ANTIGUA, WEST INDIES (February 24, 2017) – Bella Mente Racing, led by owner/driver Hap Fauth, launched its 2017 campaign season with a major victory this week, winning IRC Overall, CSA Overall and CSA 1 at the RORC Caribbean 600 in Antigua; The team took home the coveted RORC Caribbean 600 Trophy for the IRC win as well as the Bella Mente Trophy, the team’s namesake award, for being the first IRC yacht to finish that is wholly manually powered. The 600-mile offshore race hosted a record number of competitors for its 2017 edition, with over 80 yachts hitting the waters off Antigua, but it was the battle between Bella Mente and rival Maxi 72 Proteus that took the spotlight. The yachts dueled up until the very end, with the lead switching hands on several occasions. After over two days at sea, Bella Mente ultimately prevailed, crossing the finish line on Wednesday, February 22 at 4:51 p.m. (AST), ahead of Proteus.
“This is such an important event for our campaign each year so it was just the best to be able to come back swinging,” said Fauth adding that this year’s RORC Caribbean 600 win was exceptionally sweet for the team, which came to the event last year hoping to defend its 2015 IRC Overall win, but were forced to retire halfway into racing due to keel troubles. “We’re looking forward to the rest of our 2017 season and ultimately the Rolex Maxi 72 World Championships in Sardinia. That is what the whole season is focused on from here.
“It was a very hard fought win. Over the course of the race, the team performed 85 sail changes and all but one were executed perfectly. The crew gave a 120 percent and we got a victory out of it – a crew and afterguard-driven victory.”
The Bella Mente Racing Team after winning IRC Overall at the 2017 RORC Caribbean 600 (left) and Owner/Driver Hap Fauth accepting the RORC Caribbean 600 Trophy (right)
(Photo Credit Left: RORC/Ted Martin / Photo Credit Right: RORC/ELWJ Photography)
The 600-mile race circumnavigates 11 Caribbean islands, starting its fleet off Fort Charlotte in Antigua and then taking it north up to Barbuda and around Nevis, St. Kitts, St. Eustatius, Saba, St. Barth and St. Martin before heading south for Guadeloupe. From there, the fleet returns to Barbuda and rounds Redonda before finishing back in Antigua.
“Our playbook was pretty extensive for this race with this being our fifth RORC Caribbean 600 racing Bella Mente, however it was based on the trade winds blowing as they normally do this time of year,” said the team’s offshore helmsman Mike Sanderson adding that though the RORC Caribbean 600 racecourse was the same as previous years, the fleet experienced a completely different wind direction, which changed the tactics and dynamic onboard. That, coupled with intense competition with Proteus, made for an extremely tough race. “This year the wind conditions did a 180 in comparison to previous years, which made for an entirely different race. For me, that was the best part of this year’s event. It’s always great to have a new challenge because it means we really have to do our homework to prepare for the race. When we got out there on the course, everything looked so different going around the track even though we were in familiar surroundings.”
Tactician Terry Hutchinson added, “It was an absolute battle all the way through. Proteus got the better of us in the pre-start and on the first leg up to Barbuda, but we did a good job of keeping it close, and one rain shower later we were bow-to-stern with the Maxi 72. For the next 450 miles we were tied to the hip. Proteus held the lead through to La Désirade (off Guadeloupe), but when we started on the 90-mile leg back to Barbuda, Bella Mente’s upwind speed shined and we were able to slip around Proteus and extend. From Barbuda to the finish we were constantly looking over our shoulder; our lead never felt big enough and we were preparing for one more parking lot with no breeze on the racecourse ahead. In true Bella Mente form, a couple of slick sail changes at the end of our 53 hours on the water got us across the finish line.”
When asked how he thought the team performed for their first event of the season, Hutchinson responded, “The team fared well, but we have a lot of work to do. The competition this season is very good, and so like in 2016 we need to apply a consistent process to our performance and development, and allow Bella Mente’s number one resource, our people, to perform.”
