was still open if DSK could repeat yesterday’s result and finish ahead of Roma. The chances of this seemed slim given Roma had not given DSK a sniff all week until her mainsail issues of yesterday. The same scenario existed in Mini Maxi Racing/Cruising, where both Aegir (GBR) and OPS 5 (ITA) had a mathematical chance to overtake Whisper, should she finish seventh or worse, something Whisper had not done all week. She had had problems yesterday, though, finishing fifth. So a glimmer of hope flickered on. In both cases you had to think lightning does not strike twice.
The classification where the duelling would go closest to the wire looked to be Mini Maxi Racing. Tight battles looked likely in both Mini Maxi Racing (Owner/Driver) and the larger overall Mini Maxi Racing 00 group. The Owner/Driver contest was between Neville Crichton’s Alfa Romeo 3 (NZL) and Hap Fauth’s Bella Mente (USA). The stakes were high; the pressure was on. The maths were simple for Bella Mente, she had to come first. Anything less would not be enough. For Alfa, if she could win or prevent the American crew from winning she would prevail.
The 00 group was also a two-way tussle and also involved Alfa Romeo, with the likes of triple Olympic Gold medallist Ben Ainslie in the crew roster, along with Niklas Zennström’s Rán (GBR). With a three-point separation, the onus was on Alfa to win and hope Rán would finish no better than fourth. Heading out to the start there was every possibility that Crichton might be distracted by his battle with Fauth, since that was where the major prize would be awarded. At the beginning of the week, though, Crichton had stated his aim was to win both groups. Given his competitive streak is longer and wider than most, no one would bet against the New Zealander attempting to win outright from the front.
In the end, the excitement came in only one spot.
Velsheda confirmed her supremacy in Cruising/Spirit of Tradition winning the final race. Hasso Plattner’s Visione (GER) did enough to beat Charles Dunstone’s Hamilton II (GBR) in the race today and to take second on the podium. Roma-Aniene confirmed yesterday’s problems were no more than a blip by adding a fourth bullet to her Racing/Cruising scoreline. Danilo Salsi’s DSK’s second place in the race and the overall standing will be some compensation. Whisper, too, asserted herself once more adding a fourth bullet to her Mini Maxi Racing/Cruising record and securing the class by 10-points over Brian Benjamin’s Aegir.
Ronald de Waal skipper and helmsman of Velsheda attributed his victory in Cruising/Spirit of Tradition to his crew, “the team we sail with has been together for a long time, some have been with us for eight years. Of course, we sail with some of the very best in the world and that helps.” This is de Waal’s first overall win at the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup; he has sailed several times before and really enjoys the competition and the location, “it’s a combination of nature, the area, we always have beautiful wind, really beautiful surroundings and always a very good fleet.”
Claus Peter Offen sealed his Wally Division victory with another win. Not bad for a yacht launched in July this year. Sailing with designer Mani Frers onboard as a guest, Offen was understandably delighted with his yacht and the win, “we thought we could get in the top three, but to win with a brand-new boat is unexpected. You usually will have some technical problems, but in all six races we were always first over the line and never had any problems.” Offen paid tribute to his crew, particularly acknowledging the work on the first two days when conditions were at their most difficult.
Filippo Faruffini came, saw and conquered for the second time; Roma confirming her superiority over the series in Racing/Cruising. Faruffini was surprised given how they had come into the competition, “this is sport and you can leave nothing to chance. We only decided only one month ago to race and were really under-prepared. Our sails are old and we broke many, many things.” A number of his crew, from the Circolo Canottieri Aniene (a sporting club in Rome), were new to sailing and to turn them into a team capable of holding their own against the likes of DSK is a true achievement, as tactician Vascotto explains, “all the guys made a real effort today. We pushed hard. We had 22 guys that are not professional at all, but at the end of the week we look to be doing the same manoeuvres as we do with professional guys. Everyone has improved and they can see this, which is our aim.”
