Portofino – Maxi yacht racing re-ignites in Italy in one month’s time with the Regate di Primavera held out of one of the nation’s most idyllic hamlets, Portofino.
Organised by the Yacht Club Italiano, in conjunction with the International Maxi Association, Portofino has long been a favourite destination with maxi yacht owners, who have previously raced there in major events such as the Zegna Trophy, the Regate Pirelli and the Nespresso Cup for the Wally class. Last year the Yacht Club Italiano, who have their summer base in Portofino, re-introduced their spring regatta there, exclusively for maxi yachts. That event was a great success with a strong turn-out of maxis, whose owners and crews were keen to get back out on the water after being locked up for so long due to the pandemic. This year’s event is expected to bounce back ever stronger thanks to support from Rolex Italia, the main partner and with Rolex being official timepiece of the event, plus the Italian sailing federation (FIV) and official hospitality partner, the Splendido Mare Hotel and technical partner Banca Passadore & C.
Racing will take place for the maxi fleet (yachts of 18.29+m) over four days (22-25 April) in three classes – Class Racer, Class Cruiser-Racer and Mylius Yachts. The former will race a mix of windward-leeward and coastal courses while the Cruiser-Racers will sail coastal races exclusively and may have a special dispensation for racing with guests on board. The Mylius Yachts class will solely be for craft emanating form the Podenzano-based yard and will include Twin Soul B of Mylius Yachts President Luciano Gandini, which last year finished second to an all-conquering Alessandro del Bono and his rejuvenated ILC maxi Capricorno.
Gandini’s Mylius 80 will again be leading the charge in 2022 but this time with a new recruit to their afterguard in former America’s Cup tactician Tommaso Chieffi. Twin Soul B had a tremendous 2021 season, both inshore and offshore, when they won the 151 Miglia – Trofeo Cetilar in June and again came second to Capricorno in September’s Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup. “They have very good Olympic sailors and a bunch of other talented sailors – it is a good crew for sure,” says Chieffi, Twin Soul B’s new tactician.
Over his long career Chieffi has raced off Portofino at previous incarnations of this event many times on other maxis such as Raffaele Raiola’s Idea and Pier Luigi Loro Piana’s My Song. He is well versed in the likely conditions off the Ligurian coast in late April. “Normally it is light and the wind comes from the west or northwest but because of the shape of the gulf, you get a bend around the coast. It will be very competitive because usually you have to make an early line to go right to be successful. But the weather can be bad too – you can have a front coming from the west and then you can get some sea state which can be nasty. I remember racing with Idea many years ago, when we had 20-25 knots and big waves.”
Aside from the racing, what encourages maxi owners to return to Portofino again and again is the tiny village itself with its villas and town house in different pastel shades, plus its high-end boutiques and restaurants fringing Portofino’s Piazzetta. “The shoreside is spectacular,” Chieffi continues. “It is some of the most beautiful scenery we have, plus you can have good racing with a lot of boats. You might lose a race, but then you can enjoy the sunshine and culture! In the past, before the COVID, they used to organise a big show in the Piazzetta with the floats and the balloons – they normally do something spectacular. It is a show. You cannot miss it.”
Among the entries this year are Carlo Alberini’s intensively campaigned Davidson 69 Pendragon VI, which claimed the bottom rung of the podium here in 2021, followed by Adriano Calvini’s FY61 Itacentodue and Aldo Parisotto’s Mylius 65 Oscar3, which are also returning.
Along with Twin Soul B, Oscar3 will be competing in the Mylius Cup alongside the others such as the 60s Manticore, Motions2 and Jecalu. Parisotto says he is looking forward to getting back on to the race course with a revamped boat and crew. “Oscar3 spent the whole winter in La Spezia, undergoing some important work such as having new carbon rigging fitted. Portofino will be our very first event for 2022 and, of course, I am joining the Mylius Cup.”
Oscar3 will compete with the same main sponsor, Axerta and a crew led by tactician and former America’s Cup helmsman Paolo Cian and other notables on board such as mainsail trimmer Andrea Casale. “All the Mylius boats will be moored nearby in Santa Margherita Ligure but we’ll join all the social events in Portofino of course.”
Racing at the Regate di Primavera will take place over Friday 22 April until Monday 25th April preceded by registration, measurement, inspection and a Skippers’ Briefing on the Thursday and culminating in a prizegiving on the final Monday. Among the prizes will be trophies for the highest placed IMA members in the two classes.