Bella Mente will compete in one more event in the Caribbean, Les Voiles de. St. Barth in April, before the yacht is shipped across the Atlantic to race in Mallorca, Spain for the Palma Vela in May. The team will then relocate to Corfu, Greece for the inaugural Corfu Challenge in July and return to Mallorca for the Copa del Rey MAPFRE later that month. The season culminates with its final and most significant event, the Rolex Maxi 72 World Championship in Porto Cervo, Italy in September.
Known throughout the world under the pseudonym of Kongo, street artist Cyril Phan will be in St. Barth in April. His arrival ties in perfectly with the wishes of the organizers of the Les Voiles de St. Barth through the creation of an event that combines sport, lifestyle and friendliness, where art has its rightful place. “Getting artists involved in the event is part of the DNA of Les Voiles de St. Barth, and we’ve entrusted the creation of several posters to artists over previous editions,” explained François Tolède, Organizing Director of Les Voiles de St. Barth. “We’ve offered Kongo the chance to create a piece on the theme of the sea and Les Voiles de St. Barth.”
“Since 1991, I have lived in Guadeloupe for half of each year. The Caribbean is a massive source of inspiration to me,” explained Phan. “My presence at Les Voiles de St. Barth this year is the result of a meeting I had with François Tolède last summer. He suggested I give a performance on a sail, which will subsequently be auctioned off for charity. Painting on a sail is something new for me, even though I’m used to painting pretty much anywhere. It’s going to be intriguing to do my thing within the context of Les Voiles de St. Barth.” Moreover, it’s a work that may well appear on the poster for the 2017 edition of the Caribbean sailing event.
Though he does not sail himself, this traveling enthusiast is delighted at the prospect of coming to St. Barth in the spring. “I’ll paint the sail live in front of a public audience during the regatta,” said Phan. “I love discovering other worlds. Three months ago I discovered the world of aviation, which involved painting a plane, and I’m continuing to explore the world of aeronautics through several collaborations, one of which is with the Fondation St Exupéry, he continues. The world of sailors strikes a logical chord with me and my own journey. It’s a thrilling world, filled with people who are passionate about what they do. Sharing my passion with them and discovering what makes them tick is bound to be an enriching experience.”
Kongo, an artist with multiple influences
Born in 1969 to a Vietnamese father and a French mother, Cyril “Kongo” Phan arrived in France as a political refugee back in April 1975 after the fall of Saigon. After a childhood spent in the South of France with his grandparents, in the early 80s he headed off to Brazzaville in the Congo, to join his mother. It is here that he discovered a passion for art. “I have friends there who were just back from New York and introduced me to hip hop. I was immediately drawn in by the dance and the music, but more as a spectator rather than an actor,” says the man for whom drawing has always been a primary mode of expression. It was not until he returned to France that he discovered an interest for graffiti. “I was lucky enough to meet the people creating the graffiti and the drawings and they got me into it,” he recalls. Banding together, they created the MAC group. “Graffiti arrived in France with the hip hop movement after the stencilists. Back then we were just a group of kids from Le Faubourg St. Antoine. There were only 100 or 200 street artists who essentially geared themselves towards the microcosm of graffiti. We began by tagging walls, living in the moment. Nothing was planned. Today, there are thousands.” The frescos they painted on big walls meant that the group gained renown across France as well as internationally. “We were invited to paint in Europe and in the United States, which brought us in touch with the entire international graffiti scene at the time. That fuelled my lust for travel, which has always been part and parcel of my life.”
During a trip to Asia, Kongo met the director of the Asian branch of the Hermès fashion label, which was to mark the artist’s first steps in the luxury market. “He gave me the opportunity to paint the window of the Hermès shop at Hong Kong airport. The shop window proved to be a tremendous success, to the extent that the parent company in France invited me to reinterpret its famous silk scarf by creating the ‘graff.’ It was an incredible opportunity to work on such a fashion icon.” In the space of two months, the collection had sold out across the world. “This adventure, that began with a meeting and went on to nourish both our worlds, demonstrated that the luxury environment is not so far removed from that of graffiti as they both reference travel, handwork and singularity.”
Now recognized as one of the world’s key figures on the graffiti scene and a man capable of developing his practice to achieve genuine artistic maturity, Kongo continues to exhibit his works right around the globe, while collaborating with prestigious companies, such as French crystalware manufacturer Daum, for whom he is making a crystal sculpture. “I’m very interested in French expertise, which I’m trying to retranslate through a graphic vocabulary.”
