On the brink?

We talk to some of the owners about the tough decisions facing the IRC Mini Maxi and STP65 classes
This week, as the many thousand photographs we’ve published are testament, has been the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup down in glamorous Porto Cervo, the first occasion that all the latest 60-79ft Mini Maxis, have all sailed together. Eight boats have been on the start line of the racing division – the two Judel-Vrolijk STP65s Luna Rossa and Container joined for this regatta by the original STP65, the Farr-designed Rosebud/Team DYT while the IRC maxis that have been racing on the circuit regularly this season – Hap Fauth’s Reichel-Pugh 68 Bella Mente, Andres Sorriano’s Mills 68 Alegre and Niklas Zennstrom’s J-V 72 Ran 2 have been joined by a heavily rebuilt Alfa Romeo, Neville Crichton’s Reichel Pugh design that has now been extended from 68 to 72ft. Unfortunately the class still have a number of teething problems, that if left unresolved have every potential to scupper the class. This is combined with the global economic woes that are perhaps the main reason that at present there is no word of any new boats due to launch in 2010, although Rolf Vrolijk, the designer most prolific in the class, says there are some plans afoot within his office for a 68 footer to be launched in 2011 as well as some other 60 footers, although he doesn’t think these latter ones will compete as Mini Maxis. This situation has also not been helped by the problems experienced by the 2007 Reichel Pugh designs that suffered severe balance and chine-related problems, that required monster surgery to be carried out on Alfa Romeo and Bella Mente, while early STP65 advocate Jim Swartz ended up abandoning his R-P designed STP65 Moneypenny , now donated to the US Merchant Marine Academy who race it under the name Vanquish, while he has down-sized to the Melges 32