Bella Mente returns to Europe
Bella Mente Racing has its eyes fixed on five prizes in Europe this summer.
The sailing team of 22, led by owner and driver Hap Fauth, will compete in a mix of inshore and offshore races, all of which lead up to the main event in Porto Cervo, Italy - the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, within which the Mini Maxi World Championship will see Bella Mente attempting to defend her title.
Having just finished an early 2013 campaign in the US and Caribbean, Bella Mente Racing has taken steps to improve its game, including the addition of a new mast along with improvements to gear, hardware and racing configurations.
“We’ve learned a lot about our boat over the last few months and have gotten much better at changing configurations for the different types of racing,” said Tom McLaughlin, who has been sailing with Fauth for over ten years and serves as the Bella Mente Racing coach.
McLaughlin added that the team finished off its US and Caribbean Circuit strong, taking first in IRC 0 and second in IRC Overall at the RORC Caribbean 600, where they completed the 600 mile course in approximately 48 hours (3 days, 4 hours and 52 minutes on corrected time).
“We hope to be able to come out on top at the Mini Maxi Rolex World Championship like we did last year, because the event is something you can really hang your hat on,” said McLaughlin.
Their Judel-Vrolijk 72 is currently enroute to Palma de Mallorca, after being loaded in West Palm Beach, Florida on 28 March. When the sailing and shore team arrive in Mallorca between 19-25 April they will undergo an extensive practice regime and get the boat ready for its first European event, Gaastra Palma Vela, over 1-5 May, where the line-up in the Mini Maxi class looks identical to what it will be at the Maxi Worlds in September.
“Palma Vela will be our only real training in windward-leeward racing before the Mini Maxi Rolex World Championship. Both events are great because they attract boats from around the world that fit the Mini Maxi criteria, allowing us to basically race one design,” said McLaughlin.
After the team finishes Palma Vela it must reconfigure the set-up of the boat to accommodate offshore and buoy racing for the next three events: Giraglia Rolex Cup in St Tropez, France on 8 June; Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week in Cowes, Isle of Wight, over 3-10 August and the Rolex Fastnet Race from Cowes to Plymouth, start on 11 August.
“Our 2013 campaign is definitely ambitious, since we are bouncing back and forth between inshore and offshore racing,” continued McLaughlin. “When you look at events like the Rolex Fastnet Race and the Rolex Sydney Hobart you see a lot of boats now that are built with the purpose of offshore racing; they are treated very well under IRC rating and can get through the weather systems and have a little more strategic advantage on the race course. For example, the Volvo Ocean Race boats are specialised for ocean racing, and it is much more difficult to match their speed, performance and rating, but those boats would not be at all successful in the windward-leeward format.
“Overall, I think this year is going to be one of learning, and it’s just a question of how quickly we can identify our shortcomings and fix them. If you stand still you get fat. We have to continue to push our crew and our normal mechanics as well as our configurations on the boat – it’s the small things that get you ahead and ultimately determine who wins.”
Read more about Bella Mente here