Mick Cotter’s emphatic result with Whisper in Mini Maxi Racing/Cruising was a revelation, but had been hinted at last year’s Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup when Cotter’s crew won a sub-division prize, “it’s been a wonderful week, everything went really well. I had a great team and that’s what did it for me. We had few mistakes yesterday, but you can’t expect to go through a week’s regatta and not have a few. The conditions were ideal for us, which helped us considerably in the overall results. The crew know the boat well and the pros have got to know both us and the boat.”
As predicted, the true battle came in Mini Maxi Racing and it was fought tooth and nail between two boats – Bella Mente and Alfa Romeo. Fauth’s crew knew they had to win. Tactician Dee Smith saw to it that Bella Mente won the start at the pin end, whilst Alfa went for the committee boat end. As both yachts sailed their own race for the first leg, the first crossing was a critical moment. It went to Bella Mente and she held off her larger rival until the top of the second beat. At this point the Americans were still within a shout of victory. They were sailing so well that within the Owner/Driver category they were undoubtedly winning. With three more legs it was never going to be easy and, unfortunately for them, Alfa had no thoughts of mercy in mind. She forced her way past and then proceeded to match-race Hap Fauth’s yacht progressively out of the running. Conceding waterline length and therefore speed it was never going to end happily for Fauth. Bella Mente corrected out ahead of Alfa, but critically Andres Soriano’s Alegre (GBR) and Sir Peter Ogden’s Jethou (GBR) corrected out ahead of her. Crichton won by one point.
Crichton knew he had been in a scrap and paid due compliment to the tenacity and sailing skills of Fauth and his crew, as did his tactician, Michael Coxon, and relief helm, Ben Ainslie, who knows plenty about the need for ruthlessness in such circumstances. Crichton was thoroughly pleased with the result “we’re delighted. It was pretty tough out there today. We had to do what we had to do, and we got there in the end. They (Bella Mente) camped on us on the first beat. We finally got them back and then just sat on top of them.”
Meanwhile, Zennström and his Rán crew were able to sail their own race with the fight going on far behind. Once again, Rán took the gun and in doing so walked away with an eight-point victory over Alfa Romeo in the Min Maxi Racing 00 grouping. Zennstrom readily admitted they were flattered by the gap, which had been accentuated by the duel between the Alfa Romeo and Bella Mente.
All in all it has been an enthralling week of competition. The weather has played ball. Each day of racing has produced quality conditions and allowed the crews of the gathered maxis to strut their stuff in style. We’ll allow a newcomer to capture the sensation of racing here. Rachel Howe is the sole female navigator competing this week. Not only that, but she did so on Jethou in the intense environment of the Mini Maxi Racing group. Jethou went out on a high today, finishing the race first in Owner/Driver and second in 00. According to Howe, “this is the most prestigious event that I’ve done, the field that we’re racing in is absolutely spectacular. It’s an inspirational fleet to be part of. To get the opportunity to race against the people we’re racing against is just incredible. It is a real privilege. It’s intimidating at first, but once you are out there getting on with your job you realise everyone is pretty normal.once you see past the (Olympic) gold medals and the America’s Cups!”
The Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup 2009 heads into its final day with the division leaders poised to take their place on the victory podium. Velsheda (GBR) in Cruising/Spirit of Tradition has locked out the opposition and is unbeatable. Whisper (IRL) in Mini Maxi Racing/Cruising put one foot wrong today, but still looks to be secure. Y3K (GER) in Wally is another looking purposefully forward rather than nervously behind, while Alfa Romeo (NZL) and Bella Mente (USA) in Mini Maxi Racing (Owner/Driver) know there is all to play for. Roma (ITA) in Racing/Cruising approached the precipice of despair today and will have to have better luck tomorrow if she is not to topple over.
The Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup fleet were divided into two main groups today. One batch undertook a coastal course, whilst the other some short course racing. Most of the overnight leaders put in good or reasonable performances and even those that had difficult days did enough to maintain their positions at the head of their standings. Only in Mini Maxi Racing 00 do we have a new leader in the form of Ràn (GBR).