First to start the 2016 RORC Caribbean 600: CSA, IRC 2 and IRC 3 – Credit: RORC/Tim Wright
IRC 1 and Class40 fleet at the start of the 8th RORC Caribbean 600 Race – Credit: RORC/Tim Wright
|The IRC Zero and IRC Canting Keel fleet made an impression at the start of the RORC Caribbean 600 – Credit: RORC/Emma Louise Wyn Jones|
The magnificent three-masted schooner Adix at the start – Credit: RORC/Tim Wright
Phaedo3 flying two hulls past Willoughby Bay, Antigua – Credit: RORC/Tim Wright
Hundreds of spectators watched the start of the 8th RORC Caribbean 600 from ashore and on the water Credit: RORC/Tim Wright
Bella Mente, Open Season, H20, Supernikka, Windfall and Inoui division winners
Porto Cervo, 12 September 2015. Eighteen knots of scirocco wind and a rip-roaring race around the islands on the final day of the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup & Rolex Maxi 72 World Championship provided the perfect end to a superlative week of competition in Porto Cervo. The 26th edition of the event, which attracted a fleet of 40 yachts ranging from 18 to 66 metres in length, was organized by Yacht Club Costa Smeralda together with title sponsor Rolex and the International Maxi Association.
Hap Fauth’s Bella Mente, with a bullet and a third place in today’s two windward-leeward races, was crowned Rolex Maxi 72 World Champion 2015. The American team which boasts Terry Hutchinson on tactics managed to whisk victory from the grasp of Roberto Tomasini Grinover with his Robertissima III by just one point. Dieter Schön’s Momo claimed third place in her debut on the waters of the Costa Smeralda.
“It was just fantastic,” enthused a delighted Hap Fauth, “The level of competition was so high and everyone had fun. We had a great time and the organization and hospitality was excellent.”
At the conclusion of a coastal course of approximately 30 nautical miles Marco Vogele’s 33-metre Inoui was able to celebrate her victory over Viriella and Hetairos respectively in the Supermaxi division. Newly elected IMA President Thomas Bscher was also celebrating in the Wally division as his Open Season rounded off a week of near-perfect results with a second place in today’s race to claimed overall victory in the Wally division. After a fierce battle for second place throughout the week, Magic Carpet Cubed, owned by Sir Lindsay Owen Jones, took the silver prize with J One in third place on equal points.
The record-breaking 100-foot Comanche, owned by Jim Clark and Kristy Hinze-Clark, gave spectacular performances throughout the week and word is she will be joined by several more pure racing machines for the next edition of the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup.
In the Maxi division, which together with the Mini Maxis completed a slightly shorter coastal course, The Southern Wind yacht Windfall, owned by Michael Cotter claimed the Rolex prize and timepiece. Following an event-long leadership battle, Masimiliano Florio’s Grande Orazio Pioneer Investments had to settle for second place, just one point behind. The Swan 77 Tugela rounded off the podium finishers.
Thanks to a victory in today’s race Riccardo di Michele’s H2O managed to beat Shirlaf on countback as both yachts finished with the same score. Third place in the Mini Maxi RC/SOT division went to Wallyño.
The Mini Maxi Racing Division saw Roberto Lacorte’s 2015-launched Supernikka perform consistently well throughout the week to take first place overall ahead of Britain’s Spectre and Maximilian Klink’s Caro.
“It may seem redundant to say that this was a wonderful event – the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup is always a highlight of our sporting calendar – however this 26th edition of the regatta was truly exceptional.” Commented YCCS Commodore Riccardo Bonadeo “The fleet, the owners and the crews were all of an incredibly high standard and mother nature stepped in to provide almost perfect conditions.”
Looking forward to the next Maxi event Bonadeo continued “The conclusion of a perfect event seems the perfect time to invite you all, if you haven’t already done so, to enrol for the very first edition of the Maxi Yacht Rolex Caribbean Cup taking place in April 2016 at our Caribbean home in Virgin Gorda where we are lucky enough to have another beautiful regatta course and constant trade winds.”
