Costa Smeralda served up near perfect conditions for the penultimate day of racing at the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup . All classes sailed an anticlockwise loop of Caprera, La Maddalena and Spargi in northwesterly winds peaking in the mid-teens.
In the Rolex Maxi 72 World Championship, running in conjunction with the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, Dieter Schön’s Momo has dominated the last two days, but today others had their turn. Both events are 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.
Ostensibly today’s surprise winner was Alex Schaerer’s Caol Ila R. Skipper Cameron Dunn explained: “The others have been racing all year. We haven’t, so we should be last, but the last two days we have sailed really well. We are over the moon.” The Swiss Maxi 72 led from start to finish.
Schaerer recounted: “We had quite a good start and went right to get a better layline into the first mark. We were a bit faster than the others reaching, maybe because it was a relatively close reach. Upwind went very well, but downwind we had a few scares because theoretically above 15 knots the other boats are faster. To beat the newest boat on the water was good. I am very happy.”
However their lead was tenuous at times. Caol Ila R finished first, but Cannonball was just 14 seconds behind and her two points lower IRC rating translated into victory for her by a mere four seconds. This prompted whoops of joy from the Cannonball crew. “I am happy because it is important for us and for Dario to show that we can compete at this level,” said an ebullient Vasco Vascotto, Cannonball’s tactician. “We sailed very well to remain as close as possible to Caol Ila.”
Having trailed the boats around the race track, Momo salvaged a third and leads by 2.75 points going into the final day.
There was also upset in the Wallys, where Galateia’s stranglehold on the class was finally released allowing in the smaller boats. While the Wally 77s Lyra and Jean-Charles Decaux's J One finished second and third, the Wally 80 Nahita stole the show. Turkish owner Ferit Sahenk was delighted. “It was very exciting today, but we are still correcting our handicap - me! When I got the boat four years ago it was only my seventh time sailing.”
Part of Nahita’s success is in having a crew of predominantly Croatian Olympic sailors, including Rio 2016 470 gold medallists Sime Fantela and Igor Marenic. “We have their team spirit from the first moment until the end of the race,” continued Sahenk.
Of today’s result Fantela said that they had been up with the larger Sensei and Magic Blue on the first beat. They had managed to hold their ground, despite breaking their mast track causing the mainsail to plummet. “That was nerve-wracking. Downwind we extended because Lyra and Ryokan were fighting, which was good for us.”
There was a dramatic finish between the Wallycentos where Open Season, the Wally 107 of International Maxi Association President Thomas Bscher, got stuck in traffic enabling Galateia and Magic Carpet³ to close. Galeteia managed to get her nose inside at the final leeward mark, tack and come back with starboard advantage to win by a mere 12 seconds on the water.
The Super Maxi competition saw Kim Schindelhauer’s 33m long WinWin arriving home first, but Salvatore Trifiro's new 32.5m long Ribelle winning under IRC. “It turned into one of the best superyacht races I have ever done with three boats match racing upwind,” said WinWin’s tactician Mark Sadler. Ribelle benefitted from starting on the right, managing to control Filip Balcaen’s Baltic 112 Nilaya and WinWin for the most of the race.
In the Maxis, Juan Ball's Swan 90 Nefertiti beat the speedsters, George David's Rambler 88 and Sir Irvine Laidlaw's Highland Fling 11, on corrected time. Highland Fling holds a two point lead over Rambler going into the final day.
Sir Peter Ogden’s Judel-Vrolijk 72 Jethou scored her fourth bullet in the Mini Maxi Racers, while Peter Dubens’ Spectre was second, after Bryon Ehrhart’s Lucky retired following a crew injury.
“Today was good,” said Dubens. “We didn’t make any mistakes. We have had a few issues before, but today we had perfect racing. It is really fantastic here. How can you not like sailing past La Maddalena?” Dubens reckoned they picked up positions short tacking up close to the islands rather than being further offshore.
Robert Lauro's Swan 601 Wohpe scored her first victory in Mini Maxi Racer Cruiser 1, but the competition overall remains between Roberto Lacorte on his Vismara 62 SuperNikka and Benoît de Froidmont's Wally 60 Wallyño, just two points behind.
In Mini Maxi Racer Cruiser 2 it is even closer with Riccardo de Michele's Vallicelli 80 H2O tied on points with today's winner, Giuseppe Puttini’s Swan 65 Shirlaf. “We had a good day, without mistakes,” said Puttini. “We are used to being at the back of the fleet, but today in Bomb Alley we were racing H20 and we knew it was our chance to do well. The conditions were perfect for a Swan 65.”
Tomorrow will see the final races of the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup followed by a prizegiving at 17.30 outside of the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda.