Indicative of how tight competition is between the 40 boats, lead changes again proliferated on day three of the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup and Rolex Maxi 72 World Championship, organised by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda and the International Maxi Association.
With a similar lumpy sea to yesterday, the northeast wind started at around 20 knots, but steadily dropped to sub-10 knots. The Maxi 72s and Wallys returned to racing two windward-leewards directly off Porto Cervo, while the remainder sailed a similar 38 nautical mile course to yesterday around Arcipelago di La Maddalena, only in the reverse, clockwise direction.
In the Super Maxi class, Marco Vogele’s 33m Inoui won today's race and now holds a two point advantage over yesterday’s leader Viriella, the Maxi Dolphin 118 of Vittorio Moretti.
The Irish Southern Wind 94, Windfall, claimed her second straight bullet in the Maxi Racer Cruiser class, allowing her a point’s lead over her smaller sister, Massimiliano Florio’s Southern Wind 82, Grande Orazio Pioneer Investments.
Florio, who earlier this year competed in the International Maxi Association’s Volcano Race, said: “Today we came second, but we are very pleased with the performance of the crew and of the boat. The conditions didn’t suit us, but we expect over the next days to regain first place.” On board Grande Orazio Pioneer Investments, Florio races mostly with friends and family, including his brother Francesco, and the odd professional such as Volvo Ocean Race sailor, Alberto Bolzan.
In the Rolex Maxi 72 World Championship, the big winner was German Dieter Schön’s MOMO, which claimed both today’s races. Moving her into the lead, she is just 1.5 points ahead of Hap Fauth's Bella Mente, in turn a quarter point ahead of Roberto Tomasini Grinover's Robertissima III.
Schön was satisfied with his team's performance on what is the Maxi 72 class’ latest boat: “We made some good starts and when you are coming out quick then you have a good chance to be first at the first mark.” However he found today’s conditions hard: “For me it was difficult to steer, because of the waves – it was super choppy.”
Schön relishes the closeness of the competition, where tiny errors are penalised heavily. In fact MOMO led today after winning the pin in both races. As tactician Marcus Weiser observed: “If you could get off the pin with good acceleration you had all the pace to go where you wanted to, because the boats behind were tacking on each other. You could just sail your own race and stretch away.”
In the Mini Maxi Racing class, it remains similarly tight at the top. The new Mark Mills-designed 62, Supernikka of new International Maxi Association member Roberto Lacorte claimed the day and regained the lead from Maximilian Klink's Botin 65, Caro. Peter Dubens’ Mani Frers-designed 60ft daysailer, Spectre, finished second today, leaving her third overall but just two points adrift of first.
“It wasn’t bad, today, but we had a few issues – the spinnaker released early and then we lost electrics on the mainsail,” advised Dubens.
Spectre is a special boat with ultra-low freeboard, a reverse ‘Dreadnought’ bow and canvas seats rather solid benches in her cockpit. She is quick too – yesterday hitting 19 knots.
“It is nice to see a St Tropez day sailer, coastal racing,” continued Dubens, competing in his first Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup. “The concept was that we have a house in France so we can take the family out for the day but also to do regattas.”
Elsewhere at the top of the combined Mini Maxi Racer Cruiser and Spirit of Tradition classes just one point separates Giuseppe Puttini's Swan 65, Shirlaf, and long term Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup participant Riccardo de Michele's Vallicelli 80, H20.
In the Wallys, Thomas Bscher's elongated, former WallyCento, Open Season maintained her perfect scoreline, securing two more bullets today. This leaves Sir Lindsay Owen Jones' Magic Carpet Cubed and Jean Clarles Decaux's Wally 77 J One fighting for second, both on 11 points, with IMA President Claus Peter Offen and his Wally 100 Y3K gunning hard in fourth.
This seems to be the pecking order in the Wally class, maintains Alberto Palatchi, the Spanish owner of the Wally 94, Galma: “We were fifth today and are sixth out of 13 – so in the top half. We have been improving every day and our objective is to finish fifth. In front of us the two Centos defend their handicaps well and are the latest generation. Y3K is well sailed and J One is 20 years old but can still win any race.”
Like many owners, Palatchi, who runs the annual Menorca Maxi regatta (now into its second year), will be attending tonight’s International Maxi Association dinner at the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda. “I am delighted to be part of IMA,” said Palatchi. “I am the only Spanish maxi owner and I’m very pleased to be here. It is a privilege to be among all these experienced sailors.”
Contrary to the schedule, racing will continue tomorrow with the Race Committee having moved the layday on to Friday when the forecast indicates there will be no wind at all.
Full results here