Cruising/Spirit of Tradition, Racing & Racing Cruising and Mini Maxi Racing/Cruising embarked on a 25-mile lap that took the yachts to a windward mark, before bearing off towards Monaci. A spinnaker run down into the channel and the turn at Secca di tre Monti was followed by a reach through Passo delle Bisce, which widened as the yachts headed on to the bottom mark of the course at Mortoriotto allowing the adventurous to set their spinnakers a second time. The final leg was a fetch back to the finish off Porto Cervo with the usual hitch into Pevero just before the line. Conditions were blissful. Bright sun, reasonable breeze that held through the majority of the course; all sailed on a chop that kept the foredeck crews nimble on their toes.
There were a number of vantage points to catch the fleet engaged on the coastal course. One of the best was certainly the rocky outcrop that is Isola dei Monaci just as the Cruising/Spirit of Tradition Class thundered past trying hard to avoid flattening the Mini Maxi Racing/Cruising, which had the fortune or misfortune, depending upon one’s viewpoint, to arrive at the same time. From a spectator’s standpoint it was just a wonderful spectacle, well worth the hassle of a flying leap from a bucking rib onto the abrasive granite piercing through the waves. Given it was lunchtime too; the timing was perfect for twenty minutes or so of entertainment.
Possibly, though, the next location was the best. At first all you see is the house pennant poking above the rock, moving as if some child is running across the uneven cliff top with a flag in hand. Slowly at first, but with gathering pace an expanse of khaki Kevlar starts to appear. Then you sense the noise, initially just the groaning strain of an easing sheet followed the sound of water being pushed dismissively aside. This is the approach of the J Class Velsheda to Capo Faro, the southern edge of the Passo delle Bisce. The highest point of Capo Ferro is 46 metres; Velsheda’s mast is 56 metres, so no contest on the height front. Except from a rib it takes a while to assimilate the information rushing towards you and to register the size of yacht involved.
In Racing & Racing/Cruising, Karl Kwok’s 80-foot Beau Geste (HKG) was first to round Monaci. She ate the course to day as if it were no more filling than an antipasti. This is a boat that flies, completing the 25 nautical mile course in 10 minutes under the two-hour mark. Beau Geste is an awe-inspiring sight from the water. On the boat it has the feeling of a powerboat, and the sensation of speed is real and enjoyable, as Francesco de Angelis, tactician onboard, explains; “I’ve sailed for many years on different, heavier boats. This is a lot of fun. She is a big boat but you sail like it’s a small one because you need the weight in the proper place and you need to manoeuvre well. But she is user-friendly and speed is your friend with this yacht. She is as surefooted as an all-wheel drive. You permanently feel under control.” Interestingly, de Angelis says the crew are still getting accustomed to her ways and how hard to push her. He does not think we have seen all of Beau Geste’s potential just yet.
Amongst the Racing/Cruising yachts, Roma-Aniene still leads the standings, after a day that saw her lose her mainsail immediately after the start. Sailing the course under storm trysail might be different, but it relegated her to the role of walking wounded and into last place in the day’s race results. DSK Pioneer Investments (ITA) took the bullet and is now level on points with Roma, but with a discard coming into play tomorrow it will take another disastrous day on Roma to deny her the title. Andrea Casale, the tactician on DSK, acknowledges the unlikelihood of securing victory, but is pleased to be putting up a fight, “we’ve had our best, cleanest and steadiest day. We had an easy life because of the problem to Roma’s mainsail just after the starting line. It’s good to go into the last race with a little chance. It is good motivation for the crew to think they could win.” In his closing remarks, Casale revealed the sporting nature of the contest this week commenting that if results do not go their way tomorrow he would be happy to see the crew of Roma win.
