Alegre makes her mark
In light winds of 7-8 knots, the opening day of racing at the 2013 Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, saw all the yachts dispatched on a coastal course of either 25 or 17 miles, both of which including classic Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup landmarks: a passage through Capo Ferro and roundings of Monaci and Secca di Tre Monti before returning to the finish in Porto Cervo.
Today’s winners were: Alegre (GBR) in the Mini Maxi Rolex World Championship; Velsheda (SUI) in J-Class; Highland Fling (MON) in Maxi; Altair (ITA) in Maxi Racing/Cruising; Nilaya (GBR) in Supermaxi and J-One (GBR) in Wally.
In the eagerly anticipated first race of the fourth Mini Maxi Rolex World Championship, the new 72ft Alegre claimed the morale-boosting first bullet.
In such a competitive class it is vital to perform from the very outset: "“The starts are ultimate. If you get it right, it’s your race to lose,” said, Hap Fauth, owner of defending Mini Maxi Rolex World Champion, Bella Mente (USA). Prophetic words as Alegre, following a textbook start, stole a march on the fleet. “It was pretty light but quite steady,” explained Alegre's tactician Chris Main. “It was a tough course in that sort of breeze. We got a good start, and led by 30 seconds at the first mark and as the boat reaches quite well we just stretched away. This week will be about consistency, we need to keep putting in results and make sure we don’t have a bad one.”
Alegre was followed by Niklas Zennstrm’s 2010 and 2011 Mini Maxi Rolex World Championship winning Rán 2 (GBR), which today finished second with Shockwave (USA) in third. Bella Mente endured a frustrating day finishing down in ninth and now has her work cut out if she is successfully to defend her title.
The fleet of seven Wallys shared the same 25-nm course. Sir Charles Dunstone’s Hamilton (GBR) was fastest on the water, while former champion J-One (GBR) claimed the first bullet of the week.
Among the four J-Class yachts, the 136ft Ranger has the best record in Porto Cervo, having taken the Class title in all three of her previous appearances. After a three-year absence from the competition, John Williams and his crew are in search of a fourth victory: “This is one of our favourite venues,” explained Williams. “The seas are very flat, a good venue for J-boats. However, as the biggest, heaviest of the J-Class boats we need wind to be able to sail effectively, typically 14-15 knots. The other boats tend to do better in lighter air.” So it proved in today’s light airs with Ranger trailing behind Rainbow and eventual winner Velsheda.
There are significant challenges in sailing such large, complex, historic boats, typically sailed by a crew of around 35, on a race circuit known for its considerable tactical junctures. “You’ve got something that’s incredibly powerful and heavy and not that responsive,” reflected Velsheda’s tactician Tom Dodson. “You’ve got to think about manoeuvres many minutes ahead. On some of lighter boats you can change your mind, make an adjustment, respond to other boats quite quickly. We enjoy close racing and have to be very mindful dealing with equipment that is incredibly valuable and doesn’t respond that quickly. However, none of us want to simply nurse the boats around the course. We want to push it in the gap, that’s the challenge.”
Filip Balcaen’s 112ft Nilaya (GBR) stretched her winning run at the competition to six races, stretching back to 2011, in the Supermaxi Class. Highland Fling, Maxi Racing champion in 2011, claimed the first Class bullet ahead of Morning Glory, returning to the event after an absence of six years.
Racing continues tomorrow with windward/leeward courses planned for the Mini Maxi and Wally classes, and a coastal race for all other classes.
Mini Maxi Rolex World Championship
1. Alegre (GBR), Andy Soriano, 1; 1
2. Ran 2 (GBR), Niklas Zennstrom 2; 2
3. Shockwave (USA), George Sakellaris 3; 3
1. HIGHLAND FLING (MON), Irvine Laidlaw, 1; 1
2. MORNING GLORY (GER), Hasso Plattner, 2; 2
Maxi Racer / Cruiser
1. ALTAIR (ITA), Paolo Scerni, 1; 1
2. NEFERTITI (GBR), Anders Nordquist, 2; 2
3. FREYA (USA), Donald Macpherson, 3; 3
1. Velsheda (SUI), Tarbat Investment Ltd, 1; 1
2. RAINBOW (NED), Chris Gongriep, 2; 2
3. Ranger (CAY), RSV Ltd, 3; 3
1. NILAYA (GBR), Filip Balcaen, 1; 1
2. FIREFLY (NED), Eric Bijlsma, 2; 2
3. ONLY NOW (TUR), Chelsea Yachting Ltd., 3; 3
1. J ONE (GBR), Jean Charles Decaux, 1; 1
2. Y3K (GER), Claus Peter Offen, 2; 2
3. INTI (ITA), Lauro Buoro, 3; 3
From Jesus Renedo / www.sailingstock.com
From Carlo Borlenghi / Rolex