The PHRF Class start at the 2013 Ida Lewis Distance Race  (Photo by Meghan Sepe)

The PHRF Class start at the 2013 Ida Lewis Distance Race (Photo by Meghan Sepe)

 

A “virtual mark” adds an intriguing new twist to the 10th Annual Ida Lewis Distance Race (ILDR), which starts this Friday (August 15). Starting at 12:30 p.m. off Fort Adams in Newport, R.I., the popular overnighter takes its fleet of PHRF, IRC, One-Design, Doublehanded and Multihull boats on one of four courses – between 104nm and 177nm – that trace the New England coastline.

“This is the first time that we have used the concept of a ‘virtual mark’ at the Ida Lewis Distance Race,” said ILDR Race Chairman Simon Davidson, adding that the mark is similar to a traditional mark, as defined in the rules of sailing, except rather than being a physical object, it’s a position defined by latitude and longitude coordinates.

“Originally, this concept was born out of necessity, due to the Coast Guard’s removal of various traditional marks that we’ve used in the past. However, making this change actually enhances the race committee’s ability to set an optimal distance course. If this experience proves successful, we expect to see it used for a lot of other events.”

This year, the mark will be located at longitude 41:06.00 north and latitude 071:23.34 west.

“This seems to be an emerging trend,” said Ed Cesare (Norwalk, Conn.), who is returning this summer to defend his 2013 win on Class 40 Pleiad Racing in the Doublehanded Division. “I know the RORC uses virtual marks and have been doing so for some time. Certainly the technology is there, so if it works for the race course, then let’s do it.”

Cesare has been racing in the Ida Lewis Distance Race since its inception in 2004. “I competed in this event on a variety of different boats, and what I love about it is that the organizers are constantly trying to modify the format to make it better for a variety of different teams. It also starts and finishes in Newport, making it a fun weekend for all members of the family.”

Youth Challenge Entries 2013 photo by Meghan Sepe

Youth Challenge Entries 2013 (Photo by Meghan Sepe)

To that point, the Ida Lewis Distance Race welcomes the next generation of sailors to try offshore racing on for size with its Youth and Collegiate Challenges. To qualify for the Youth Challenge, more than 40% of the crew must have reached their 14th birthday but not turned 20 prior to August 15. To qualify for the Collegiate Challenge, more than 40% of the crew must not have reached the age of 26 prior to August 15. For both challenges, teams are encouraged to register under the burgee of a college sailing program or a US SAILING yacht club or community sailing program.

TRACK THE RACERS HERE

Video and Photo Contests
The Ripple Effect Short Video Contest has been introduced to attract and engage the youth sailors (between 14 and 20 years of age) competing in the Ida Lewis Distance Race. The contest was originally developed by Joe Cooper and Manuka SEM for the Atlantic Cup this past May. Participants (working either individually or as a team) are asked to answer the question “What do you like most about offshore/overnight sailing?” through a video essay or documentary no longer than five minutes in length.

The Ida Lewis Distance Race Photo Challenge invites all sailors competing in this summer’s event to submit photos to the event Facebook Page (with hashtag #ILDR) that capture their experience at the race. Prizes for both contests will be announced at a later date.

To download contest guidelines and registration form, visit http://bit.ly/1oIOWFb

Sponsors
Starting Line sponsors for the 2014 Ida Lewis Distance Race include the City of Newport, Helly Hansen, New England Boatworks, Marsh, Newport Shipyard and North Sails; Contributing Sponsors are DYT Yacht Transport, Goslings Rum, Rig Pro Southern Spars, Stella Artois, Flint Audio Video, Mac Designs, Sea Gear Uniforms, Toni Mills Graphic Design and Z Block.

The Ida Lewis Distance Race is a qualifier for the New England Lighthouse Series (PHRF); the Northern and Double-Handed Ocean Racing Trophies (IRC); and the US-IRC Gulf Stream Series.

For more information or to register, visit http://www.ildistancerace.org or contact Race Chair Simon Davidson, RaceChairman@ILDistanceRace.org.

