Open Season breaks Spirit of Lorina’s winning streak at Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup

Issued by the International Maxi Association on 08/09/2023

The Costa Smeralda on Sardinia’s northeastern tip is laying on the full array of conditions for this week’s Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, organised by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda in conjunction with the International Maxi Association. After a strong start, crews regrouped after Thursday’s layday for today’s shifty winds that barely touched 10 knots and were more typically 5-6.

Maxi A and B were scheduled to sail two windward-leewards, but only managed one before the wind died. With a shut down forecast around La Maddalena, the other classes headed south on an anticlockwise lap of Mortorio and Soffi, although their course was ultimately shortened.

Finally in Maxi C the stranglehold of Jean-Pierre Barjon and his 65ft Spirit of Lorina was broken, not by a regular winner like Riccardo De Michele’s 78ft H2O, but by the brand new Baltic 68 Café Racer Open Season of former International Maxi Association President Thomas Bscher.

Comparing her to his previous 107 footer, which he last raced here in 2017, Bscher said: “It is wide and short, so it behaves differently. You can’t ‘shoot’ because momentum is immediately gone, but the boat runs fabulously and we improve every day.” The new Open Season has strong eco-credentials with an electric engine and requires little power.

Having not campaigned for five years, Bscher has recruited a new crew. Tactician, Matt Humphries, explained that yesterday they had been out training: “That really got Thomas dialled in on the driving, which he is doing amazingly well, and it paid dividends on the tricky first beat. After the windward mark we had a reach and we were the first boat to gybe set which got us into a nice position.”

Ultimately Open Season won by just 19 seconds from the current IMA President Benoît de Froidmont’s Wally 60 Wallyño, with Gerald Logel’s Swan 601 @robas another 12 seconds behind under IRC. Overall Spirit of Lorina holds an 11 point lead – mathematically beatable, but unlikely. A much closer fight is for the final podium positions between H20, Oscar 3 and Grande Orazio (within one point) and Wallyño another two back.

“Light conditions is what Wallyño likes,” said de Froidmont. “She is much more competitive in light air and flat sea. The crew has been as usual extremely efficient and we sailed quite well. In general we are happy with the result. As usual we had tough competition with @robas.”

Closer is the battle in Maxi B, where among the former Maxi 72s Hap Fauth’s Bella Mente scored her second consecutive win, beating Pepe Cannonball by three minutes 38 seconds, with Sir Peter Ogden’s Jethou third. This has left Bella Mente holding a three point lead going into the final day from Proteus.

“We are super pleased with how the boat is going,” commented Bella Mente’s tactician Adrian Stead. “Today was tricky with little streaks of breeze, little current lines, chop and having Maxi A ten minutes ahead of us made finding a lane up the beats hard. We controlled Proteus up the first beat, but Cannonball got the first cross on us. We managed to get the top left off her and crossed and left quite a bit of chaos behind us.”

Peter Harrison, who previously campaigned the Maxi 72 Sorcha and has helmed Pepe Cannonball this week, confirmed today he has bought the boat from Dario Ferrari. “You would think because of my old 72, it would be like riding a bike – well, it’s not!” claimed Harrison. “It is a different bit of kit: it is a much newer boat, much lighter boat, the systems are different, she goes upwind differently, downwind differently…”

In Maxi A there was a second victory for Andrea Recordati’s 93ft Bullitt, by four mins 18 seconds from David M Leuschen and Chris Flowers’ 100ft Galateia with Sir Lindsay Owen Jones’ Magic Carpet Cubed third and Wendy Schmidt’s 80ft Deep Blue fourth.

“It was a very good day for us – very difficult and very different since it was windward-leewards,” explained Bullitt tactician Joca Signorini. “We started okay, but it was quite a bit right-shifted and everyone bunched up. We were more to leeward, but managed to get a better position and didn’t have to tack early. On the second upwind we played well some pressure lines and managed to stay in contact with Galateia.” The 93 footer spent the race up with the 100 footers.

Overall in Maxi A, Galateia holds a commanding lead, leaving the fight for the remaining podium spots between Bullitt, the 100ft Leopard 3 and Pier Luigi Loro Piana’s Club Swan 80 My Song which are all tied on points, eight behind the leader.

It is also close in the Super Maxi class where today a second bullet for Juan Ball’s Swan 115 Moat has left her one point behind Claus-Peter Offen’s y3k. In third place today was Christian Oldendorf’s Spirit 111 Geist. Boat captain Justin Pope commented; “It was a little bit light, but it was shortened at the right time. The race committee always do a good job here.” Among Geist’s crew this week have been a mix of amateurs and pros including America’s Cup sailors Paul Campbell-James and Pete Cumming.

In the new Maxi Multihull class, Lord Irvine Laidlaw’s Gunboat 80 Highland Fling 18 won for a second day, this time by 16 minutes from Don Wilson and Suna Said’s Gunboat 68 Convexity 2 with Adrian Keller’s 84ft Allegra third.

“It was light but interesting…” explained Highland Fling 18’s French multihull guru Loick Peyron, “It was nice apart from the chop on port, which was wasn’t fun for anyone. We are still discovering new stuff. I was quite surprised by the 68 [Convexity2] – I thought she could have won.”

Peyron first experienced Porto Cervo when he sailed a 50ft catamaran to victory here in the Course de l’Europe in 1985. He is proud that the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup has adopted multihulls for the first time. “It is a compliment. For so long multihulls were the outsiders like we were here in 1985 – no longer!”

The only class where the winner has already been decided is among the three Js where Niklas Zennström and Filip Engelbert’s 43.6m Svea has scored a perfect five bullets from five races. Tactician Bouwe Bekking explained this race: “It was super light with really weird sheer and twisting and big holes as well. We were first across the line. We did a couple of tacks, because we played some shifts, but it was difficult. Once we reached the top mark there was a nice little breeze and the rest of the race was quite good. We rolled Velsheda out of a gybe then they gybed off and then there was less pressure.” Topaz split, heading into the shore where she lost out. This left the race between Svea and Velsheda. “Around Soffi, on the wind, we just stuck it really high and they were sailing in our gas. They were effected the whole beat,” continued Bekking.

Of the week, IMA President Benoît de Froidmont said: “We can only be pleased and proud when we look at the fleet at this edition. We are used to large fleet but the high level here is exceptional. It has been a beautiful week with different weather conditions every day.”

The start of tomorrow’s final race has been brought forward to 1100 local time.

by James Boyd / International Maxi Association

Visit the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup website here.

For more information on the International Maxi Association visit www.internationalmaxiassociation.com

Classes competing at the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup:
Super Maxi – LH of 30.51+ m (100+ft) racing under ORCsy
Js – under their own JCA rule.
Maxi Multihull – under ORCmh.
‘Mini Maxi’ has been dispensed with, now integrated into a larger ‘Maxi’ fleet encompassing LH 18.29-30.51m or 60-100ft. The Maxi class is divided into:
Maxi A: IRC TCC 1.700< (roughly what used to be the ‘Maxi Racing’ class).
Maxi B: IRC TCC 1.600-1.700 (ie ex-Maxi 72s and smaller Maxis, VO65s)
Maxi C: IRC TCC <1.600 (former Mini Maxi classes)

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