Porto Cervo, 3rd September 2014. Day three ofthe Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup & Mini Maxi Rolex World Championship 2014 broughtcontinued sunshine and blue skies and a shifty northerly breeze of around 10 knots.
In the seven-boat Mini Maxi division competing for the world championship title Alegre maintains the overall lead she has held since day one, although her rivals grow dangerously closer each day. Firefly also maintains her lead in the Supermaxi division as do Highland Fling (Maxi), Lupa of London (Mini Maxi Racing/Cruising) and Rainbow (J-Class) in their respective divisions.
Only the Wally fleet sees a change of leadership today as France's J One takes command. With a lay-day scheduled for tomorrow, all will be decided in the final two race days remaining before the event, organized by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda in collaboration with the International Maxi Association, wraps up Saturday 6th September.
The Mini Maxi Racing class completed a further two windward-leeward races today, taking them to a total of five races run and bringing a discard in to play. As a result only two points now separate the top three boats with Andres Soriano's Alegre, runner up in last year's contest, sitting just ahead of Roberto Tomasini Grinover's Robertissima who in turn is only half a point ahead of current title holder Niklas Zennstrom's Rán 5. Today's lighter airs clearly did not suit the leading boats which failed to post any bullets today. Instead it was an all-American day as the smallest boat in the fleet, Caol Ila R, claimed victory in the first race while George Sakellaris' Shockwave took the win in the second.
The rest of the fleet completed another stunning coastal course winding through the granite islands and outcrops of the La Maddalena archipelago which took the Wally, J-Class, Maxi and Supermaxi yachts north through the coastal channel to round Spargi island before doubling back home for a total of 31 miles. The Mini Maxi Racing/Cruising fleet rounded a mark just south of Spargi to complete a slightly shorter version.
The battle of the classic sailing giants continued in the J-Class divison where Rainbow extended her lead to 2 points over Lionheart, with Bouwe Bekking on tactics, and Ranger in third.
Francesco De Angelis, America's Cup veteran and tactician on Rainbow, had to work hard for today's victory: "It was difficult because we were going through the islands with a lot of holes so it's easy to get trapped in the wrong spot at the wrong moment so it's never an easy race. We gained at the top of the island at La Maddalena and we didn't lose any ground through the area in front of Palau where the wind was light. It's only just the second race of the year for the boat and for the team, but we are learning how to sail together."
The Wally fleet is seeing some fierce competition as Magic Carpet 3, Y3K and J one continue to overtake and leapfrog each other at the top of the table without a moment's respite. The 2013-launched Wally Cento, Magic Carpet 3, was first in today's coastal race but currently sits just one point behind J One in the overall classification, on equal points with Y3K.
J One's tactician, Jens Christensen, also had a taxing day: "We got a terrible start, and were last behind the entire fleet so we spent the whole day fighting like mad to climb back up, we had a fantastic race with Tango and Inti but it was a difficult day with lots of wind shifts and sail changes. We are happy with how we did, today was really exciting. Now we are just one point ahead of Magic Carpet and it's going to be very difficult, I think it's very open and any of the top three boats could win."
Although Inoui claimed her first bullet of the series, the overall results in the Supermaxi division remain invaried with Dutch yacht Firefly leading the classification ahead of Marco Vogele's Inoui and Italy's Viriella owned by Vittorio Morretti.
The Russian Swan 60 Bronenosec also took her first victory in corrected time today, however the overall classification still has the Baltic 78 Lupa of London in first place ahead of the Russian boat and Gerad Logel's Arobas.
No change either in the Maxi division as Sir Irvine Laidlaw's 25-metre Highland Fling took her third consecutive bullet ahead of the Swan 90 Odin.
The busy social schedule which accompanies racing continues this evening with the Annual IMA Dinner at the YCCS Clubhouse while tomorrow owners and guests will attend the exclusive Rolex dinner. Thursday 4th September is a lay-day in which crews will rest up and fine-tune their yachts before racing continues on Friday 5th September.