Follow the race on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube

 

IRC Class Start at 2013 Ida Lewis Distance (Photo by Meghan Sepe)

IRC Class Start at 2013 Ida Lewis Distance (Photo by Meghan Sepe)

IDA LEWIS DISTANCE RACE ENTRIES FOR 2014
Sail Number Yacht Name Owner’s Name Home Port Yacht Type Length
1. USA 41241 And She Was Tim Keyworth Deep River , CT , USA Nelson Marek 45 45.61
2. USA 60510 Ariel Bob Anderson Seekonk, MA, USA J 46 46 ft
3. USA 14111 Aurora Andrew Kallfelz Jamestown, RI, USA Tartan41 12.37m
4. USA 4224 Barleycorn Brendan Brownyard Bay Shore, NY, USA Swan 42 42.5
5. USA 190 Bazinga! Dave Lussier Exeter, RI, USA F-31 31
6. USA 4243 Blazer Christopher Culver Stamford, CT, USA Swan 42 42.5
7. USA 42258 Breakaway Paul Grimes Portsmouth, RI, USA J 35 35.5
8. GBR 7190 BUFFALO – Collegiate Richard Fontaine Buzzards Bay, MA, USA DK 46 46.3
9. USA 42565 Covenant-Collegiate Chris Oliver – Univ. of Michigan Norwalk, CT, USA J 40 40
10. USA 43777 Crazy Horse – Collegiate Kevin McLaughlin – Duquesne Univ. Fairhaven, MA, USA Sloop 50
11. USA 54 DRAGON Michael Hennessy New York, NY, USA Class 40 40
12. USA 42700 Duck Soup Bill Clavin Warwick, RI, USA C&C 37 R/XL 39’6
13. USA 60511 Eagles Dare Mike Piper Marblehead, MA, USA J 111 36
14. USA 50400 Entropy Paul Hamilton / Patti Young Jamestown, RI, USA Tripp 41 41.0
15. USA 52162 EXILE Brendan Kelley Newport, RI, USA J 133 43
16. USA 88 Flight Risk John R Sampson Rumson, NJ, USA Corsair 31 Trimaran 31
17. 27 Flying Fish Steven Parks Middletown, RI, USA F27 27
18. USA 106 GryphonSolo2 Joe Harris S. Hamilton, MA, USA Class 40 40
19. GBR 8858R Jackknife 11 Andrew Hall Southport, Merseyside, GBR C&C Redline 41 41
20. USA 52056 KING DADDY Devin McGranahan Sewickley, PA, USA Swan 56 56
21. GBR 711 Maximizer Jose Diego-Arozamena New York, NY, USA Farr 73 73
22. USA 10 Milk and Honey III Mchael Divon New York, NY, USA Corsair C37 37
23. USA 60554 Moonshot Aldo Roldan Princeton, NJ, USA Amel Ketch 53
24. USA 52814 North Sails Youth Challenge Joe Cooper Middletown, RI, USA Class 40 40
25. USA 2001 Oakcliff Racing – Youth Entry Oakcliff Sailing Oyster Bay, NY, USA Farr 47 47
26. USA 711 Odyssey – Youth Entry Alfred Van Liew Middletown, RI, USA J 111 36.5
27. USA 12282 Orion Paul Milo Leesburg, VA, USA J 122 40
28. USA 60426 Oronoco Adrian Ravenscroft Cohasset, MA, USA Sabre 426 42
29. USA 39 Pleiad Racing Edward Cesare Norwalk, CT, USA Class 40 40
30. USA 301 Samba Tristan Mouligne Boston, MA, USA Quest 30 30
31. USA 52756 Sarah Greg Manning Warwick, RI, USA X-41 41
32. USA 61200 Secondhand Lions – Youth Challenge Robert Kits van Heyningen Portsmouth, RI, USA J 120 40
33. USA 40808 SELKIE David Brown Middletown, RI, USA McCurdy&Rhodes 38 38
34. USA 52643 Settler Thomas Rich Portsmouth, RI, USA NEB Tripp 43 43
35. USA 57 Skedaddle Andrew Houlding Hamden, CT, USA Corsair 28R 28
36. USA 56 Spirit EC Helme Newport, RI, USA J 92S 30
37. USA 95 SPOOKIE Steve & Heidi Benjamin Norwalk, CT, USA Carkeek HP 40 40.0
38. USA 31 Team McMichael Youth Challenge Richard Fleig Portsmouth, RI, USA J 88 29
39. USA 4212 The Cat Came Back Lincoln Mossop Providence, RI, USA Swan 42 42
40. USA 52985 Three Little Birds Kevin Baxley Brooklyn, NY, USA Trimaran 11m
41. USA 128 Toothface2 Michael Dreese West Newton, MA, USA Class 40 – Akilaria RC3 40
42. USA 203 URSA Brooke Mastrorio Lakeville, MA, USA J 109 35
43. USA 93499 Valkyrie Drew Chapman New York, NY, USA Beneteau First 44.7 44
44. USA 51322 Vamoose Bob Manchester Barrington, RI, USA J 120 40.0
45. USA 7145 Vortices Chris Saxton Plymouth, MI, USA J 145 48
46. USA 52821 White Rhino Todd Stuart Newport, RI, USA Swan 56 56

