Stars turn out for Laureus regatta

Andy Rice rubs shoulders with Hollywood stars at the glitzy match race event in Monte Carlo
Francesco Bruni looking pretty pleased with himself There was no disguising Francesco Bruni’s glee at winning a top-of-the-range Mercedes for coming out on top in the Laureus Regatta in Monte Carlo. A £70,000 car that hasn’t even be released on to the market is not a bad reward for two days of match racing on the calm Mediterranean waters in front of the principality of Monaco. Considering the prize on offer, it is not hard to understand why some eminent America’s Cup campaigners and Olympic medallists found the time out of their busy schedules to compete at this event. Tommaso Chieffi won the inaugural event two years ago, but he has failed to add another Mercedes to his collection since then. In fact, the member of Oracle Racing’s afterguard finished last of the eight skippers, just behind last year’s winner, double Olympic medallist JJ Isler. Not that they were complaining, too much anyway. At the end of the first day’s round robin, when Chieffi had failed to register a single victory from four heats, the Italian voiced his criticisms about the mismatch of Swan yachts used in the regatta. But all the skippers accepted invites to this event knowing that this would not be a true match race. Race officer John Doerr and team had done their best to equalise the eight unique Swan yachts as closely as possible, but match racers of this quality will always sniff out differences in two supposedly identical one-designs - let alone luxury cruising yachts of different lengths, weights and sail areas. So GBR Challenge’s Ian Walker was able to smile about his round-robin performance, which wasn’t much better than Chieffi’s, while Shirley Robertson and JJ Isler were also to see the keys to the Mercedes slip from their grasp after the first day. The two