The YCCS calendar in the Mediterranean continues with the Sailing Champions League final which will see teams from across Europe and beyond competing on J70 boats from 18th to 20th September.
See all the results HERE
Wallys and Comanche (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)
|Today’s single race for each of 10 classes sailing at Les Voiles de St. Barth determined overall winners and marked the fourth and final day of the regatta. The event has been growing steadily since its inception in 2010 and hosted 70 boats in this sixth edition, all with their own brand of famous sailors aboard from around the world. Boats competing ranged from speedy multihulls such as Lloyd Thornburg’s Mod 70 Phaedo 3 to technologically sophisticated new-builds such as George David’s Rambler 88 and Jim and Kristy Hinze-Clarke’s Comanche (at 100 feet, one of the largest boats here) to the more traditional grand prix racers in the 50-70 foot range and smaller racing/cruising boats. There was even a one design class for Melges 24s (the smallest boats competing) that are as fun, physical and demanding in teamwork and skill as their larger counterparts.|
|While teams in six classes had clinched their overall victories yesterday (some did not have to sail today’s last race but chose to do so anyway), four classes went down to the wire in 15-20 knot winds that were stronger than yesterday’s but not as strong as on the first two days of racing (Tuesday and Wednesday, April 14-15).
“It was a very interesting race course,” said Lupa of London’s winning skipper Jeremy Pilkington (UK) about his Maxi 2 class’s 28 nautical mile course. It started off Gustavia and went in the opposite direction from days before, wrapping around the western end of St. Barth before using buoys, rocks and islands as waypoints and turning marks on an oblong windward-leeward course set in the Atlantic Ocean. “There was much more going on today than there was on the courses that were set earlier in the week, so it kept us busy. We had a few little challenges and a few ups and downs going around, but we were very pleased with how we did. We had to finish top-three and were assuming that Selene was going to win on handicap, and we did a little bit better than that.” (On corrected time, Selene indeed won, and Lupa of London placed second today to secure the class victory overall.)
In the Spinnaker 2 class, which sailed a shorter version (23 nautical mile) of the 28 miler, Ramanessin, chartered by Germany’s Christian Zugel, had to watch itself against El Ocaso and Ventarron, since they were all one point apart going into today.
“Today it was very tight. We started with one point up, so if we had finished second today we would not have won,” said Zugel. “Right at the start line we were lined up very nicely, but one boat came from the left on the port side and hit us, so you can see some pretty big scratches on the front of our boat but luckily no further damage. We decided to keep going and managed to win.” This is Zugel’s third time at the event, and he has chartered a different boat each time. Like many others here, his crew is quite international so it’s hard to really say the boat is a German entrant. “I’m German but live in the U.S., and I am crewing with a team of Irish and English sailors who have sailed all over the world, so it is a great experience for us all to be here.”
Claude Granel’s Martinique entry Martinique Premiere-Credit Mutuel won today’s race in Spinnaker 4 (sailing a 17 nautical mile course) to secure overall class victory after going into today with a slim lead. His closest competitor from yesterday, Maelia, slipped to third in the overall standings while Zarafa wound up second. “It was a very tough race, and at the end we just won the race by one second,” said Granel. “What was very difficult was that two team members could not race today, so we went from seven to five onboard, and it was windy – much windier than we thought it would be – but it turned out to be a great race for us.”
James Blakemore’s South African entry Music, in Spinnaker 3, posted another first today to add to his three others from the three previous racing days. “The race was great today – good steady breeze between 16 to 20 knots and great sea conditions,” said Blakemore. “My guys sailed the boat really well; we got off to a really great start, and from the first weather mark, I don’t think we lost the lead in our class from then on. Every day has been good for us. Yesterday the conditions were a bit tough because we were dealing with the squalls coming through and very light breezes, but fortunately we got through just in time, before the boats really came to a halt. We’ve really thoroughly enjoyed ourselves this week. It’s fantastic coming here; it’s a fantastic regatta.”
