Arca SGR scores 151 Miglia-Trofeo Cetilar double
The 13th edition of the 151 Miglia-Trofeo Cetilar, fourth event in the International Maxi Association's 2022 Mediterranean Maxi Offshore Challenge, will be remembered for its unique weather conditions from flat calms to 25+ knots upwind.
Traditionally competitors leave the Livorno start and Marina di Pisa turning mark for a moderate reach across to the Giraglia rock, followed by a night hunting breeze amid calms off Corsica and Elba. However yesterday the 204 boat fleet, including 14 maxis, experienced a light departure from the mainland coast. The breeze only filled in mid-evening when the maxis were most of the way to Giraglia. It then built properly and after passing the famous rock off northeast Corsica, they saw 23-25 knots - the strongest of the race, although short lived. Unfortunately the southeasterly put them on the wind for the long leg past Elba to the southerly turning mark at Formiche di Grosseto.
This was a race that favoured the fastest and it came as little surprise that, at 0845 this morning, Furio Benussi's 100ft ARCA SGR cruised across the Punta Ala finish line to her second consecutive 151 Miglia-Trofeo Cetilar line honours victory. Her elapsed time of 18 hours 40 minutes 45 seconds was well outside the race record of 13 hours, 50 minutes and 43 seconds set by George David's Rambler 88 in 2019 and even outside her own 2021 time of 15 hours 42 minutes. But the news got better for the Trieste-based maxi as those astern slowed and stopped before Formiche di Grosseto and then struggled on the final leg to the finish. This handed ARCA SGR the IRC corrected time prize for the maxi division.
"I am really happy! We missed only the record, but that is not a problem - maybe we can get that next year!" enthused Furio Benussi. "At the beginning there was light wind, a maximum of 5 knots. When we arrived at Capraia [island between Pisa and Giraglia], we gybed back two miles to try and find the new pressure. We had 15-16 knots until Giraglia and arrived there really fast at 19 knots. After Giraglia there was 22-23 knots, gusting to 25 and we were upwind, but [navigator] Lorenzo Bressani did a really nice job and we got all of the shifts."
But the key reason for ARCA SGR's victory came from being 18.5 miles ahead on the water of second placed Spirit of Lorina, Frenchman Jean-Pierre Barjon's Botin Partners designed 65 footer, at the last turning mark. "When we arrived at Formiche there were seven knots and then we got the land breeze of 14 knots which we held until the finish," continued Benussi. As ARCA SGR crossed the finish those astern still had more than 26 miles to go in substantially weaker conditions.
For this last phase of the race Aldo Parisotto, owner of OSCAR 3 could do little but watch. Approaching Formiche di Grosseto his Mylius 65 FD had been leading the maxi class under IRC corrected time, but then... "we stopped for maybe one hour 20 minutes. The last part was very difficult. We led coming into Formiche but everyone behind caught up. We thought ARCA SGR would pay because of their [huge] rating difference, but in the end they only went through two transitions, not three..." said Parisotto.
Until then OSCAR 3's race had been going well. They had done well in the first transition into the new breeze en route to Giraglia and had seen 27 knots at the rock. "That was amazing! But the boat was perfect and we didn't break anything." Then upwind to Elba as conditions abated, they had hoped to be lifted around the island but in the end went through another transition, albeit shorter. "It was like elastic this race: we'd get away then those behind would catch up," summarised Parisotto. OSCAR 3 ended up second overall, her time correcting out to 38 minutes behind ACRA SGR with Giancarlo Gianni's heavily campaigned Carroll Marine 60 Durlindana 3 third.
In only his second race with his new-to-him Spirit of Lorina, Jean-Pierre Barjon was pleased to have finished second on the water, albeit 5 hours 36 minutes astern of ARCA SGR, and fifth under IRC behind Guido Paolo Gamucci's canting keel Mylius 60 Cippa Lippa X.
"For most of the night we were very happy. The sailing was incredible, because we had good wind and the boat performed very well," said Barjon. "But at around 0300-0400 we had no wind and everyone caught us up. So for a long time we were first. It was frustrating!"
Race founder, sponsor and International Maxi Association Vice President Roberto Lacorte raced on board ARCA SGR. He concluded: "I am happy because this is the first 151 Miglia post-pandemic. It is very important that all the events around the regatta are unrestricted, like the Crew Party and the Dinner Party tomorrow. It is good to be back to normal."
Tomorrow sees the formal unveiling of Lacorte's radical 60ft foiler Flying Nikka, before one of the top social events of the international yachting calendar, the 151 Miglia-Trofeo Cetilar's Dinner Party in the grounds of the Yacht Club Punta Ala. The YCPA is one of the event's organisers alongside the Yacht Club Repubblica Marinara di Pisa and Yacht Club Livorno. The race is supported by the main sponsor Cetilar®, a brand of the pharmaceutical company PharmaNutra S.p.A., by the Official Timekeeper TAG Heuer and by partners Benetti Yachts, Port of Livorno 2000, Plastimo and PROtect Tapes.