Shockwave and Bella Mente (Photo by George Bekris)

Shockwave and Bella Mente (Photo by George Bekris)

By Talbot Wilson

Three boats had finished the 2014 Newport Bermuda Race by late Monday afternoon

— Shockwave, Bella Mente, Caol Ila R

George Sakellaris’ big white Richel/Pugh mini-maxi Shockwave crossed the finish line off Bermuda’s St. David’s Lighthouse Monday morning at 5:34 race time EDT (6:34AM local time). Her elapsed time was 63:04:11. Bella Mente, Hap Fauth’s 72 foot Judel/Vrolijk mini-maxi, followed by seven minutes with her time at 63:11:25. The two had battled head to head within sight of each almost continuously for over 635 miles.

Shockwave heading for a dawn finish off St David's Lighthouse. Photo Barry Pickthall/PPL

Shockwave heading for a dawn finish off St David’s Lighthouse. Photo Barry Pickthall/PPL

Caol Ila R, Alex Schaerer’s 68 foot Mills IRC racer, crossed third at 8:33 local time, three hours behind Shockwave at 66:03:52.

Based on preliminary ORR results, Shockwave stands first on corrected time in the Gibbs Hill Lighthouse Division, Bella Mente is second and Caol Ila R is third.

The next boat on the course, the US Naval Academy TP52 Constellation, is expected to finish more than 16 hours after the leader on Monday night. The remainder of the fleet is caught in the fickle winds of a frontal zone, waiting for the system to drift east-southeast and weaken. The picture is not pretty for boats still on the course. Light conditions will prevail through Wednesday and maybe longer.

Robbie Doyle sailed his 12th Newport Bermuda Race as the “stratitician” on board George Sakellaris’ Shockwave.

Doyle said, “Different guys called different things for the general strategy. The navigator made a lot of big calls. We had to hunt to find the (Gulf) Stream… we never found the 4 knot real road to Bermuda. It had broken up before we got there. Forecasters had predicted it might, but they suggested we might get there before it would start to dismember. The Stream was really breaking up pretty quick.”

“We got a knot and a half out of it.” He continued, “The stream came around (motioning to indicate a southwest to northeast direction to southeast direction) and what happened is that this part (flow) stopped and decided it was going to reconnect itself eventually and just become a smooth stream. We got through it.”

When asked about the cold core eddy predicted below the flow, Doyle said, “We caught that eddy, but it was only a knot and a half of current; still nice because we had it for 40 nautical miles. It wasn’t the three knots we had fought to get to that point for.“

Congratulations to George Sakellaris and the team aboard Shockwave for winning line honors in this year’s race. The win adds to Shockwave’s growing list of recent victories, highlighted by their division win in the 2012 Newport-Bermuda Race, the 2013 Montego Bay, and the 2014 RORC Caribbean 600 Race. Originally launched in 2008 as Alpha Romero 3, Shockwave continues her winning ways.