Spinnaker 0’s winner Vesper (Jim Swartz, U.S.) finished the regatta with all first-place finishes in the five races it sailed over the four days of racing. “You go into these regattas where you’re in good shape going into the last day, but there is only one way to sail these boats and that is at 100 percent,” said Vesper‘s tactician Gavin Brady about the fact his team didn’t need to sail today in order to win. “Today we pushed as hard as every other day, which is the best thing for the boat and the best thing for the team.”
It was a different sort of day on the left side of the island, because more time was spent negotiating wind shifts in flat waves, making it more tactical than on the right-hand side where the fleets had sailed for the previous three race days.
Lloyd Thornburg’s U.S. entry in Multihull class, Phaedo 3, spent its regatta leaving the seven other Multihull class entries in its wake and won again today for a fourth time over four races. “It was a great event,” said Thornburg, who on Wednesday established the Multihull record for a newly introduced 43-mile course that will be repeated here each year. (Comanche and Odin established the records for Maxi 1 and Maxi 2 classes, respectively) “Today the wind came back, which was nice, whereas yesterday was a little bit light for us. For our boat, this was the most challenging course, so it was a lot of fun.”
Not so much fun was Gunboat G4 Timbalero III’s dramatic capsize today. No one was injured, and the brand-new foiling catamaran was righted within two hours.
Puerto Rican entrant Lazy Dog, skippered by Sergio Sagramoso, also added another victory to his score line of all firsts to win Spinnaker 1 class. “Racing was a lot of fun today, and the start was incredibly critical. There were four classes (on the line), around 40 boats, so it was probably the hairiest start I’ve ever done. The first start was a general recall; the second start, our main competitor (Hamachi) was hit, so it was pretty dramatic. But we had a great time, and the conditions suited us. It was beautiful like usual. We’ll be back next year; great racing and hands down the best organization we’ve ever seen.”
Bobby Velasquez (St. Martin), winner of Non-Spinnaker class in L’esperance, agreed: It’s wonderful here in St. Barth, and it’s a wonderful organization. We’ll definitely be back for the regatta again next year.” L’esperance had nothing but bullets in its score line.In Melges 24s, the St. Martin team of Budget Marine GILL topped the leaderboard. Skipper Andrea Scarabelli said, “This is one of the events we love the most. Racing in one-design is always nice because you are racing at a similar pace. The goal is to keep building the Melges 24 class. This year we were only four boats, but we hope to get more.”
The event’s largest, fastest boats sailed in Maxi 1 class, and it was George David’s Rambler 88 that won the four-race series there. All eyes had been on Rambler 88 and the larger Comanche during the first two race days, since no one had yet seen the two boats sail against each other. The powerful Comanche showed blazingly fast speed, taking line honors in every race. It was Rambler 88, however, that prevailed with corrected-time performances that gave the team three first-place finishes in a row. By today, when Rambler 88 took second to Hap Fauth’s U.S. entry Bella Mente, the focus had returned to who was doing the best on ratings. Rambler 88 maintained its place at the top of the scoreboard, but Bella Mente was able to replace Lucky as runnerup. Bella Mente, Lucky and Comanche had all shared the same point score after today’s race, but Bella Mente’s performance handed the tiebreaker to their team.
“I’m very happy,” said David. “I think we sailed very well to rating, and we are just a click off Comanche. Of course, they have the big-boat edge and get in front, and that tends to help a little bit, but I am impressed by how fast we are. In fact, I’m very impressed. This boat is wicked quick and I think we’ll do even better in the future. I don’t count us out for records, including the Transatlantic Race 2015 this summer, which we hold already (with Rambler 100).”
At the prize giving, Principal Event Partner Richard Mille presented George David, who also was the overall winner of the Maxi division, with a Richard Mille Caliber RM 60-01 Regatta watch.FULL RESULTS: https://app.regattaguru.com/lesvoiles/100085/results
2015 Entry List: www.lesvoilesdesaintbarth.com
A record 189 teams competed in the 160th New York Yacht Club Annual Regatta presented by Rolex this weekend. The event is the oldest regatta in the country and was challenged by near-drifting conditions at times. Nevertheless, the breezes cooperated better for the final day of racing and winners were named in 19 classes. Among the star-studded gathering of sailors was Australian John Bertrand sailing in Etchells class. He is best known for winning the America’s Cup here in 1983, breaking the New York Yacht Club’s hold on the trophy for 132 years.
