Where have all the Mumm's gone?
The event is the first major race of the year for the Mediterranean Mumm fleet and this year saw 29 entries from Monaco, France, Switzerland, Italy, and Britain. The six British teams, many of whom had endured marathon journeys to escape the snow and ice at home, were those of Geoff Gibbon (Mumbo Jumbo), Jack Kelly (in a chartered “Moonshine”), Robin Fielder (Warp Factor), Nigel Gibb and his Dickies Yacht Sales team, David Knight (Bogo Pogo) and Louis Browne (Asterix). However, perhaps the most exciting entry was Camilla Berti’s all-girl Italian team in Mordilla / Prima Power Bikes.
Saturday morning was bright and sunny with a clear blue sky and a light south westerly wind. The first race was started in a shifty eight knot breeze and the Mumms eventually got under way after two general recalls. Lumpy seas and light winds made for difficult conditions. Banco Unicredito, an Italian boat with French 470 Olympian Nicholas Charbonnier calling the shots, finished first on the water only to find that they were OCS, leaving the Swiss boat Olympic Systems in first place.
By race two the breeze had built to about twelve knots. Asterix led for two laps but was then overtaken by Banco Unicredito. Towards the end of the final beat Asterix initiated a tacking duel which enabled them to get past the Italians who also lost out by half a length to the French boat Ville d’Antibes.
Racing on Sunday was delayed by a total lack of wind. Eventually racing was started in feeble three to six knot zephyrs as uncertain in direction as they were in strength and which gradually died during the course of the morning. Marseille, who won the event last year, led at the first windward mark closely followed by Banco Unicredito. The Italians then showed their class by building an enormous lead by the leeward mark and then extending to win by several minutes. For the rest of the fleet the race was a game of roulette played out under the walls of Monte Carlo. The fortunes of Marseille tell the whole story: the early leaders eventually finished 28th.
After a long wait for a breeze that never arrived, the race officers called it a day. The boats headed back for the harbour and then their crews headed off either to the airport or the ski slopes. It had been a frustrating day but there are worse ways to spend a Sunday afternoon in February than lying in the sun adrift off Monaco and any way, there’s always next weekend to look forward to.