Porto Cervo, September 4, 2017. The beautiful sight of the Maxi fleet's spinnakers puffed out against the backdrop of the Arcipelago di La Maddalena sums up the emotional impact of the first day of racing at the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup. This year sees the 28th edition of this Mediterranean must, organized annually by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda with the support of title sponsor Rolex and of the International Maxi Association.
The fifty yachts present left the docks in Porto Cervo early in the morning to get a quick test sail in. The strong Mistral winds that kept the fleet in port yesterday had died down by this morning and the start was called punctually at 11:30 AM in breezes at eight knots that built during the day to twelve. There were gusts at up to fourteen as the fleet headed back to Porto Cervo on a downwind run at the end of the day.
A coastal race was scheduled today for all Maxi Classes: the Racing Committee chose a 30 nm course that took the largest and fastest yachts clockwise around Spargi Island and twice past Passo delle Bisce with a start off Porto Cervo. The Mini Maxi Racer Cruisers in Classes 1 and 2 did a version of the same course that was shortened 8 nm with a mark to pass without rounding it off Spargi.
Staggered starts for each Division and the careful choice of the courses let the whole Maxi fleet, whatever the rating, race in safety. But the beauty of seeing the whole fleet together was assured from points such as Capo d'Orso.
Competition was close in every Class: Owners and crew came back to port tired and happy, well satisfied with a first, intense day of racing in Costa Smeralda waters along the Arcipelago di La Maddalena. All eyes were on the pure racers in the Maxi72 Class, fighting it out here for their World Championship title. Bella Mente was already in the lead in front of Proteus at the offset mark, a lead she held onto until the end. Momo won the fight for third place ahead of Cannonball and Caol Ila R.
Winners in the other Classes were Nilaya ahead of Ribelle and Win Win in the Supermaxi Class; Magic Blue in front of Lyra and J One in the Wally Class; in the Maxi Class, Highland Fling XI finished first ahead of Nefertiti and Rambler 888; and in the Mini Maxi R Class, Jethou edged out Lucky and Spectre for first place.
The Mini Maxi RC1 Class saw the French Swan 601 Arobas edge out Roberto Lacorte's Supernikka, while Wallyno placed third. Shirlaf, Giuseppe Puttini's Swan 65 won the Mini Maxi RC2 Class ahead of H2O and Lunz Am Meer.
Tonino Cacace, owner/helmsman of Wally 94' Magic Blue: “We're hoping to finish this event as well as we've started it. Today's conditions, with breezes at 12 knots, were perfect for us. Luckily the wind didn't build, because then the smaller boats would have been favoured. We sailed perfectly upwind and got away well from a crowded start. Today's results help give us confidence for the future because in the past we haven't always done as well as we would have liked to.”
Terry Hutchinson, tactician aboard the Maxi72 Bella Mente: “I sailed along today's course in June aboard a TP52, it's wonderful and presents lots of tactical opportunities. Today's breeze was a little stronger than it was predicted to be and we did a good upwind leg to Spargi, holding off Proteus every time we found ourselves with less air. The team worked really well and our new and slightly bigger fin, similar to ones aboard other yachts, seems to be working well.”
Tomorrow most Classes will do another coastal race while the Maxi72s and the Wallys will race along windward/leeward courses. The weather is predicted to be similar to today's with light Mistral breezes between 7 and 13 knots that will turn from the north to the west over the course of the day. But these breezes could be run up against thermal breezes to create wind holes. Racing is scheduled to start at 11:30 AM.