Though light, shifty winds had an unusual stronghold on this year’s 160th New York Yacht Club Annual Regatta presented by Rolex, most of the 189 teams competing knew how to take it all in stride. In particular, Doug and Dick DeVos, brothers from Grand Rapids, Mich., couldn’t have asked for a better Father’s Day gift than getting to sail with their sons, Dalton (22) and Ryan (age 23), respectively, on separate boats and against each other in the Melges 32 class.
“My brother and I grew up sailing with our father on his yacht Windquest,” said Dick DeVos, “and he always felt like he was working for us, because we were the ones pushing the program and he was the one sitting on the rail. Doug or I would be driving, and we thought ‘this is a pretty good deal!’” Laughing, DeVos added, “Now our sons have turned it around on us, and they’re driving; it doesn’t seem as good of a deal as it was when I was a kid…I might be the oldest guy on the rail of a Melges 32 at this point!”
After adding one race to the single races sailed on Friday and Saturday, Doug and Dalton DeVos finished with a second overall on Delta, while Dick and Ryan DeVos finished third with their boat Volpe. (Winning the class with all firsts was Argo, steered by Jason Carroll, who is a Melges 32 World Champion and two-time defending National Champion.)
“Sailing with Dad is a lot of fun,” said Dalton, the son of Doug DeVos. “Sometimes it’s hard with his work schedule to get all of us on the boat at the same time, but when we do, there’s nothing better. That was the whole point of starting the program, to sail together, and when we can sail with Uncle Dick and Ryan, as well, it makes it that much better. It’s a two-boat program.”
Another father-son team could be found sailing on Erbil Arkin’s Turkish entry Tempus Fugit. The 90-foot Spirit of Tradition yacht Rob and his son Tom Humphries, who said the yacht “leans on history, but has its own DNA.”
And not to leave moms out of the picture, Terrapin, the Andrews 68 that finished eighth overall in Class 7 ORR (won by the Pearson 39 Simpatico), sails with pink jerseys, hats, and a bow painted on its hull, raising awareness for breast cancer research. Its owner Jon Litt explained: “For my 50th birthday, my crew asked me what I wanted from them and I suggested giving to cancer research rather than buying me something. (Litt’s mom has been battling breast cancer for 10 years.) They did better than that and launched a campaign in May to raise $50,000 for my 50th; in three weeks we have raised $54,000!”
“The weather has been challenging,” said James Madden, owner of the Swan 60 Stark Raving Mad, who counts this as his seventh Annual Regatta and today rose to second behind the Ker 43 Otra Vez in IRC 3 class, pushing yesterday’s leader Spookie back to fourth. “Friday was flukey (in the Around the Island Race, which doesn’t count toward the weekend series), and yesterday it was non-existent at times, so it was looking a lot better this morning. “
Sailors were greeted on the docks with a brisk northerly, but it didn’t hold steady throughout the day, resulting in another “glass-off” (as Madden called it) for boats in the ORR class and three PHRF classes sailing Navigators Courses in northern Narragansett Bay. But while many boats in those classes were not able to finish within their time limits, several boats in other classes made notable gains on the scoreboard after adding today’s single race to one sailed yesterday.
They included the Mini Maxi 72 Bella Mente, which displaced the 90-foot Rambler at the top of the scoreboard in IRC Class 1; The IRC 52 Hooligan, which picked off Interlodge and Sled to take first place overall in IRC 2; and the Sydney 43 Christopher Dragon, which replaced yesterday’s leader, the X-41 Pendragon, in IRC 4.
The Etchells class, which got in no races yesterday, left the docks early today, but still only completed one race, which left race winner Bruce Golison’s Midlife Crisis as the class winner.
In the end it was all about the experience, no matter who you were. “This is a sensational venue,” said Dick DeVos, “and there’s something special about Newport. I remember the first time I came here when 12 Metres were warming up for the America’s Cup. For me, as a kid growing up loving sailing, it was a sacred moment to come to Newport for the first time and be a part of this community that is so oriented to sailing.”