George Sakellaris, owner of the first to finish yacht Shockwave celebrates with Gosling's Dark 'n Stormy drink with his crew on arrival at the Royal Bermuda YC dock. Photo Barry Pickthall/PPL

George Sakellaris, owner of the first to finish yacht Shockwave celebrates with Gosling’s Dark ‘n Stormy drink with his crew on arrival at the Royal Bermuda YC dock. Photo Barry Pickthall/PPL

Commander’s Weather
1) Frontal zone is located from 35/65w to 33n/70w to Savannah early this morning
a) This front will continue to drift ESE and weaken

2) An expanding area of light winds will develop along and N and S of the frontal zone
a) The shower and squall activity will be diminishing this morning and will become at most isolated this afternoon and tonight
b) The nice SW winds in Bermuda will become much lighter late today and tonight

3) By Tue morning, the frontal zone will be located from 35n/60 30w to 33n/65w to a weak low near 32-33n/74w
a) Light NE-E winds north of the front and very light SW-W winds south of the front
b) Shower/squall activity will be at most isolated and possibly non-existent

4) Wed will see the light wind conditions continuing
a) The frontal zone will be drifting N with light SW and S winds also spreading slowly north during the day

For scratch sheets, crew lists, and other information about the boats, go to Race Documents & Rules.

Twenty-nine of the two Newport Bermuda Lighthouse Divisions’ entries are also sailing the 25th Onion Patch Series, a tough triathlon of offshore racing. These Onion Patch racers have just sailed the NYYC 160th Annual Regatta presented by Rolex in Newport and will form the core of the June 27nd RBYC Anniversary Regatta which now has 32 entries. The RBYC Anniversary Regatta is open to all IRC or ORR rated yachts over 25 feet in Bermuda. Anniversary Regatta entries close at noon on June 25th. Information is online at www.onionpatchseries.com and at www.rbyc.bm.

www.BermudaRace.com — carries Newport Bermuda Race rules, news, videos, photos, history, and expert advice. Race news is also posted on the Newport Bermuda Race 2014 Facebook page and on Twitter at @BdaRace.

HIRO MARU and the Class 1 St. David's Lighthouse Division Start 2014 (Photo by George Bekris)

HIRO MARU and the Class 1 St. David’s Lighthouse Division Start 2014 (Photo by George Bekris)

It Was a Little Messy, but the Bermuda Race Fleet has Started

Spirit of Bermuda Starts off the Race for 2014 (Photo By George Bekris)

Spirit of Bermuda Starts off the Race for 2014 (Photo By George Bekris)

By John Rousmaniere

If it was more fun for  spectators than the sailors, the reason was the sea breeze that inched toward the starting line until it finally dominated the northerly.Newport. RI, June 20, 2014, 7 PM.  Who would have thought that spinnakers would be flown at the starts of two Newport Bermuda Races in a row?  The race did not gain its well-known nickname, “The Thrash to the Onion Patch,” because it’s a downwind sleigh ride, like the Transpac.  The 2012 start was a fast run before a fresh northerly for every one of the 165 boats in every class.  This year was a little more complicated for the 164 starters. As the five divisions in 14 classes got going over a period of two and one-half hours, the first half of the fleet in seven starts got away in a leftover northerly breeze under spinnaker.   Not so the last seven.  Like a typical summer day on Long Island Sound, the mouth of Narragansett Bay was full of confusion.

Some of the Class 2 fleet St. David's Lighthouse Division Start 2014  (Photo by George Bekris)

Some of the Class 2 fleet St. David’s Lighthouse Division Start 2014 (Photo by George Bekris)

(Photo by George Bekris)

(Photo by George Bekris)

The afternoon’s winners appear to be the boats that started early, Classes 1, 2, and 3–the smaller and medium-size boats in the St. David’s Lighthouse Division.  With the light to moderate northerly on their stern, they tacked downwind to the buoy marking the outer reaches of Brenton Reef, and carried their chutes around the mark and onto the southeasterly course to Bermuda. When the southwester filled in like a light summer blanket, all they had to do was raise the jib, douse the spinnaker, and tack onto starboard, meanwhile holding the same course.

