Porto Cervo – Big conditions today off Sardinia’s magnificent Costa Smeralda sadly proved too big. Initially the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup race committee held competitors ashore to see if the forecast lull would occur.
Ultimately at 1430 local time conditions on the course were in fact building rather than dropping, so, reluctantly, Peter Craig and his team from the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda, organiser of the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup alongside the International Maxi Association, chose to abandon racing on what was supposed to have been the opening day of competition.
From the International Maxi Association base on the Southern Wind 78 Whisper, tied up among the other Maxi Cruiser Racers at the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda dock, Secretary General Andrew McIrvine acknowledged: “Sadly conditions made sailing today extremely difficult. Not only did it make it difficult to set courses, but also the logistics of moving these very large boats in and out of the narrow harbour entrance safely. Plus there is the feeling that we don’t want to cause any damage on day one.”
As a result of this, it is highly likely that there will now be no layday, originally scheduled for Thursday.
Today a coastal race was scheduled for the Maxi 72s competing at their annual Rolex World Championship. George Sakellaris’ the Greek-American owner of Proteus was disappointed as he and his crew prefer longer races, but agreed with the Race Committee’s decision. “It is too tough for these boats to race in over 30-35 knots. We break a lot of stuff normally, even when we have 25 knots…”
Sakellaris is otherwise hopeful of his team’s chances this week in taking on Hap Fauth’s Bella Mente – the present dominant force in the Maxi 72. “We are getting to know our boat better because we’ve had her for more than a year and we’ve made quite a lot of changes to make her more competitive, so I think we have a good chance. But Bella Mente has been at it for quite a long time and these boats are very sensitive, finely tuned machines. If you don’t fine tune them they don’t perform very well – but that makes the racing extremely competitive. It doesn’t get any better! Whoever wins this week – it will be by seconds.”
Luca Bassani, Founder and President of Wally Yachts, which again has the biggest class at the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup with 13 boats entered this week, ranging from Wally 77s such as Jean Charles Decaux’s J One to the 107 footers Kenora and IMA President Thomas Bscher’s Open Season, also thought that cancelling racing today was a wise choice.
“If you sail in up to 25 knots, that is reasonable. If you had the right sails to sail in 35-40 knots you could do it, but if you don’t have those sails, then there is no point…” he said.
Sir Peter Harrison, Vice President of the International Maxi Association’s Supermaxi Division was also keen to get racing. This is the first time the former British America’s Cup team principal has been back at the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup with his 35m long Farr Yacht Design ketch Sojana since 2012, following a lengthy refit.
“We had 134,000 miles on the clock, so all the mechanical and electrical stuff was beginning to age, so we have replaced all of that. It is all new teak decking and new sails and all new rigging,” says Sir Peter, for whom this is only his second event since getting Sojana back on the water earlier this year.
Since Sojana and her owner have been away, there has been much movement in the Supermaxi class. This year three boats making their debuts at this event: Irvine Laidlaw’s new Swan 115 Highland Fling 15, plus two Baltic Yachts-built high performance carbon fibre one-offs: the Nauta 115 Nikata and the Javier Jaudenes-designed Win Win.
Conditions are forecast to be brisk, but sailable, tomorrow with racing scheduled to get underway at 11.30 local time.