The New York Yacht Club Annual Regatta presented by Rolex is the oldest regatta in the country, and this year’s event has entered the history books as the largest Annual Regatta on record. Engraved overall trophies in each class were given at tonight’s (Sunday) Rolex Awards Party. Rolex also awards a timepiece to the overall winner (determined by the organizers) of Saturday’s and Sunday’s combined series of races, which officially constitutes the 160th New York Yacht Club Annual Regatta presented by Rolex. This special prize, as well as the Great Corinthian Trophy for yacht club teams of three or more boats posting the best class finishes, will be awarded at the Annual Awards Dinner, held on November 13 at the New York Yacht Club’s main clubhouse in New York City.
A fleet of 34 international Maxi yachts are braced for tomorrow’s start to competitive action at the 2012 Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, held in Porto Cervo, Sardinia. Five days of racing are scheduled for the 23rd edition of this annual contest, open to Maxi yachts upwards of 18.29 metres. Boats representing fourteen different countries make up the entry list from the smallest competitor – the 18.30m Mini Maxi @robas (FRA) – to the gigantic 66m Supermaxi Hetairos (CY). A stunning spectacle is always guaranteed when the world’s most technologically impressive Maxis lock horns in the challenging and scenic racecourses offered by the Costa Smeralda and the Maddalena Archipelago.
Ever since its inception in 1980, the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup has represented a rare for opportunity for Maxi yachts to engage exclusively in direct competition. It has also been synonymous with the latest developments in yacht design and technology. 2012 is no exception as three eagerly-anticipated new launches prepare to make their bow: Charles Dunstone’s 30.47m Wally Hamilton(GBR) and two new entries in the intriguing Mini Maxi Rolex World Championship: Hap Fauth’s 21.94m Bella Mente (USA) and the similarly sized Stig (ITA), owned by Alessandro Rombelli.
Edoardo Recchi, Sporting Director of event organizer the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda (YCCS), believes a vintage edition is in store, revealing: “We are very happy to have a fleet of 34 boats with a number sailing here for the first time. The Mini Maxi Rolex World Championship, in particular, will be very competitive because all the Mini Maxis are, from a certain point of view, as good as new, with many having changed keels or rigs.” As Recchi confirms, the week will be a test of each crew’s resolve and endurance: “For the Maxis and Supermaxis five coastal races are planned and for the Mini Maxis and Wallys there will be three coastal races and four windward/leeward races.” Tomorrow, coastal races are scheduled for the event’s five classes (Maxi Racing, Maxi Racing/Cruising, Mini Maxi, Supermaxi and Wally).
A number of this season’s most successful boats are in attendance. Sir Peter Ogden’s 18.90m Mini Maxi Jethou (GBR) triumphed in May’s Rolex Volcano Race; Filip Balcaen’s 34.13m Nilaya (GBR) won line honours at that same event and returns to Porto Cervo to defend her Supermaxi class title. Igor Simcic’s 30.48m Esimit Europa 2 (SLO) has enjoyed a stellar year, smashing the race record at the recent Giraglia Rolex Cup before arriving in Sardinia in style, setting a new fastest time between Monte Carlo and Porto Cervo.
The third running of the Mini Maxi Rolex World Championship is likely to be one of the week’s most eye-catching contests. The previous two editions have been claimed by the 21.91m Rán 2 (GBR). Niklas Zennström’s fully professional crew start off as favourites, but the competition will be determined and races decided by the merest fractions. Strength in depth across the Championship is provided by the revamped Jethou, George Sakellaris’ 21.80m Shockwave (USA), Stig and the 21.01m Caol Ila R (USA), the former Alegre – second place finishers in 2010 and 2011 – as Alex Schärer and his crew make the transition from their racer/cruiser of the same name.
Brand-new Bella Mente (USA), counting on the expertise of 2006 ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Mike Sanderson, concedes nothing to Rán 2 in terms of length although the crew have the challenge of tackling the competition for the first time. “We’re really excited,” remarks Sanderson. “The Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup is one of the great events on the calendar, where the fascination is seeing all of the hardware together – a collection of amazing boats in terms of power and sail.” Sanderson is expecting a baptism of fire: “In the Mini Maxi class, the level is very high. The other guys currently have a bit more refinement and finesse including Rán who are a very polished act with a very consistent crew.”
