Two bullets for Bella Mente
After yesterday’s unseasonal stormy conditions that causing racing to be abandoned, proceedings resumed today at the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup in Porto Cervo in winds ranging from 6 to 16 knots and a lumpy left-over sea state.
The 12-strong Mini Maxi fleet sailed two 10 mile windward-leewards while remaining 22 boats, spread across four classes, negotiated a 38nm coastal course, which took them into the Maddalena Archipelago at Capo Ferro before a reach up to Monaci and long leg to windward outside the islands to Barrettinelli. En route back to the finish off Porto Cervo, the fleet headed downwind through Bomb Alley.
In the Mini Maxi World Championship, American Hap Fauth's new Judel/Vrolijk 72 Bella Mente won the day with two convincing bullets ahead of Shockwave and Stig respectively in the first race of the day, and ahead of Caol Ila R (ex-Alegre) and Shockwave in the second. Today's excellent performance in the two windward-leeward races held for the class leaves Bella Mente in first place in the overall provisional classification ahead of Niklas Zennstrom's Rán in second place and Caol Ila R in third.
Niklas Zennström's Rán team demonstrated their cool under pressure on what proved to be something of a Friday the 13th day for this normally immaculate campaign. Before the start of the first race they broke their boom and matters got worse from there.
Ado Stead explained: "About an hour 10 before the start we sheeted on to go upwind, it was quite lumpy and unfortunately our inshore boom broke just behind the vang fitting. We are not sure why, but basically we are fortunate enough to have our offshore boom in the container, so we threw some big lads in the RIB to go in and get it, headed in, did a seamless change and basically managed to turn it around and get back out for the first race, which was great."
The boom was loaded on to the Ran RIB, delivered to the boat in the flat water of the harbour and swapped out with the broken spar. On a Mini Maxi this is no small task. "We managed to redo the hydraulics for the outhaul and get it all pinned out. But the whole outhaul system – the boom wasn’t quite ready to go so it needed a bit doing and we fitted a new mainsheet which we damaged when the boom broke."
Originally they thought that they would be able to get out in time for the second race but in the event they managed to make the start of the first with 15 minutes to spare! "Luckily we were the last start," Stead continued. "We had a reasonable first race – we missed Bella Mente, she had a very good start off the boat and we were in the frame. Having got past Shockwave and attacking Stig, Shockwave had a little play out to the right while Stig and us were engaged and played through again."
Coming fourth in the first race the technical team led by Brendan Darrer and Willie Beavis had their work cut out again when five minutes before the start of the second race the hydraulics for the outhaul within the new boom blew up. "Basically we had about 2ft of mainsail depth at the boom in the five minutes and were trying to figure out a way of stopping it sliding any more. Willie and Brendan came up with a way of stopping the sliding but it was a trade off between trying to get some form of start and some form of first beat with Willy’s hand inside the boom as he tried to lash it all. We were pleased to get around the top mark in third and we managed to get Stig down the run and keep them behind us down the run. But then we also blew up an A2 down the second run. And I believe the RIB has just broken down!"
Still posting two fourths today in the circumstances was a fine result when for a lesser team it could easily have been two DNFs. The feeling within the team was that their bad luck had been caused by not having Catherine Zennström on board today.
Elsewhere at the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup the winners today were Esimit Europa 2 (SLO) in Maxi Racing; Nilaya (GBR) in Supermaxi, who are both leading overall, plus Altair (ITA) was today in Maxi Racing/Cruising; and Open Season (GBR) in Wally where Aegir and Magic Carpet 2 are the overall leaders in these classes.
In the Wally class an absorbing competition is developing. The first day’s racing saw Sir Lindsay Owen Jones’ 28.53m Magic Carpet 2 (GBR) – winners in 2008 – prevail over the 2007 champion J-One (GBR), owned by Jean-Charles Decaux. Without four-time winner Y3K (GER), the eight-strong Wally class looks an open contest, gaining further appeal by virtue of the appearance of Charles Dunstone’s Hamilton (GBR), the first Wally Cento.
Today Magic Carpet 2 lost out following a tussle with Thomas Bscher’s 28.6m Open Season (GBR). “Ironically, we didn’t sail as well on the first day as we did today,” commented Tom Whidden, Magic Carpet 2’s Tactical Advisor. “We gained quite a bit going up to the top mark in the northeast corner and had a large lead on the rest of the class. When we went inside the islands it got quite tricky as the wind in some areas went to nothing.” It was here that the remainder of the fleet compressed and Open Season proved more able to navigate smoothly through the light spots.
“Conditions were much better than yesterday although it remained difficult to read what was going to happen,” explained Nacho Postigo, navigator on Open Season. “We had an even match raced with Magic Carpet. They are generally a little bit faster than us, but today we managed to come back and gain downwind.” While Magic Carpet starts as one of the favourites for the Wally crown, Open Season is a dark horse contender. “Provided we sail the best we can, the owner is very relaxed,” continued Postigo. “His goal is to come back home and feel proud, and today he is very happy.”
Both Whidden and Postigo are closely observing the performance of Hamilton, which today finished in fourth place following a seventh place in race one. “People shouldn’t be fooled by [their] times as it is the very first time they race,” warned Postigo. “They have a lot of great sailors and the learning curve is very steep.”