Newport_Bermuda_2014_george_bekris_June-20-2014_-1-001

One of the biggest of those winners may be Sinn Fein, the Cal 40 that’s always sailed well by Peter Rebovich, Sr., and his crew of family and friends from Raritan Yacht Club, in New Jersey.  The two-time winners of the St. David’s Lighthouse Division (in 2006 and 2008), they’ve been preoccupied by other concerns since the 2012 race: rebuilding their boat after she was nearly destroyed by Hurricane Sandy. Today they set the spinnaker promptly and effectively, found the right apparent wind angle, and pulled away. When last seen, Sinn Fein was on the far horizon, closehauled in the seabreeze and racing to Bermuda near the head of a clump of at least 50 other smaller boats. The Pantaenius tracker at 3 p.m. (about two hours after the Class 1 start) showed Sinn Fein slightly behind William Klein’s CC 40, Glim. We’ll know when we see later tracker readings (being sure to remember the 4-hour time delay) and a get a sense of the wind and wave conditions as the big fleet gets out into the Atlantic.

(Photo by George Bekris)

(Photo by George Bekris)

But at least everybody’s racing, and headed toward the Gulf Stream, where (the forecasters are telling us) they may find more to worry about than a shifty wind—such as squalls and big seas that could turn this race into a real thrash.The boats that started an hour or so later than Class 1 had any number of troubles as the seabreeze slowly pushed away the northerly. At one moment a Class 6 medium-size St. David’s Lighthouse boat with a red spinnaker up and pulling well on port tack was less than 25 yards abeam of another Class 6 boat with a green and yellow chute pulling well on starboard tack.  A few minutes later, the seabreeze reached the starting line in the mouth of Narragansett Bay just as Class 8 (large St. David’s boats) was making its final approach—some running in the dying northerly, others beating in the slowly building southerly.

(Photo by George Bekris)

(Photo by George Bekris)

 

For More Photos of the Newport Bermuda Race visit George Bekris Photography HERE 

 

 

– See more at bout the race at: http://bermudarace.com/little-messy-bermuda-race-fleet-started/#sthash.aMUaHBGw.dpuf

 

 

 Class 6 within the St David's Lighthouse division setting out for Bermuda during the last race. Photo Daniel Forster/PPL


Class 6 within the St David’s Lighthouse division setting out for Bermuda during the last race. Photo Daniel Forster/PPL

By Talbot Wilson

 How to Watch the Bermuda Race Start from Land or Sea.

With more than 160 racing boats in the mouth of Narragansett Bay on June 20th, the start of the Newport Bermuda Race will be a spectacular sight, whether you’re watching from the nearby shore or from a boat on the water. The first gun is scheduled for 12:50 with the first start scheduled for 1:00. The last start is approximately 2:30.

Because the race start is close to land, many spectators prefer to gather at shoreside viewing points on high ground, such as the Castle Hill Inn. Parking fees may be charged and there may be limitations on bringing food.

Spectator boats are permitted to watch the Bermuda Race start if they observe limit buoys, keep a careful lookout, and obey the instructions of Race Committee and U.S. Coast Guard personnel in official patrol boats. Because the water will be crowded and rough, small boats such as kayaks and canoes are strongly discouraged.

Charter boats offering day trips are numerous at Newport. Many are listed at http://www.discovernewport.org/recreation/boating-and-sailing/charters-and-excursions.

All spectators should be aware the use of drones (Unmanned Aircraft Systems, UAS) near outdoors public events has been banned in Rhode Island.

Please monitor CH 72 VHF for all race information and CH 69 for Patrol Boat communication.

Do not transmit on CH 72. It is reserved for the RC and competitors.

The scheduled time of the first warning signal is 12:50 p.m.

