DSK edges ahead
Sailors at the Rolex Swan Cup arrived to the start area today off Porto Cervo to find conditions that were 180 degrees opposite of the prior day. Gone were the lumpy seas, instead a sea tranquillo. Gone also was the big breeze, instead a light zephyr in its place. But off the Costa Smeralda it can be feast or famine, all in the same day.
By 1300, the Maxi Class A was off in a light northwesterly breeze of 6 – 10 knots. The Maxis set off on a 31 nautical mile romp, upwind inside La Maddalena islands, clockwise around Spargi, and back down bomb alley which, by then, was a bit closer to living up to its name as the breeze built to 20 knots. Now the bigger boats could stretch on the smaller boats gybing downwind, dodging the Maddalena ferries, past Secco di Tre Monti, between the lighthouses of Isola delle Bisce and Capo Ferro and down into Golfo Pevero for the finish. Leading the Maxis around the course was Danilo Salsi’s Frers-designed Swan 90 DSK Pioneer Investments (ITA). DSK finished first on the water – getting around the course just shy of three hours – and also on corrected time, and now leads Class A after two races. While there are newer boats in the Maxi class, tactician Andrea Casale attributes DSK’s crews time in the boat in several key races, that has put them ahead of other boats still in the learning process.
Casale said: “Today was a tricky day, because of the light wind – that was the forecast. These days are crucial; you can have big gains or big losses if you have the wrong strategy. We won the start; we were leading after the start in the fleet, so if you are first at the offset mark it is always an easy job because you are clear, ou just watch the wind, you don’t have the traffic. There was a big difference between here (off Porto Cervo) and up there, in Spargiotto, so basically we started with 10 knots and there were 20 knots up there. This is a big difference on this yacht because you have to change sails, you are in a different scenario.”
The Grand Prix Class B and the Classics sailed a 21-nautical mile race, reaching into the Golfo di Arzachena to round Secco di Tre Monte, upwind around Isola dei Monaci, then downwind into the Golfo Pevero to the finish. The Swan 53 Silveren Swaen (NED) finished first and with their second place finish of yesterday, now lead their class. Navigator Rudi Jurg gave high marks to the crew: “We put a lot of effort into training this morning, making sure that the sail settings were correct. We had a plan of attack after yesterday’s bad start. We were still a little bit under at the start, but we managed to tack away from the trouble and were fourth at the first windward mark. The crew was extremely focused today, giving the maximum all the time, looking ahead to what’s happening, what we needed to do.”
In the Classic Class, Peter Simon’s Swan 65 Monsoon Jaguar (GBR) posted another win to lead the class overall and show what the 30-year old design can still achieve. 41 of these Sparkman & Stephens 65-footers were built between 1972 and 1989, four sloops, the rest ketches. One of the most famous of these was Sayula II, winner of the first Whitbread Round the World Race in 1973/4.
Simon bought his sloop-rigged boat 16 years ago; in 2005, the boat was refit with a new mast, new rigging, sails, and deck layout – all to improve the performance of the boat, not only for cruising but also for the occasional regatta. Monsoon competed in the Rolex Swan Cup in 2006, finishing 4th in class, and is back for their second time. Boat captain Eddie Craighill said: "We have an excellent crew. So far we’ve proven the boat is very well set up for the conditions; she needs a good breeze (like the past two days) to get her going, but she’s 33 tons after all."
The Swan 45 class, competing in the Rolex Swan 45 World Championship, managed three races in today’s building breeze. Defending champion Nico Poons’ Charisma (NED) started off in charge with two wins. For the third race, Charisma was mid-line and over early and had to go back and restart, putting her back of the pack. Midway down the first ‘run’, a dramatic wind shift of over 110 degrees had the boats quickly dousing spinnakers, now on a close reach. At the bottom gate, with a course change to 190 degrees signaled, the fleet headed upwind for the third time. Charisma eventually worked her way back to finish fifth. Earlybird (GER), the 2008 Swan 45 World Champion, which finished 5-5 in the days’ prior races, and crossed the line 1st, now leads the class overall. Skipper Hendrik Brandis described the day: “We did not live up to our potential in the first two races. We had two bad starts and in such a competitive class it is difficult to climb back to the head of the fleet. On the third race (today) we had just a perfect start, good speed and position. We managed to lead from the start to the finish.”