Navigators are facing a difficult time predicting what the week’s weather will provide: “The forecast is really tricky,” confirms Sanderson. “There is a low settling off to the west of Sardinia. Some forecasts are saying 50 knots and others five! So we are in for a pretty changeable week.”
The Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup is organized by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda and the International Maxi Association, prestigious organizations with close ties to Rolex. A first-class social programme is in store, including the Rolex Crew Party and the final Prize-Giving Ceremony, where the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cups and Rolex timepieces will be presented to the winners.
Sunday, 2 September
Inspections, registration and briefing
Monday, 3 September
Tuesday, 4 September
Wednesday, 5 September
Thursday, 6 September
Lay day or resail
Friday, 7 September
Rolex Crew Party
Saturday, 8 September
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing launched an 11th hour comeback in the PORTMIAMI In-Port Race to take their tally of in-shore successes to three, while Groupama scored a strong second to pile the pressure on overall race leaders Telefónica.
Ian Walker’s crew were rewarded for sailing a near-perfect race on Saturday when they snatched the lead from Groupama on the penultimate leg and went on to seal a dramatic victory.
Although they were pipped at the post, Groupama’s result moves them to within just seven points of Telefónica, who had yet more in-port disappointment when a penalty for touching one of the turning marks relegated them to last place.
In a thrilling finale, PUMA came from behind to rocket past CAMPER into third just metres from the finish line.
It was a fourth successive podium finish in the in-shore series for Ken Read’s PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG crew, and it brought them to within a point of third-placed CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand on the overall scoreboard.
Team Sanya, the only team not racing in a new generation boat, were unlucky not to finish higher up the leaderboard, having to settle for fifth after a brave battle with their rivals.
“It feels great,” said a jubilant Abu Dhabi skipper Walker moments after crossing the finish line.
“We’ve had a tough time of it. We had no time at all to prepare for the last in-port race and we made a special point of having two full days’ training here. We wanted to show the world that Abu Dhabi hasn’t given up. We’re a good team, we’re determined, and it feels great to win a race.”
With the Volvo Ocean Race entering a critical stage with just three offshore legs and three in-port races left, just 14 points split the top four boats.
Telefónica still lead with 165 points but snapping at their heels are Groupama on 158, while CAMPER and PUMA are dangerously close on 152 and 151 respectively, bolstered by the results of the PORTMIAMI In-Port Race.
In a nail-biting contest peppered with position changes, Abu Dhabi capitalised on a strong start along with Sanya but it was Telefónica who led round the first mark, showing off their blistering speed on Leg 1.
The action couldn’t have been any more intense with Abu Dhabi and Groupama overhauling Telefónica on Leg 2. Meanwhile, after paying the price for heading offshore, CAMPER and PUMA were left desperately chasing the frontrunners.
While the front two stretched their lead, a fierce battle for third developed, climaxing on Leg 6 with Telefónica hitting the mark and the rest of the fleet piling in behind.
Telefónica were penalised by the on-the-water umpires, adding to their in-port misery and ending their hopes of consolidating their overall lead.
Sniffing a chance to pick up crucial points, PUMA, CAMPER and Sanya put pedal to metal and launched an extraordinary comeback that brought them back in touch with then leaders Groupama and second-placed Abu Dhabi with just a few legs left.
Abu Dhabi’s defining moment came when they hoisted a bigger sail than their French rivals, making the most of the smallest of speed advantages to pass Groupama despite having to dodge a spectator boat.
With the breeze fading, race officials chose to shorten the course and Abu Dhabi hung on to claim the win, all the more sweet due to the fact that just a few weeks ago their stricken boat Azzam was on a container ship en route to Brazil.
The sailors and shore crews are now turning their sights on the final preparations for 3,580 nautical mile Leg 7 from Miami to Lisbon, Portugal, starting on Sunday at 1700 UTC (1300 local time).
PORTMIAMI In-Port Race results:
1. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, 74:09
2. Groupama sailing team, +00:33
3. PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG, +02:02
4. CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand, +02:11
5. Team Sanya, +2:35
6. Team Telefónica, +6:28