The first class is scheduled to start at 1:00 p.m. and subsequent classes start at 10-minute intervals.

The starting line is between the Sailing vessel AXIA(120’ Ketch) and a large yellow buoy near Castle Hill.

The regular spectator area is well outside and to the southwest of the orange inflatable marks surrounding the starting line and defining the Competitors Only Restricted Areas.

There is another pre-start restricted area South of the starting line on the course side. It lies between the port and starboard tack lay lines from either end of the starting line, and extends for 200 yards down the course from the starting line. The eastern side of the area will end at an Orange 8’ Tetrahedron approximately 200 meters south of the last dumpy.

The 49th Newport Bermuda Race is right around the corner. Home-based spectators can track their favorite yachts, skippers or crewmembers in the 635-mile ocean classic starting June 20 from Newport Rhode Island. All boats in the 2014 fleet will be provided with Yellowbrick tracking modules before the start. Bringing the competition to you as live as it can be, Pantaenius Race Tracking — www.pantaenius.com/NBRtracking — is your link to all the virtual action in the race. Pantaenius Yacht Insurance is the Tracker Sponsor for this year’s Newport Bermuda Race

Test the site ahead of time and also download the Yellowbrick app for mobile coverage wherever you are. Some browser updates may be needed. The Yellowbrick race viewer will run well on any web browsers released since 2012, namely:

  • Internet Explorer 10 & 11
  • Google Chrome 23 and upwards
  • Firefox 20 and upwards
  • Safari 6 and upwards

Updating your browser is normally a very easy process, and is good practice since it will also patch any security issues that may have been found since it was released.

In the Newport Bermuda Race this year, there will be a time delay in the early stages of the race to prevent competitors from using the positions of other yachts for tactical advantage.

Tracking will be delayed by 4 hours for the first 48 hours of the race and then go to near-real-time reports every 30 minutes from each yacht. Expect to see a jump forward after 48 hours to the yacht’s actual position. As yachts get within 15 miles of Bermuda the timing of reports will be more frequent.

For competitors using satellite links, a low bandwidth link for sat phones on boats will be available.

Newport Bermuda action starts Friday, June 20th, with the first warning signal scheduled for 12:50PM EDT in the East Passage of Narragansett Bay off Castle Hill Lighthouse in Newport Rhode Island. This year, 165 boats have entered in five divisions. These will be divided in classes of about 15 boats each plus a class for the ‘Spirit of Bermuda’ starting by herself in the Spirit of Tradition Division.

Twenty-nine of the two Newport Bermuda Lighthouse Divisions’ entries are also sailing the 25th Onion Patch Series, a tough triathlon of offshore racing. These Onion Patch racers have just sailed the New York Yacht Club 160th Annual Regatta presented by Rolex in Newport and form the core of the June 27nd Royal Bermuda Yacht Club Anniversary Regatta which now has 32 entries. The RBYC Anniversary Regatta is open to all IRC or ORR rated yachts over 25 feet in Bermuda. Anniversary Regatta entries close at noon on June 25th. Information is online at www.onionpatchseries.com.

The website — www.BermudaRace.com— carries Newport Bermuda Race rules, news, videos, photos, history, and expert advice. Race news is also posted on the Newport Bermuda Race 2014 Facebook page and on Twitter at @BdaRace.

2012 Newport Bermuda Yacht Race -start in Narragansett Bay Class 10 Gibbs Hill lighthouse division Rambler - USA 25555 - Custom 90 maxi  yacht skippered by  George David Belle Mente - USA 45 - 72ft mini maxi  yacht skippered by  Hap Fauth Team Tiburon Wizard -USA 4511 - Reichel Pugh 74 skippered by Mark E Watson III - USMMA Shockwave - USA 60272 - mini- maxi  yacht skippered by  George Skellaris Rima II - USA 55155 - Reichel Pugh 55  yacht skippered by  John G Brin Stark Raving Mad - USA 61011 - Swan 601 production  yacht skippered by  James C Madden Meanie - CAN 84248 - Reichel Pugh 52   yacht skippered by  Thomas Akin

The big yachts in the Gibbs Hill Lighthouse trophy division at the start of the 2012 Newport Bermuda Race. Photo: Daniel Forster/PPL

 

Velsheda Winner of Cruising Spirit of Tradition Class (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

Velsheda Winner of Cruising Spirit of Tradition Class (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

 

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.

