Porto Cervo, 6 September 2021. An excellent first day of racing opened the 31st Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, organised by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda with the support of Title Sponsor Rolex and the IMA (International Maxi Yacht Association), with a fleet of 44 yachts of over 60 feet (18.29 metres) enrolled.
The air fairly crackled with positive energy this morning on the docks in front of the YCCS, with all concerned eager to get back on the water for this iconic regatta dedicated to Maxi yachts after a forced stop last year.
All three divisions of the fleet - Supermaxi, Maxi and Mini Maxi, which are further subdivided based on their performance characteristics - sailed a coastal course of about 35 miles. The competing yachts circumnavigated the islands of Caprera and La Maddalena anti-clockwise, coming through the channel between Sardinia and the outlying islands known as Bomb Alley, before passing the Secca di Tre Monti shallows and heading to the Monaci islet before returning to Porto Cervo.
The Maxi Division started first, at 12 midday as scheduled, accompanied by a shifting northerly breeze which rose from an initial 10 knots to about 12 in the northernmost part of the course, and dropped to 8 knots towards the finish. The other divisions followed the Maxis in turn, and the sight of the fleet sailing through the La Maddalena archipelago was truly spectacular, as were the many hard-fought duels on the water. Not least of these was the battle between the two J Class yachts, Topaz and Velsheda, clinched in the end by the latter, who now leads the Supermaxi division ahead of Topaz and the Swan 115 Shamanna.
In the Maxi Division, the victor in compensated time was Lord Irvine Laidlaw's Highland Fling XI, with tactician Bouwe Bekking, ahead of Sir Lindsay Owen Jones' Magic Carpet 3, with Jochen Schuemann calling tactics. Third position went to Claus-Peter Offen's Y3k, with tactician Karol Jablonski.
The Mini Maxi 1 group hosted fierce competition along the entire course among all five Maxi72 yachts taking part, which display very similar performance levels. Cannonball, with Vasco Vascotto calling tactics, led from the off and finished in first place ahead of Jim Swartz's Vesper, with tactician Gavin Brady, and Hap Fauth's Bella Mente with Terry Hutchinson on tactics.
The 79' Capricorn took the win in the Mini Maxi 2 group ahead of the Mylius 80 Twin Soul B and the Swan 601 Lorina 1895. Among the Mini Maxi 3-4, the Wally Lyra took control ahead of the Dehler 60 Blue Oyster and the Baltic 78 Lupa of the Sea in third.
Vasco Vascotto, tactician on Cannonball: "It's really nice to be able to race again here in Sardinia, and hugely satisfying to see so many smiling faces in Porto Cervo. The difficult period that the world has experienced has allowed us to appreciate being able to race in this place even more, a place that's already magical in itself. We have started in the best way, but we are well aware of the level of our opponents, the fleet is particularly competitive and I believe that the winner won’t be decided until the last day.”
Racing continues tomorrow, 7 September, with the first start scheduled for 12 midday. Weather forecasts indicate light airs of around 6-7 knots, from a northerly direction once again.