In the Cruising/Spirit of Tradition it was Ronald de Waal and Velsheda’s day yet again. They have wrapped up this division and have no need to sail tomorrow to win. But they will and we will be treated to another enthralling chance to watch a historic yacht charge at full tilt around the Porto Cervo racing grounds. Charles Dunstone’s Hamilton II (GBR) took second on handicap, and lies in second overnight on equal points with Hasso Plattner’s Visione (GER), which finished third. Bouwe Bekking, a six-times round the world racer in the Whitbread and Volvo is onboard Visione for the week and gave a brief insight to the differences racing a boat over twice the length of his usual steed, “first and foremost it’s a beautiful boat below and on-deck, so we have to be very careful with the sail-handling. In general, because it’s bigger we take a lot longer with manoeuvres. The biggest spinnaker is 1500 square metres and takes two-minutes to hoist and then you have to get the sock off. Dropping the spinnaker can take three-minutes. Otherwise, the boat has seven metres draft so with all the rocks it is a little nerve-racking. You do not cut any corners and take a wide berth of every rock around the course.”
Mick Cotter’s Whisper has all but sewn up Mini Maxi Racing/Cruising despite a fifth place today. Her closets rival Aegir (GBR) is five points behind and when the throw out comes into play tomorrow it will take a bigger implosion on the part of Cotter and his crew to lose their hard fought lead. Brian Benjamin, owner of Aegir, is more than satisfied though, “we’ve been coming here for four years and had our first second-place in a race on Tuesday and today bettered that with our first first-place finish. Our best overall result has been fourth, so being in second at this stage is fantastic.” Aegir will have to sail smart tomorrow. She is locked on 13-points with OPS 5 (ITA) going into the last race.
The Mini Maxi Racing Division took on two more windward/leeward courses of 10.8 miles each. The wind was northerly and around 12 knots for the first race, dropping as low as 8 knots for the second. It was a tricky day, complicated by a 1.5 metre choppy sea-state. With the breeze favouring the right side of the course and a significant current influencing the left, the strategic-planning departments at the back of each boat were on a heightened state of alert for opportunities to gain and possibilities to lose. Keeping two steps ahead was a necessary part of the game. Ràn ran away with the ball in the Overall Mini Maxi 00 Division posting two wins to Alfa Romeo’s 2, 6 score line and Niklas Zennstrom holds a three-point advantage, with a discard already in play. Robert Scheidt, Torben Grael and Nacho Postigo on Luna Rossa (ITA) made amends for yesterday’s car-crash, scoring 5, 2 to lock themselves in third place. Hap Fauth and Bella Mente lie in fourth place in 00, but in second in the all-important Owner/Driver Classification, only one-point adrift of Alfa Romeo, which had a run in with Andres Soriano’s Alegre (GBR) during the second of today’s races.
The Wally division twice took on the same windward/leeward course. Lindsay Owen Jones’ Magic Carpet (GBR) with an afterguard triumvirate of Tony Rey, Tom Whidden and Marcel van Triest put in a commanding performance to take two victories. Not enough to put her in contention for the overall prize, where Y3K’s dominance remains. Claus Peter Offen’s latest yacht looks to be as competitive as his previous and holds a five-point lead over Thomas Bscher’s Open Season (GER). Rey admitted they were turning it around a little late, but the crew were pleased with the effort, “today played to our strengths and we had two really nice results. I had a lot of confidence in the crew to get the sails up and down, so we could sail the boat assertively. We’re always looking for podium finish every time we go racing and could make the top three. Magic carpet has always had a bit of magic to it when she comes racing here and guys are all pumped to go racing tomorrow.” So watch out J One.
Whatever the conditions tomorrow and whatever the results, there will definitely be a little bit of magic on the water. Whenever a group of maxis go racing anywhere in the world it is a spectacular sight. There is just something about Porto Cervo and the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup that lifts it into a different league.
The final race takes place tomorrow, Saturday, with the first start scheduled for 11.30 CEST. The prize giving takes place tomorrow evening at 18.30 CEST on the Piazza Azzurra.
