Surprise double bullet for Spirit of Lorina as lumpy conditions challenge Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup fleet

Issued by the International Maxi Association on 05/09/2023

After a near perfect opening to the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, day two was more challenging. Conditions had dropped to a 20 knot northerly come start time, but there had been big onshore breeze overnight and a left-over sea state remained, made more lumpy by waves bouncing back off the rocky shoreline.

The Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup is organised by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda in conjunction with the International Maxi Association (IMA) and is the penultimate event in the IMA’s Mediterranean Maxi Inshore Challenge.

In the bigger conditions, all classes sailed coastal courses longer than yesterday’s. This comprised a beat followed by a run south around Mortorio and Soffi, then back northwest to the sanctity, flat water and reduced wind of ‘Bomb Alley’ rounding La Maddalena and on to another downwind. The Maxi Multihulls, Maxi A and B sailed a 46.5 mile version of this, while the Super Maxis and Js sailed 42.5 miles and Maxi C 38.5 miles (the class names are explained below).

In Maxi C, there has been slight upset. Last year Jean-Pierre Barjon’s 65ft Spirit of Lorina may have won the IMA’s Mediterranean Maxi Offshore Challenge but in Sardinia finished half way up the leaderboard in her class. Today she won her second consecutive race and by no small margin –13 minutes 28 second ahead of Riccardo De Michele’s 78 footer H20, which won straight bullets last year.

The French boat may be more optimised for offshores, but now does well inshore too: “Today we had perfect conditions,” said boat captain Benjamin Enon. “We’ve learned to handle this boat in the last year and a half and it is paying off. Yesterday and today were more breezy and we know our boat goes downwind better than some boats like Wallyño. We will see in the next days when it will be lighter…”

Astern, H20 scored two seconds and in third is Aldo Parisotto’s Oscar 3. Today former IMA President Thomas Bscher didn’t compete on his Baltic 68 Café Racer Open Season, nor did Tara Getty’s S&S classic Baruna of 1938. Maxi C was already two light after Dario Castiglia’s Baltic 65 Re/Max One 2 was put out of the regatta yesterday after she struck a rock by La Maddalena at around 12 knots. Sadly Luigi Sala’s Yoru was close behind at the time and, despite taking avoiding action, was unable to avoid ramming her stern, which holed her low down on the port side of her bow.

Enjoying an even better scoreline is the Swedish-owned Svea in the J Class which won both yesterday’s windward-leewards and today’s coastal. Topaz retired after blowing up two kites leaving Svea and Velsheda to match race.

“We had a good race,” said Svea tactician Bouwe Bekking. “We were lucky with the start: Velsheda was coming close to us and Topaz tacked early and were under layline. Downwind the breeze dropped to 12 knots and we had our S4 up, which was not ideal, but if you have a light A-sail up there is so much power on these boats that sails can explode.

“Upwind, around the islands we just controlled them and going through Bomb Alley we set our kite five minutes before them and made a nice gain, but they came back into us again.”

There was delight for Pier Luigi Loro Piana on his Club Swan 80 My Song which won Maxi A. Fastest around the course for a second day was Roberto Lacorte’s Flying Nikka in 2 hours 55 minutes 56 seconds while first non-flying maxi home was Peter Harburg’s 100ft Black Jack in 3 hours 21 minutes and 40 seconds. Yesterday’s Maxi A IRC corrected time winner Leopard 3 was second after David M Leuschen and Chris Flowers’ Galateia and Sir Lindsay Owen-Jones’ Magic Carpet Cubed both blew up kites. EWOL Way of Life retired after she broke her mainsail headboard.

“My crew was fantastic and we made very few mistakes,” said Loro Piana. “It is always really exciting when you go 20 knots, but in 1.5-2m waves you had to be very careful. It wasn’t scary, but everyone has to do the right thing at the right time. This boat is made for around 11 knots, but a boat that doesn’t do well in 20-25 knots is no good.” Since her debut here last year, My Song has had 400kg removed from her bulb, her canard upgraded and her keel cant increased to 45°. They now sail with 24.

In the Super Maxi class there is now a three way tie at the top between Juan Ball’s Swan 115 Moat, Claus-Peter Offen’s 101ft y3k and Marco Vogele’s 108ft Inoui after Moat won today by 1 minutes 48 seconds and Vittorio Moretti’s 118ft Viriella retired.

One of the closest finishes was between the former Maxi 72s in Maxi 2 where George Sakellaris’ Proteus won by just 19 seconds from Hap Fauth’s Bella Mente after Peter Dubens’ North Star retired with bowsprit issues and Cannonball blew up a spinnaker.

“We had a tough start but we ground our way back into the race with a good first downwind. Everything went really smoothly after that,” said Christina Sakellaris, the owner’s Olympic Laser sailor daughter, who divides her time on board between steering, trimming the traveller or the main upwind. “Conditions were quite full on for the first part of the day with a big sea state but super fun – what sail racers love.”

Tactician Morgan Larson described their race: “We were behind on the start and first beat, but we kept it close. Then on the first run the leaders were fairly lifted on port, so we gybed back towards Porto Cervo and made a big gain and got into the lead. Jethou got us back and they, us and Bella Mente were really close until Bella Mente had a big edge on the long reach. The next beat by La Maddalena, Jethou and Bella Mente had a good duel and we lost quite a bit but then we caught back up and we were close enough to Bella Mente.”

While they had blown up no sails, Larson admitted that they had had a hydraulic fluid leak down below. “We have a big clean-up ahead.”

The biggest win by far today was in the Maxi Multihull class where Adrian Keller’s 84ft Allegra won by 1h 37m 38s on ORCmh corrected time from Don Wilson and Suna Said’s Gunboat 68 Convexity2. Lord Irvine Laidlaw’s Gunboat 80 Highland Fling 18 did not compete.

Tactician Paul Larsen said of Allegra’s race: “These were our conditions. It was properly lumpy so we started with one reef which we shook out later – we have an owner-driver and on this course we are sailing in close quarters with two other hot boats.”

Throughout the race Allegra was not able to rest on her laurels with Convexity2 continually coming back into them. “We probably flew the hull as high as we ever have and they were just boatlengths behind us. We were sailing them like F18s both wanting to win on the water.”

Tomorrow, with the wind forecast to lighten, racing may start one hour earlier at 1100.

by James Boyd / International Maxi Association

Visit the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup website here.

For more information on the International Maxi Association visit

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 now 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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