Rolex Maxi 72 World Championship competition on today's coastal course
Hat trick for Momo, Lyra scores two bullets at Rolex Maxi day 3
For day three of the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup and Rolex Maxi 72 World Championship, it was the turn of the Wally class to sail windward-leewards, while the rest of the maxi yacht classes were sent on an anti-clockwise lap of the La Maddalena archipelago. In northeasterly to easterly winds that rarely exceeded 10 knots, the bigger classes sailed a 34.5 mile course while the Mini Maxis raced 3.5 miles less, missing out Isla Plana at the top of the course. Since 1980, this event has been the highlight of the maxi yacht calendar, run by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda in conjunction with the International Maxi Association, the officially-recognised body that promotes maxi yacht racing globally.
Today the Maxi 72s were first away, with an upwind leg followed by a broad reach up the seaward side of the Costa Smeralda’s spectacular off-lying island chain, before returning south with a dog-leg around Monaci before heading on to the finish.
Dieter Schön’s MOMO led around the top mark and remained clear ahead for the remainder of the race to finish 2:52 ahead of George Sakelaris’ Proteus (ex-Ran V) under IRC corrected time.
One of the top performances of the day came from Peter Harrison’s Sorcha (ex-Ran II), which until Isla Plana was holding second, the 10 year old Maxi 72 ultimately claiming third in the six-strong fleet. “She is a good boat and we have good sailors on board,” said Harrison, racing his first ever Rolex Maxi 72 World Championship this week. As to why Sorcha had managed to punch above her weight, Harrison attributed this partly to their flying their Code 0, rather than their spinnaker, on the run. “I’m really pleased, overall it was fine. It was nice tacking in flat water and we managed to stay out of the way of My Song [Pier Luigi Loro Piana’s colossal Baltic 130 stormed through the fleet, overtaking all but MOMO on the water].”
Sailing on board is navigator Steve Hayles who was part of the original Ran II crew, winner of the World Championship here in 2010, 2011 and 2013. Since then the boat has gone from 4.8 to 5.4m draft and has a new rig. “This is one of my favourite boats and she has a super owner and a good bunch of people on board.” Hayles was surprised they did so well in the reaching conditions which favoured the more powerful, modern Maxi 72s. They had made “a little error” at the top which had let Proteus though.
Impressively - for the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup is not just his first regatta on his new boat, but his first regatta ever - Terry Hui, who acquired the Wally 77 Lyra only in July, won both windward-leewards in the Wally class. The first they claimed by an incredible five minutes 10 seconds under IRC. “That was a bit of luck,” admitted tactician Hamish Pepper. “The breeze shifted aggressively on the first beat and we were on the right side of it and the Wallycentos weren’t. It was quite tricky conditions - 7-10 knots and the breeze was shifting quite a bit, but we managed to sail the boat well and be in the right spot on a couple of occasions.”
According to Pepper, Hui, a Chinese Canadian based in Vancouver, received some training before the regatta and has been picking up his brand new sport well, helped by an all-star crew, including several fresh from the Volvo Ocean Race, such as Andrew Cape and Phil Harmer. “Terry’s a bit gobsmacked we are doing as well as we are. It is a credit to the team,” concluded Pepper.
In the Supermaxi class, it all came down to the start and the first beat. Velsheda got away reasonably, starting close to the pin, and made gains on the left side of the initial upwind leg. “We wanted the left side,” explained tactician Tom Dodson. “The wind was supposed to go right, but there was more pressure offshore and we ended up getting into that and that’s what got us into the lead.” From there, it was largely reaching and J Class rivals Svea and Topaz were unable to make any impression on Velsheda, until the final beat back to Monaci. “The second last leg was pretty awkward and we had to squeeze around a couple of shallow places there,” admitted Dodson. Nonetheless Velsheda ended up claiming the Supermaxi win today by 1:30 from Topaz, with Svea third.
In the Maxi class it was the turn of the former My Song, now Miguel Galuccio’s Vera, on which Volvo Ocean Race veteran Bouwe Bekking is calling tactics, to prevail, but by just 2:42 under IRC corrected time from Massimiliano Florio’s Southern Wind 82 Grande Orazio.
“We had a very nice day – it was a good result,” said Florio, explaining that: “There weren’t many manoeuvres and not much tactics, so it was difficult to do better than the newer, lighter boats. We prefer a much more technical race.” Nonetheless Grande Orazio now holds a two point lead over Vera after two races.
In Mini Maxi Group 1 it was the turn of Aldo Parisotto's Mylius 65 FD Oscar 3 to win ahead of Roberto Lacorte's Supernikka, with Peter Dubens' Frers 60 Spectre ahead on the water. To win a race in this, just his second occasion at the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, Parisotto and his crew (including recently crowned J/24 World Champion Andrea Casale) were delighted. “It was fantastic. The racing is at a very high level and we managed to maintain a good distance on our competitors,” Parisotto explained. He added that at one point they had even managed to get ahead of Carlo Puri Negri’s Atalanta II, rated 40 points higher than her. “Downwind today was amazing because we used our A0 and our speed was 11-12 knots.”
In the Mini Maxi Group 2 Riccardo de Michele's Vallicelli 80 H2O scored her second bullet of the regatta with Guiseppe Puttini's Swan 65 Shirlaf once again second.
Racing continues tomorrow with the Mini Maxi classes sailing windward-leewards and further coastal courses for the remainder.
Tonight the International Maxi Association celebrates with its annual dinner held at the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda at which the 2017 IMA Yacht of the Year and the winner of the 2017-18 IMA Mediterranean Maxi Offshore Challenge will be announced.