Porto Cervo returns to normal

As Belle Mente comes out on top at the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup for a second day

Thursday September 6th 2012, Author: James Boyd, Location: Italy

The storm clouds had disappeared for Thursday's racing at the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, with temperatures back into the high 20s, a 12-15 knot westerly and a calm sea state.

The Mini Maxi and Wally classes engaged in two windward/leeward races while the remaining classes sailed another coastal course which took them along yesterday's route in reverse: from the start off Porto Cervo to round Monaci island before heading south to the Secca Tre Monti and leaving the natural buoys of the islands of Santo Stefano, La Maddalena and Barrettinelli to starboard. From there the fleet embarked on a long downwind run to the finish off the Gulf of Pevero.

Today’s winners were Bella Mente, in the Mini Maxi Rolex World Championship claiming a bullet and a second place; Velsheda in Maxi Racing; Altair in Maxi Racing/Cruising; Nilaya in Supermaxi and Magic Carpet 2 claimed two victories in the Wally class. Esimit Europa 2 again completed the course in the fastest time, finishing in just over two hours, 35 minutes.

The competition leaders with two days of racing to go are: Bella Mente in the Mini Maxi Rolex World Championship; Velsheda in Maxi Racing; Aegir in Maxi Racing/Cruising; Nilaya in Supermaxi and Magic Carpet 2 in Wally.

In the Mini Maxis it was another good day for American Hap Fauth's new Bella Mente, scoring a 2-1. On six points overall she now leads Niklas Zennstrom's Rán 2 by 4.5. However in the fight for the Mini Maxi World Championship there is still all to play for with at least one more coastal race to sail scoring with a 1.5x co-efficient and non-discardable.

It was a fabulous day’s sailing today, it was warm and sunny and pretty nice moderate and breeze and great racing for us all," said Bella Mente Strategist John Cutler. "We got a really good start on the left hand side of everybody in the first race and trundled off until we hit the shore, got a nice left hand wind up that side and after that it was quite straightforward. There was less current if you went inshore and there was generally a bit of a left hand wind on the port layline which is why you saw all the boats just charging off to the beach each time.

"In the second race Rán did a really nice start at the committee boat end and held us the whole way through. They got clear and stayed in front, which was good."

Rán 2 had another uncharacteristic less than perfect day, following their boom breakage yesterday. On the first race they began to lose hydraulic functions up the first beat, so for example they weren't able to pump the jib lead inboard. This was compounded when they infringed Shockwave coming into the starboard layline close to the top mark and had to carry out a penalty turn for tacking too close.

Rán 2's Adrian Stead recounted: "We got back into the race at the bottom of the first run which was really good, but we didn’t have quite enough on the second beat to cross Stig and it was one of those where another half boatlength just makes you look brilliant and you get across and clear out and get a second. But we didn’t. We ended up fifth because Jethou snuck in with a second and Bella Mente got a good win. But we came out guns blazing for the second race, a very good start and I would say it is the most precise we have raced the boat. I think Niklas [Zennström] was steering the boat really well, the start, the build and the control were excellent. It gave us the first cross and we held on to extend from there. It was nice to finish today with a win."

Stead admitted that at present Bella Mente is currently in the driving seat while the Ran crew have got it all to do if they wish to defend their World Championship title successfully.

Elsewhere Lindsay Owen Jones' Magic Carpet2 claimed two victories today to increase her lead in the eight-boat Wally class. A discard due to come into play after tomorrow's racing, however, could shake up the leaderboard which currently sees Magic Carpet2 trailed by Open Season and J-One.

Among the Racing/Cruising yachts the Swan 90 Altair took a second victory over Brian Benjanmin's Aegir today. Benjamin, however, continues to hold the top spot overall, just one point ahead of Altair. Marco Rodolfi's Swan 80 Berenice Bis sits in third place overall.

Although it was once again Igor Simcic's 100ft Esimit Europa 2 that crossed the finish line first in the Racing division, it was a dramatically different competitor, the J Velsheda, that claimed victory on corrected time today. Irvine Laidlaw's 80ft Highland Fling took second place on corrected time leaving Esimit Europa 2 third and all three boats maintained this same order in the overall standings.

"As we are one of the heavier boats here, Esimit and Highland Fling race away very quickly," said Velsheda's navigator Mike Broughton. "It's been tricky in terms of picking the right sails and very challenging in between the islands. Taking a J-Class within metres of the rocks provides great snakes and ladders racing."

On such a large craft, sailed by a crew of over 35, efficient communication is key to a successful day on the water. “It takes a lot of people to coordinate a spinnaker drop,” continued Broughton. “The size of the sails and rig are huge and it’s another facet of sailing. Communication is one of our biggest challenges but using headsets it works very well.”

Juan Vila, Esimit Europa 2’s navigator added: “It was a very exciting course, which saw us sailing very close to the rocks. Today was steadier than the previous days, there was less cloud and lighter breezes. Our aim was to gain an advantage and cut down as many boat lengths as we could at every corner.”

Peter Holmberg, Tactician on defending class champion Highland Fling, currently second, courtesy of three straight second place finishes commented: “It’s been eventful and not all plain sailing this year. On the first day we hit an uncharted rock which was pretty dramatic, but we were able to complete the race as we were close to the finish. Yesterday was a bit of a rush after getting all the repairs done and we finished second.” A feat the crew repeated today, finishing 15 minutes behind Esimit Europa 2 on the water. “As a wide bodied boat with high stability we prefer a stronger breeze compared to our tough competition. As Esimit is very narrow with a canting keel, they are quite different animals (preferring light airs). Conditions really dictate who does better.”

In the Super Maxi fleet the modern classic ketch Hetairos -at 66m a goliath among goliaths and the largest yacht at the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup - was first to cross the finish line but it was the 112ft Nilaya that took victory on corrected time for the third consecutive race, leaving her with a perfect scoreline over three races held and a fairly comfortable lead now overall. Nilaya is followed by Peter Harrison's Farr 115 ketch Sojana in second and the 45m Wally Saudade in third.

Mini Maxi results

Pos Boat Owner Sail No. R1 R2 R3 R4 R5 Tot
1 BELLA MENTE  Hap Fauth USA 45 3 1 1 1 2 6
2 RAN 2  Niklas Zennstrom GBR 7236R 1.5 4 4 5 1 10.5
3 JETHOU  Sir Peter Ogden GBR 74R 4.5 8 6 2 3 15.5
4 CAOL ILA R  Ocean Racing III USA 60669 6 5 2 6 5 18
5 STIG  Alessandro Rombelli ITA 65000 9 3 5 3 7 20
6 BRONENOSEC  Vladimir Liubomirov RUS 2460 7.5 7 7 8 4 25.5
7 SHOCKWAVE  Artemis Ltd / G. Sakellaris USA 60272 19.5 2 3 4 6 28.5
8 H2O  Riccardo de Michele ITA 15668 10.5 6 11 7 8 31.5
9 @ROBAS  Gerard Logel FRA 60107 12 10 10 10 9 41
10 WILD JOE  Chemimpex Int. Ltd HUN 7002 13.5 11 9 9 10 41.5
11 TWIN SOUL 6 - MONSIEUR  Luciano Gandini ITA 19951 15 9 8 11 11 43
12 B2 NATALI  Michele Galli ITA 88888 16.5 12 12 12 12 52.5

Photos: James Boyd/www.thedailysail.com



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