As Bryon Ehrhart, owner of Lucky, put it: “Today was great sailing - Chamber of Commerce stuff!” After difficult conditions for some of the seven classes at the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup yesterday, there was solid breeze for day three of racing. Winds ranging from 10-20+ knots enabled the Maxi 72s and Wallys successfully to sail two windward-leewards, while the remaining five Maxi classes completed a coastal course, clockwise around Caprera and La Maddalena, with the wind piping up to the mid-20s.
Held for the world’s largest racing yachts, the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup is jointly organised by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda, this year celebrating its 50th anniversary, and the International Maxi Association, the body sanctioned by World Sailing to represent the Maxi classes.
In the Maxi 72s, Momo was today’s big winner claiming both races - the first by 2:51 under IRC corrected time from Dario Ferrari's Cannonball, the second by 1:12 from George Sakellaris' Proteus.
“We had two good starts and everything went well,” said Momo’s owner, Dieter Schön. “It was a good day for us. It is always the same - you have small shifts, the wind always on the left and you have to control the others. The competition is great.”
Momo’s strategist, Murray Jones, who, following Bermuda, is now the most capped America’s Cup-winner of all time, acknowledged: “We had two good starts, especially the first one when we were really fast off the line. We had good boat speed upwind and downwind, but a couple of layline calls downwind weren’t great. It wasn’t that straightforward.”
Momo now leads the Maxi 72 class overall.
Conditions favoured the bigger boats in the Wally class. Open Season of International Maxi Association President Thomas Bscher, claimed the first race and was on a similar path in the second until she infringed the Wallycento Galateia in a top mark port-starboard incident. Open Season had to carry out a penalty turn which for a 107footer is a major undertaking. “That dropped us from first or second to 10th, second last,” observed tactician, Jochen Schümann. Galateia won, but under IRC corrected time Nahita was second by just five seconds and Philippe Ligiers Ryokan 2 third a further two seconds back.
In the first race, Open Season pulled off a similar start to Momo, thundering across the line close to the committee boat and, despite a close leeward gate rounding with Galateia, was able to power away and win comfortably.
In the Super Maxis it was the turn of Kim Schindelhauer’s WinWin to live up to her name, moving her up to third overall behind Salvatore Trifiro's new Ribelle and Filip Balcaen's Baltic 112, Nilaya. “It was a lot of fun,” said WinWin’s tactician, former America’s Cup skipper, Mark Sadler. “There was nice consistent pressure all the way around - up to 18-20 knots. The top four boats are really close.” WinWin managed to get ahead through a clean start and getting in the groove on the fetch north of La Maddalena, her 80 tonnes at one point hitting 18 knots.
Among the Maxis it was again a 1,2 for George David’s Rambler 88 and Sir Irvine Laidlaw’s Highland Fling XI. They are tied on five points overall.
For a second day running it was the brand new Southern Wind 96, Sorceress, of Canadian Will Apold that claimed third. Apold has sailed his previous boats here, but this is Sorceress’ first Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup. “It’s super - lots of great activities, a great yacht club and beautiful surroundings, a beautiful place to sail,” says Apold of the Costa Smeralda. Sorceress, he says, is designed 95% for cruising, 5% for racing. “The deck is from me. Down below is by my wife...”
Of the competition with Rambler 88 and Highland Fling XI, Sorceress' tactician Laurent Pagès observed: “Upwind we match them both pretty well, but they have the edge when you crack sheets.” They are also grand prix boats that have been campaigned for years.
In the Mini Maxi Racing class, Sir Peter Ogden’s Judel Vrolijk 72 Jethou claimed her third bullet of the series, leaving American Bryon Ehrhart’s Reichel Pugh 63 Lucky to take second. The 2015 winner of The Transatlantic Race enjoyed today’s conditions: “When you have this kind of breeze, the boat livens up and the crew is fully into it. It is hard to catch Jethou: She is a quick boat and is very well sailed.” Unlike Jethou, Lucky also has mixed pro and amateur crew, many New York Yacht Club members.
In the ultra-competitive Mini Maxi Racer Cruiser 1 class, Roberto Lacorte's Vismara 62 SuperNikka claimed today's race by 23 seconds from yesterday's winner, Benoît de Froidmont's Wally 60 Wallyño and now leads overall by a mere point.
In a rerun of yesterday's race, in Mini Maxi Racer Cruiser 2, Riccardo de Michele's Vallicelli 80 H2O won from Giuseppe Puttini's highly successful Swan 65 Shirlaf with Dr Marietta Gräfin Strasoldo's Swan 651 Lunz Am Meer third.
Tomorrow is a layday for all except the Wallys and Maxi 72s. They will sail two windward-leewards to make up for Tuesday’s lost races.
Tonight the hot ticket in Porto Cervo is to the International Maxi Association annual dinner at the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda. The IMA Annual General Meeting will take place tomorrow afternoon.