CURRENT PROVISIONAL STANDINGS Place, Boat Name, Owner, Nation, R1-R2, R3, R4, (R5, R6)*, Points (w/discard after 5 races)
Mini Maxi Racing (owner/driver)*
1. Alfa Romeo, Neville Crichton, NZL, 2-2-1-1-1-3, 7.0 points
2. Bella Mente, Hap Fauth, USA, 1-1-4-2-2-2, 8.0
3. Jethou, Peter Ogden, GBR, 3-3-2-4-4-1, 13.0
Mini Maxi (00 Class)*
1. Ran, Niklas Zennstrom, GBR, 4-2-3-2-1-1, 9.0 points
2. Alfa Romeo, Neville Crichton, NZL, 3-4-2-1-2-6, 12.0
3. Bella Mente, Hap Fauth, USA, 2- 3-7-4-4-5, 18.0
Mini Maxi Racing/Cruising
1. Whisper, Michael Cotter, IRL, 1-1-1-5, 8.0 points
2. Aegir, Brian Benjamin, GBR, 6-2-4-1, 13.0
3. Ops 5, Massimo Violati, ITA, 3-6-2-3, 14.0
Racing – Racing/Cruising
1. Beau Geste, Karl Kwok, HKG, 1-1-1-1, 4.0 points
2. Roma – Aniene, C.C. Aniene/F. Faruffini, ITA, 2-2-2-5, 11.0
3. DSK Pioneer Investments, Danilo Salsi, ITA, 3-3-3-2, 11.0
1. Roma – Aniene, C.C. Aniene/F. Faruffini, ITA, 1-1-1-4, 7.0 points
2. DSK Pioneer Investments, Danilo Salsi, ITA, 2-2-2-1, 7.0
3. Sagamore Enigma, Nicola Paoleschi, ITA, 3-4-3-2, 12.0
1. Y3K, Claus-Peter Offen, GER, 3-1-1-2-3, 10.0 points
2. Open Season, Thomas Bscher, GER, 2-3-2-6-2, 15.0
3. J One, Jean-Charles Decaux, FRA, 1-2-5-4-5, 17.0
Cruising/Spirit of Tradition
1. Velsheda, Tarbat Investment Ltd, GBR, 1-1-1-1, 4.0 points
2. Hamilton II, Lockstock Ltd, GBR, 2-4-5-2, 13.0
3. Visione, Hasso Plattner, GER, 5-3-2-3, 13.0
Day two of the 2009 Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup dawned bright and clear. Early reports from the racecourse suggested a small change in conditions from yesterday. The wind had backed a little to the north, and was blowing a fresh 15 knots, but the sea state remained large and lumpy. Happy campers this evening were Luna Rossa (ITA) in Mini Maxi Racing; Y3K (GER) in Wally; Beau Geste (HKG) in Racing & Racing Cruising; Whisper (IRL) in Mini Maxi Racing/Cruising and Velsheda (GBR) in Cruising/Spirit of Tradition.
Peter Craig and the Race Committee had little sympathy for the crew on the Racing Mini Maxis and Wallys who might have sampled too much Sardinian hospitality last night. These two divisions were sent on a 47-nautical mile jaunt up the islet and rock strewn main channel of the Maddalena archipelago to Eceuil de Lavezzi, just off the southern tip of Corsica, followed by the now familiar open-sea reach down the back of the islands, this time extending down the Costa Smeralda to Mortoriotto before heading back up to the finish off Porto Cervo. There was much the same lack of sympathy for the remaining three divisions which raced a 39-nautical mile diet-version of the course which took them up to the vaunted Eceuil before heading home round the outside, albeit without the complication of Mortoriotto.
The Racing Mini Maxis, once again the first start pathfinders, were shorn of one of their number before the day began. Udo Schutz’s Container (GER) had headed off to Olbia early this morning to be lifted out of the water to properly inspect some damage suffered yesterday. The remaining seven leapt off the start line looking alarmingly similar to a startled group of blue marlin, all threatening bowsprits to the fore. Ràn (GBR), with Tim Powell as its principal helm, shrugged off yesterday’s woe and led from start to finish, delighting owner Niklas Zennström whose only complaint was having had to hike hard for most of the course. Ràn completed the route in just over three and a half hours, but corrected out a troublesome twenty-five seconds behind Luna Rossa. Once again the Brazilian double act of Torben Grael and Robert Scheidt putting one over their immediate opposition. Hap Fauth and Bella Mente (USA) won the battle of Mini Maxi owner/drivers finishing third on the water and handicap, snuffing out a sharp-looking Neville Crichton and Alfa Romeo (NZL), which had trailed Ràn around the course.
