Results stand as racing abandoned at Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup

The final day of racing at the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, pinnacle of the International Maxi Association’s race season, looked marginal due to a well forecast Mistral, nonetheless the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda’s race committee, led by Peter Craig, made a valiant effort to hold a final short coastal race for the 46 maxis.

They advanced the start by two hours to 1000am and shifted the start area south away from the Costa Smeralda’s strongest winds. Sadly, it was to no avail. As the gun went for the Maxi class start, so the AP flag was hoisted and racing was abandoned.

The elegant J Class downwind – Carlo Borlenghi pic

Andy Beadsworth, strategist on Velsheda, a J Class with a 52m tall mast, observed: “As we pulled the mainsail up the wind hit 28-29 knots. Ultimately it was a solid 25-26 gusting 30. It was a good effort and we were all in, but it was the right call.”

Yesterday Svea had won the J Class with a day to spare, as did the Swan 115, Shamanna in the Super Maxi class. By coincidence, both are Swedish owned.

Shamanna’s crew is a mix of the owner’s friends and pros led by British former America’s Cup and round the world race sailor, Guy Barron. With several Super Maxis withdrawing with gear failure, the class was a war of attrition.

Svea won the J class – Studio Borlenghi pic

“Coming to Sardinia, your boat has to get around the course – that it is one of the big things,” said Barron as the party was getting started on Shamanna’s aft deck.

“A big hand to the crew and skipper Chris Brand to put this together and not break anything. This is the fourth time I have won at the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup and my first time in the Super Maxi class. We’ll definitely come back and do it again.”

The toughest competition came in the biggest class, the Maxis. Going into the final day, Lord Irvine Laidlaw’s Reichel/Pugh 82, Highland Fling XI, was seven points clear of David M. Leuschen’s Wallycento Galateia. Andrea Recordati’s Wally 93, Bullitt, was a further four points adrift in third.

These results standing came as relief for Lord Laidlaw, whom, while leading last year, witnessed victory slip through his fingers due to a broken forestay.

“I decided to hold onto this wonderful boat for another year, just to finish on a high. This event has been really perfect – great competition, with fantastic racing. The Maxi fleet is very high quality. Of all the years I have been coming , this is the finest fleet, so it is especially good to win against them. As always, Porto Cervo has proved to be the best place in the world to race.”

Highland Fling XI was the stand-out victor in the Maxi class – Studio Borlenghi pic

In fact, if racing had occurred today, it might have proved difficult for Highland Fling XI, as the J4 headsail tore during hoisting.

“We would have loved to race today, but it would have been difficult to put up the J3 in that much wind. With 28 knots at the start and 30 knots at Charlie and Uniform marks, Peter [Craig] made the right decision.”

After 13 years, this was Highland Fling XI’s final regatta with Laidlaw. She will be racing at Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez under new ownership, while Laidlaw turns his attentions to racing multihulls, with the launch of his new Gunboat 80 catamaran due next year.

Jim Swartz’s Vesper sealed the deal in the Mini Maxi 1 class. For the former Maxi 72s, the leaderboard was closest going into the final day in Mini Maxi 2, with Alessandro Del Bono’s RP ILC maxi Capricorno one point ahead of the IMA’s 2021 Yacht of the Year, Luciano Gandini’s Mylius 80 FD Twin Soul B. Sven Wackerhagen’s Wally 80, Rose, was three points behind, tied in turn with Jean-Pierre Barjon’s Spirit of Lorina.

Capricorno defended her title from 2021: “It has been very close with Twin Soul B, which sailed very well,” admitted tactician Flavio Favini. It was a good competition – a bit of everything, light air and windy, but unfortunately no race today. It would be very interesting to see the performance in the high wind.”

Her victory this year marks the 25th anniversary of when, as Hasso Plattner’s Morning Glory, she won her first Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup. Today, as an ILC maxi, she lacks beam and reaching potential compared to her newer rivals.

Winning this year’s event, with plenty of coastal course and reaching conditions, is a testament to her highly experienced crew, many of whom competed with Del Bono’s father Rinaldo in his winning Admiral’s Cup team in 1996.

H20 – the only yacht to finish with a perfect score – Studio Borlenghi pic

Conversely, Mini Maxi 3-4 was where Riccardo de Michele’s H20 scored the biggest win, the only yacht to post a perfect scoreline. Much of the reason behind H20’s extraordinary performance comes down to sheer hard graft. Her persistent owner has entered H20 in every edition of the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup since 2007.

De Michele’s competitive touch paper was lit when H20 finally won the last race of the 2014 Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup. Since then, the silver Vallicelli 78 has been serial class winner here – in 2015, then 2017-2019 and finally this year, finishing third in 2016, 2019 and 2021.

“I am very proud of my team and of my boat,” de Michele commented. “This week was really lovely and very interesting from a sailing point of view. I think the committee took the right decision when they cancelled today’s race – the wind was getting too strong. Otherwise, we enjoyed winds that are typical for Porto Cervo in September.”

At this afternoon’s prizegiving, held in the Piazza outside the YCCS’s clubhouse in Porto Cervo, class winners received their Rolex timepieces while the owner of the Wallycento Galateia, David M. Leuschen, was awarded the trophy for the best placed IMA member.

Next year, the IMA and YCCS intend to dispense with the Maxi and Mini Maxi classes and their 80ft length division. Instead, yachts of 60-100ft will simply be grouped together with similar IRC TCC ratings.

Full results:

James Boyd/International Maxi Association

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