Porto Cervo, Italy. 8th June 2016. Saudade, the standout winners of the event last year, made a successful start to their defence of the Superyacht division title at the Loro Piana Superyacht Regatta on the Costa Smeralda today winning the Class A coastal course. The off-the-shelf 31 nautical mile standard passage race out to Spargi island and back proved relatively straightforward, save for a nasty sting in the tail. During the final minutes of the race the north-westerly breeze was upended by a new stronger southerly wind which moved in suddenly.
Managing this rapid transition proved important but even though Saudade achieved this successfully to win by 19 seconds on corrected time, it was not without the need for a short stay in 'sail hospital' for their wounded gennaker.
“Everything went so well. We were all really happy until the last six or seven minutes and we went straight into the transition. We had the kite all over the rig and tears all through the kite, but luckily we are the first ones on the dock and so can get the sail into the loft.” Smiled Michael Wilson, Boat Captain of the Saudade “If we can get out of situations like we just had and still get across the line and win, then we are in with a chance for the rest of the regatta.”
Just as Saudade made a good opening in division A, so too did Grande Orazio – division winner last year – in Class B. Owner driver Massimiliano Florio attributed their win today, by over one minute, to 'very good crew work and good boat speed. It was a fantastic day.' Second place went to the Nauta-designed Southern Wind Whisper while Pier Luigi Loro Piana's My Song clinched third place. Local knowledge clearly pays as each of the top three boats fly the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda burgee.
If the last transition proved key for some, for the highly competitive 12-boat Wally class it was the start and the transit into the east of 'Bomb Alley' which set the order at the front of their fleet. Volvo Ocean Race winner Ian Walker as tactician working with strategist Tom Whidden conspired to set up a good, strong start for Sir Lindsay Owen-Jones on the helm of his Magic Carpet 3, which went on to win by a comfortable 3 mins and 38 seconds on corrected time.
Double Olympic medallist Walker recalled: “We made a great start up at the right hand end of the line and so we were ahead of Open Season at the first cross. The boat is going a bit better with a new mainsail and so we were just able to hold off Open Season. We held them off all the way up the beat. When we set they set a reaching sail and we set a running sail and the wind lifted, so they had to peel (change to a running kite) and that is where we made our time. But we just sailed a really clean, tidy race. We could not have done anything much better. We were lucky to be through the finish before the transition.”
Owner Sir Lindsay Owen-Jones commented: ” Any day we can finish ahead of our rival which has a speed advantage over us is a wonderful day for us. So beating the fleet as well, winning, well we are thrilled.”
The Wallys raced clockwise around La Maddalena island, setting kites at the mark off the island's north-west tip for a brisk run back outside the island of Caprera to the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda finish line just to the south of the entrance to the harbour.
Crews kicked back at the daily after-race refreshment in Piazza Azzurra while owners prepared for a gala evening at the Loro Piana Owners Dinner at the YCCS Clubhouse, showcasing cutting-edge Italian cuisine from 3 michelin starred chef Niko Romito, as well as
a concert by renowned pianist Dimitri Naiditch.
Racing in the event, organised by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda in collaboration with Boat International Media, is scheduled to continue tomorrow, Thursday 9th June, at 11.30. Winds are forecast to be a little stronger than today with 15-18 knots expected.