In the Racing & Racing/Cruising Group, Karl Kwok’s Beau Geste (HKG) with Gavin Brady and Francesco de Angelis masterminding the control centre seared round the shorter of the two tracks in just under three hours, roasting the opposition in the process to correct out ahead of Filippo Faruffini’s Roma-Aniene (ITA) and Danilo Salsi’s Swan 90 DSK Pioneer Investments (ITA). This is only Kwok’s second venture into Sardinian waters and the first on his own boat. He is certainly enjoying the sailing experience, “today’s conditions were similar to yesterday’s, but there were some patches of stronger breeze. Much of the time we were at 16-17 knots which was good. The boat loves long reaching legs and we were given some of these today. We’re happy in big seas and the crew work has been no problem. We’re looking forward to the rest of the week. I’m sure the weather will stay the same, but we’re hoping that so will the wind!”
In the Wallys, Magic Carpet (GBR) strode imperiously up the initial windward leg to lead Y3K and Open Season (GER) into the top mark. At one point, all three were line abreast looking more akin to battle cruisers steaming purposefully towards a fray. Certainly the foredeck crews could be forgiven for assimilating their situation to a war zone, getting a royal hosing as these powerful craft took on the still indecently sized seas just off Porto Cervo. Y3K won through in the end, both on the water and handicap converting a four-minute lead over Magic Carpet to a narrow one-minute victory over the much smaller J One (FRA), which had finished the race some forty minutes astern. Open Season looked to have lost out to Magic Carpet by a mere four seconds for the final podium slot, until a port/starboard protest between these two led to Magic Carpet‘s disqualification rounding off a difficult two days for Lindsay Owen Jones and crew.
In the Mini Maxi Racing/Cruising, Idea might have taken the line honours gun, but it was Mick Cotter who must have kissed the Blarney Stone again this morning. According to Brian Benjamin on Aegir (GBR), the crew of Whisper put on another eloquent display of big-sea sailing through the Straits of Bonifacio where the fleet faced a stiff beat following a significant right-hand swing in the wind direction. Benjamin was home some twenty minutes after his Irish counterpart and just three and bit minutes shy on handicap, apparently Aegir‘s best performance in four years to date. Sailing with Benjamin was Royal Ocean Racing Club Commodore Andrew Mcirvine, a newcomer to yachting’s Xanadu; “I’ve sailed in most bits of the world but never here. It’s absolutely stunning. Absolutely perfect conditions and the hardware out there is incredible. It’s wonderful watching huge boats go past you and, for me, we’re on a pretty huge boat already.”
The last start of the day was by no means the least spectacular, being reserved for yachts over 100-feet. The jousting giants include not just the largest yachts at the event, but some of the prettiest with examples appealing equally to those drawn by classic looks and those by ultra-modern. The purists will be pleased by Velsheda‘s second victory in as many races and, even more so by Hetairos‘ (CAY) second place on handicap despite finishing almost an hour behind first-home Visione (GER).
Visione is a gargantuan 45 metres or just a few euros short of 150 feet. By no means the biggest sailing yacht in the world, she still grabs the spotlight here this week. Big does not necessarily mean beautiful, but underway Visione is as graceful as she is potent. From the water she is a commanding presence. From the air she is spectacular. Vast swathes of deck patrolled by ants, handling massive areas of sail. Another eye-catching yacht is the strikingly turquoise-hulled Gliss (SUI), owned by Marco Vögele. Vögele has turned to Ireland for one of his professional talent this week, hoping that Harold Cudmore – a stalwart of the grand-prix America’s and Admiral’s Cup racing scenes for some decades – would add a touch of Irish luck to his campaign. Cudmore has seen it all and more, but still finds the racing here special; “today was a cracking day, just as yesterday. Up amongst the islands with these magnificent yachts in close company; into the Strait, the wind came up a bit, we’re all under a bit of pressure, there are things happening all around and it makes for a wonderful time.”
Racing Continues through September 12