Y3K Claus Peter Offen, Winner Of The Wally Class (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

Y3K Claus Peter Offen, Winner Of The Wally Class (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

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.”

Alfa Romeo Neville Crichton Winner Of Mini Maxi Racing (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

Alfa Romeo Neville Crichton Winner Of Mini Maxi Racing (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

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!”

 

Magie Carpet (Photo by Carlo Borlenghi)

Magie Carpet 2 (Photo by Carlo Borlenghi)

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.

Luna Rossa and Bella Mente (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

Luna Rossa and Bella Mente (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

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.

Maxi Fleet Rounding Monaci Island (Photo by Carlo Borlenghi)

Maxi Fleet Rounding Monaci Island (Photo by Carlo Borlenghi)

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.

Maxi Fleet (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

Maxi Fleet (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

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.

IDEA and Good Job Guys (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

IDEA and Good Job Guys (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

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

Racing/Cruising
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

Wally*
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

Beau Geste Upwind Day Two (Photo by Carlo Borlenghi)

Beau Geste Upwind Day Two (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

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.

Mini Maxi Fleet start (Photo by Carlo Borlenghi)

Mini Maxi Fleet start (Photo by Carlo Borlenghi)

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.

Open Season, Y3K and Magic Carpet (Photo by Carlo Borlenghi)

Open Season, Y3K and Magic Carpet (Photo by Carlo Borlenghi)

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.

Visione In Day 2 Racing Off Porto Cervo, Italy (Photo by Carlo Borlenghi)

Visione In Day 2 Racing Off Porto Cervo, Italy (Photo by Carlo Borlenghi)

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).

Velshelda Beating (Photo by Carlo Borlenghi)

Velsheda Beating (Photo by Carlo Borlenghi)

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

J-Class Velsheda (Photo by Carlo Borlenghi)

J-Class Velsheda (Photo by Carlo Borlenghi)

There was a twinkle in the eye of Poseidon this morning. The current crop of sailing gods may have gathered in Porto Cervo for the 2009 Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, but the lord of the sea was about to prove mastery of the waves does not come easily even to the gifted. This was to be a testing day for all competitors. Not everyone was overawed, as ocean ace Torben Grael and Olympic maestro Robert Scheidt conspired to bring Luna Rossa (ITA) home first amongst the Racing Mini Maxis, although not without their moment. Jean-Charles Decaud’s J One (FRA) was the fortunate one in the Wallys, while Velsheda (GBR) and tradition got the better of modernity in Cruising. The luck of the Irish was evidenced in the Racing/Cruising Mini Maxis as Whisper (IRL) quietly went about her business and in the combined Racing/Cruising division, Karl Kwok’s Beau Geste (HKG) wrapped up the race win in indecent haste.

The journey from Porto Cervo harbour to the start line was enough to set the nerves jangling this morning as a 3-metre sea and 20 – 25 knots of northeasterly wind greeted competitors. The conditions were more than manageable for Maxi yachts, but there were traps in the waves and gusts that would catch those unwary, unlucky or unprepared. The Race Committee chose a 35 nautical mile course, that took the fleet on a beat to a windward mark, followed by a fetch to the rocks at Monaci, where the yachts bore off onto a run down into the main channel between the Maddalena Islands and mainland Sardinia. At Secca di Tre Monti the fleet hardened up for some upwind work in flat water to the top mark of the course at Barrettinelli di Fuori. Then it was back out into the lump and bump of the open sea and a fast reach down to the finish off Porto Cervo.

