Costa Smeralda once again delivered for the concluding day of the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup and Rolex Maxi 72 World Championship, with brilliant sunshine and 10-15 knots westerly winds. Among the 41 competitors, the Wally classes got to race two final windward-leewards as everyone else sailed a course up ‘Bomb Alley’, with all but the slower Mini Maxi class rounding Spargi before returning back the way they had come past the La Maddalena Archipelago .
Pinnacle event in the maxi yacht calendar, run by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda in conjunction with the International Maxi Association, the official body that oversees and promotes maxi yacht racing globally, the 2018 Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup produced stand-out performances in most classes.
The most remarkable victory was that of the Wally 77 Lyra in the Wally class, despite this being the first ever regatta for her owner-driver, Chinese Canadian Terry Hui. With her 2-1 today, Lyra’s scoreline comprised five wins and two seconds.
Watch final day of action for the 41 competing teams at the 2018 Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup and Rolex Maxi 72 World Championship:
“It was a very pleasant surprise, a superb experience to be in Porto Cervo, one of the best harbours in the world, and sailing with some of the best sailors in the world,” said Hui. “The Wally owners are an interesting, friendly group, so I’ve been very lucky. The real story is that all the crew compensate for all of my mistakes!”
Hui only decided to start sailing two and a half months ago, but bought the Lyra campaign from James Murdoch complete with the majority of her crew.
“It’s not a bad way for Terry to start his sailing career!” observed Lyra’s tactician Hamish Pepper, adding that the ground work for the campaign had already been laid when they won Les Voiles de St Tropez last year. As to why the two Wally 77s (Lyra and Jean-Charles Decaux’s J One) have done so well this week, Pepper observed, “The three Wallycentos have been fighting and slowing themselves down and we have been just a click ahead of J One, so after the first five or ten minutes we have been able to sail our own race.”
Lebanese American Charif Souki's Wallycento, Tango, claimed today’s first windward-leeward Wally race held in 12-13 knots, the wind increasing to 14 knots for race two. Tactician Thierry Peponnet explained, “We had a very nice first race - winning it from the start. We wanted to be to leeward of our opponents, because we were expecting the wind to go left and that was a good option. The second was all in the start and we had a fantastic one. We got better and better over the week.”
A 1-2 for Tango enabled them to beat Sir Lindsay Owen-Jones’ Magic Carpet Cubed to the Wallycento overall win by a mere half point.
Wally Yachts President Luca Bassani was pleased with how the racing had gone, “It has been a lot of fun with very tight racing between the three Wallycentos. The big surprise was Lyra winning so many races - that’s never happened before in the Wally class.”
The J Class claimed the top three slots In the SuperMaxi class, with Topaz sealing the deal by one point, despite Ronald de Waal’s Velsheda winning today’s race. “I believe we punched above our weight,” said Topaz helmsman Peter Holmberg. “I’m really proud of our guys and I think, seeing as we were the underdogs, we did a great job to win the regatta.”
However victory had nearly slipped through their fingers with Svea hounding them, on their transom, as they returned down Bomb Alley. “We had to work really hard to keep them behind,” recounted Holmberg. “It came down to the bottom mark where we did a Mexican drop – all credit to the bow team as they got the spinnaker on-board and cleaned up, so we could turn the mark.”
In the Maxi class, victory today for Argentinean Miguel Galuccio’s Vera was not enough to displace Massimiliano Florio’s Grande Orazio from the top spot after his Southern Wind 82 finished third today to Lauro Buoro's Wally 94 Inti 3 under IRC corrected time.
Of his victory, Florio commented: "We had the best conditions we could expect for our boat and had great co-ordination between the crew. My compliments go to tactician Lorenzo Bortolotti, who always chose the right layline. We didn’t make mistakes in the manoeuvres, even when the winds were light.” Florio dedicated his victory to Southern Wind Shipyard’s founder, Willy Persico who died in May.
In the faster Mini Maxi class, Roberto Lacorte’s Vismara 62 SuperNikka (above) scored four bullets and two seconds to claim his third Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup victory. “This is thanks to the huge work carried out by my crew, not just during races, but before for this event too,” he said. “This is our main event annually and this result gives us so much satisfaction - the reward for all the effort and work we carried out over the winter.”
Riccardo De Michele’s Vallicelli 80 H20 scored straight bullets in the slower Mini Maxi class while Guiseppe Puttini's Swan 65 Shirlaf scored all seconds with the exception of today, when they were beaten by Anthony Ball's Swan 65 Six Jaguar. “I am very happy that the competition in our class was much the same as last year,” said De Michele. “Last year it was much harder difficult to beat them. They improved this year, but our boat improved a lot too, as has the crew.”
German Dieter Schön's Momo (above) yesterday retained her Rolex Maxi 72 World Championship title with Dario Ferrari’s Cannonball, the local favourite, claiming second and George Sakellaris’ Proteus third.
Proteus finished strongly today with a second on the lap of Bomb Alley. Afterguard Tommaso Chieffi described their day: “There was a lot of action in the pre-start as we tried to go for the pin, but we didn’t make it because we had two boats in between. We did force Cannonball eventually to tack and they got a penalty for a port-starboard with Momo right after the start. At the top mark we were fifth with Cannonball behind, but we got a clear lane and got into second and were slowly getting into Momo. On the way back, before the inflatable mark, we were almost on their transom, but they stretched away on the last run.”
Bryon Ehrhart, sailing his first Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup with his new Maxi 72 Lucky (formerly Bella Mente), admitted he and his team are still learning the boat having graduated up from their Reichel Pugh 63 and TP52. “For our first year with this boat we have learned a lot. We will try to move it up again next year. It’s been good sailing all season long. It is hard not to enjoy racing here.”
Of this year’s event, newly appointed International Maxi Association President, Benoît de Froidmont commented, “The event has been a great success. The organisation as usual was perfect and the conditions were extremely good for sailing and all of the participants were happy with the racing. The diversity of the fleet has been good and we didn’t get any complaints about the class splits.”
As to his ambitions for his three year presidency, “Our objective is to get more maxi boats on the circuit racing and to make maxi boats owners more happy and to make it more enjoyable for them with the help of the yacht clubs.”
In 2019 the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup celebrates its 30th edition and the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda and the International Maxi Association are anticipating a bumper turn-out for this special event.