The five-boat Swan 42 class sailed two windward-leeward races on the same course as the Swan 45s. Kora 4 (ITA) went 1-2 today, with Leonardo Ferragamo’s Cuor de Leone (ITA) taking the other day’s win. Kora 4 leads the class, five points ahead of Natalia (ROM) in second place.
One of the best elements of the Swan regattas is how the company embraces its strong heritage, the roots of which produced such iconic designs as the Swan 65, Swan 47, and Swan 38. This year the organisers decided to highlight this with the inclusion of the 'Classic' Class, which features those yachts designed by Sparkman & Stephens for Nautor’s Swan, over a period from 1967–1989. Over the 20+ year period more than 800 yachts were built, an incredibly prodigious production of these fast and sea-kindly yachts.
Of the approximately 15 design models that S&S conceived, it was one of the smallest, the Swan 38 that touched a nerve with cruiser/racers and 116 of the boats were built over a period of only five years.
At the Rolex Swan Cup, three of these yachts are competing in the Classics Class. The Swan 38 Only You (ITA), is here for the second time. Owners Matteo & Giulia Salamon, from Milan, bought their boat in 1999 and participated in the Rolex Swan Cup in 2000 for the first time. Now ten years later, they are back again. Of the first days’ racing, Salamon said: "Tough conditions, not about the wind, which was nearly nothing for a Swan, and especially a Sparkman & Stephens Swan. But the sea was quite rough and small boats really suffer from the high waves. But, there were a lot small boats that had much better results than we had, so we were not so good as the other ones, but we had really great fun. Today there will be light winds, so we have no excuse!"
Francesco Persio’s Swan 47 Dream (ITA) was launched in 1975, one of 70 of this S&S model built between 1975–1984. Persio sails with his wife and their 2-year and 6-year old children in the Mediterranean during the summer. Persio said: “I have chosen this boat because it is very secure and good regarding seamanship. Of course we have prepared for this regatta. We changed sails, we have good ones and we have an excellent crew. We have been very happy because we did a good result yesterday (a third). This motivates a lot!”
Persio continued, “This is the first time that there is a class for Sparkman & Stephens-designed Swans. It is a positive experience that all the Sparkman & Stephens boats are reunited here from all over the world. It is a good occasion to meet all here and to compete against each other in this race area, to measure the skills of the crews and the boats. The sailing conditions are ideal for these boats, as they were constructed for difficult sailing conditions and the wind was fine to test this type of boats.”
Racing continues tomorrow, Wednesday through Sunday (Saturday for the Swan 45s); all classes will sail an Islands Distance Race tomorrow. Friday is a layday for all classes, but the Swan 45s.
Following racing there will be post-race refreshments on the Piazza Azzurra, as well as glamorous social events throughout the week, including the Owners' Dinner hosted by Rolex and the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda on Friday and Rolex Crew Party on Saturday.
Rolex Swan Cup - provisional results
Place, Boat, Nation, Skipper, Race 1-2, Total Points
Maxi - Class A
1) DSK Pioneer Investment (ITA), Danilo Salsi, 3-1, 4.0 points
2) EMMA (GER), Johann Killinger, 1-4, 5.0
3) WHITE LIE (ITA), Galperti Immobiliare, 2-3, 5.0
Grand Prix - Class B
1) SILVEREN SWAEN (NED), P.H.J. Bakker, 2-1, 3.0 points
2) CLEM (ESP), Amanda Hartley, 1-3, 4.0
3) CRILIA (GER), Heinz-Gerd Stein, 3-2, 5.0
Classics - Class C
1) MONSOON JAGUAR (GBR), Peter Simon, 1-1, 2.0 points
2) SHIRLAF (ITA), Giuseppe Puttini, 2-2, 4.0
3) DREAM (ITA), Francesco Persio, 3-3, 6.0
Rolex Swan 45 World Championship (Class D)
1) EARLYBIRD (GER), Hendrik Brandis, 1-2-5-5-1, 14.0 points
2) CHARISMA (NED), Nico Poons, 3-4-1-1-5, 14.0
3) SAMANTAGA-DUVEL, Phillipe Moorgat/Patrick Van Henr, 6-3-3-3-4, 19.0
Swan 42 - Class E
1) KORA 4 (ITA), Enrico Scerni, 1-1-1-2, 5.0 points
2) NATALIA (ROM), Kdf Energy Romania, 2-2-3-3, 10.0
3) CUOR DI LEONE (ITA), Leonardo Ferragamo, 4-4-2-1, 11.0