The Racing Mini Maxis got proceedings underway. Neville Crichton all but confirmed his worst fears about preparation with a distinctly second row start that saw Alfa Romeo (NZL) forced to tack off onto port straight after the gun. The division split in two with half favouring the right and half the left. The right paid. By first mark, Crichton’s crew, with Ben Ainslie in the strategist’s role, had regained composure and position to take a slender lead over Niklas Zennstrom’s Ràn (GBR). Luna Rossa was in third and the biggest surprise was the 60-foot Jethou getting the better of the STP65 Container (GER). It was at this point that Poseidon played his first trump card. Andres Soriano and Alegre (GBR) suffered sail damage that was considered enough to warrant the crew taking an early bath. One down.

The next three classes got away without incident making the best of the difficult conditions. The fifth and final start was the most dramatic. Poseidon’s humour was black at this point, perhaps frustrated at the fleet’s apparent nonchalant regard for the conditions. The Polish crew on Intuition were thrown the unhittable curve ball. Two bangs announced the Racing/Cruising Mini Maxi’s entrance into the arena. The one from the Committee boat was expected. The one from the from Intuition was gut wrenching as the top three metres of her mast separated leaving her mortally-wounded on the line, a sorry sight for the fast departing fleet. Two down.

Mini Maxi Winner, Whisper (Photo by Carlo Borlenghi)

Mini Maxi Winner, Whisper (Photo by Carlo Borlenghi)

 

In The Wallys, Lindsay Owen Jones and Magic Carpet had looked to be settled into the groove early holding a good lead over Open Season and the longer Y3K. It was a lead they would hold all the way to Barrettinelli when the trident of bad fortune chose to strike Owen Jones, not for the first time in the history of this event. Twice in quick succession the head sail appeared to blow out of the foil, leaving the Magic Carpet looking a little thread bare as she was forced to finish race under main alone. Not quite three down, but in the context of this race she would no longer play a serious role.

On Luna Rossa, Robert Scheidt and Torben Grael were understandably happy with the way the day’s events unfolded. “It was a good day for us,” commented Grael, “we had a nice start, read the course well, made some nice moves and even got to the finish line ahead, which is good for a small boat in a class like ours.” Grael admitted that it had not been straightforward describing how shortly after watching Ràn suffer her moment of misfortune when the jib tack broke tearing the sail out of the headfoil, the Luna Rossa crew took the lead and promptly lost control of the inner staysail during the hoist. Fortunately for Luna Rossa they were reaching at this point and the issue was no more than an irritation. Ràn’s problems cost them second if not the race, according to tactician Adrian Stead. The remaining podium positions in Luna Rossa’s class were taken by Hap Fauth’s Bella Mente (USA) and Alfa Romeo.

In the second tier group of Mini Maxis, comprising the less race-oriented boats, the Irish yacht, Whisper, sailed an exemplary race to correct out seven minutes ahead of Massimillano Florio’s Grande Orazio and Massimo Violati’s OPS 5. Mick Cotter, the owner, was a happy man as he climbed ashore, “we had big breeze, which helps a big heavy boat like ours! We had no problems either, which some of the other boats seemed to have.” For Cotter the biggest problem of the day was which sail to put up; a decision-making question-mark echoed by tactician Andy Beadsworth, who described how on the reach back to the finish they were torn between sticking with the sail combination that had almost got them to the top of the course first on the water or changing up a gear. In the end, conservatism won through. “We had a few concerns about hoisting the kite. We’d been going well till that point, though we might have been better off reefed. Putting the spinnaker up might have opened us to more problems and, to be honest, we were in such a good position we didn’t need to gain anything, so we held off,” Beadsworth explained. Wise choice.

Luna Rosa (Photo by Carlo Borlenghi)

Luna Rosa (Photo by Carlo Borlenghi)

For some crews the end of racing today could not come soon enough. The prospect of more of the same tomorrow will probably be unnerving a few. By contrast, for Mick Cotter, tomorrow can’t come soon enough and he is hoping for another dose of the medicine, “I don’t think there is a better place to sail, you are nearly always going to get a breeze and it’s warm so it does not matter if the sea comes over you.” When Irish eyes are smiling.