Bella Mente Racing already has three Rolex Maxi 72 World Championship titles under its belt along with a slew of other high profile accolades, and now owner/driver Hap Fauth and his team are preparing for another ambitious campaign this year.
Fauth has been running the Bella Mente Racing campaign since 2006 and the third and current Bella Mente, a 72-foot custom Judel/Vrolijk yacht built by New England Boatworks, was launched in the spring of 2012.
With new boats coming onto the already highly competitive Maxi 72 circuit, Fauth says, “We have our work cut out for us, as all of the teams in the lineup are ones to watch,”
The fleet of Maxi 72s now competing has grown to a record six teams and includes the Botin 72 Cannonball, which is new to the scene this year.
Developed by the International Maxi Association, the Maxi 72s were first known as Mini Maxi Racers. The first “Mini Maxi World Championship” (now known as the Rolex Maxi 72 World Championship) was raced in 2010. The class gained so much traction that by 2014 the association put more of an emphasis on owner/driver racing. These yachts are all custom designed and built to perform in offshore races as well as coastal and windward-leeward races. The class has a rating cap that narrows the performance differences between each yacht.
Photo: Thomas Moya
“The neat thing about the Maxi 72 Class is that it has really taken over where the America’s Cup was when it was raced in monohulls; these boats now represent the tip of the spear in the sport of sailing,” said Tactician Terry Hutchinson, adding that much of the technology for gear and systems developed onboard Bella Mente have trickled down into other areas of the sport. “These boats push the envelope structurally as well as with the rig and sail development,” he added.
The business entrepreneur Hap Fauth founded Minneapolis-based investment firm, The Churchill Companies, and runs a number of businesses spanning many industries – from agriculture to aerospace, applying many of the same practices with both his team in the office and onboard Bella Mente.
For the past three years, Fauth has brought the sailing team together for a week of sea trials in Florida before each campaign. “The challenge in my mind for 2017 is that there are teams with newer boats that are mimicking our preparation, so you have to think that Bella Mente will be coming up against stiffer competition. One of our challenges when we get smacked around a little bit on the racecourse is how do we respond as a team. Our goal is to keep an eye on the big picture,” added Hutchinson.
Bella Mente Campaign Schedule 2017
Bella Mente Racing kicks off its season next month in Antigua with the RORC Caribbean 600 followed by Les Voiles de St. Barth in April in St. Barthelemy. From there, Bella Mente will head across the Atlantic to race in Mallorca, Spain for the Palma Vela in May before heading to Corfu, Greece for the inaugural Corfu Challenge in July.
The team will then return to Mallorca for the Copa del Rey MAPFRE later that month. The season culminates in the final and most significant event, the Rolex Maxi 72 World Championship in Porto Cervo, Italy, in September.
Sponsors for Bella Mente Racing include TSI, ESC, Tekran, DICKEY-john, Churchill Yachts, Worthington Aviation, Worthington Ag Parts and MSP.