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Avoiding Hard Things Under The Surface

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  • Avoiding Hard Things Under The Surface

    When time is precious, you want to savour every moment. While there are no guarantees in life, there are some things, some places, that almost always live up to their promise.

    It’s why sailors come back year after year to revel in the beautiful sailing conditions of the Costa Smeralda. In such a weather-dependent sport as yacht racing, you want to know that you have at least a reasonable chance of getting some good days on the water. Judging by the first four days of the 2015 edition of the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, this year’s regatta will go down as a classic.

    The late summer sun has been shining, the Mediterranean wind has been blowing, and the idyllic La Maddalena archipelago is always beautiful. The sailors have been stepping ashore with smiles almost as broad as their powerful, elegant racing yachts.

    There is no doubt that the sailing waters of Northern Sardinia are some of the finest in the world. The rugged beauty of the Costa Smeralda attracts the fastest and most advanced racing yachts and the top professional crews. But the fantastic jagged rock formations which make this coastal landscape so impressive also extend below the surface. They create a maze of hidden undersea obstacles that every navigator is determined to avoid....

    It’s small wonder that Maxi yacht owners want to make the most of their precious time on these sparkling Sardinian seas. More than 30 years ago, when Rolex partnered with the exclusive Yacht Club Costa Smeralda, the shared vision was to bring together the greatest gathering of high performance yachts in one of the world’s most glamorous and desirable locations. The vision became reality, and the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup has become established as one of the most spectacular and exciting regattas of the international racing calendar, the World Championship for some of the largest and most advanced racing yachts ever conceived. An intoxicating mix of elegance, innovation and high performance.

    As the level of competition and the drive for excellence has increased, so has the calibre of sailor attracted to the event. For example this year, three-time Olympic champion Jochen Schümann is making the tactical decisions on board German businessman Thomas Bscher’s 107-ft Wally yacht, Open Season, and it’s a partnership that has been working well this week with the German crew holding a handsome advantage on the scoreboard. Legendary New Zealander and four-time America’s Cup winner Brad Butterworth is working in a similar role for Sir Peter Ogden on board the Maxi 72 Spirit of Jethou. The crew lists at the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda read like a Hall of Fame roll call.

    One of the obvious attractions of hiring an Olympic champion or America’s Cup winner is the opportunity to stand on the field of play, shoulder to shoulder with the very best. How many sports offer such an opportunity? Quite apart from that, however, it just makes good sense to hire the most talented professionals. Some prefer a single-nationality approach whilst other crews are as exotic and international as a top-flight football team. Thierry Peponnet, another Olympic champion in Porto Cervo, is the tactician for an all-French crew on board the 80ft Wally Tango. “All being from the same country makes communication easier,” he concedes, “but it’s also interesting to bring in new ideas and innovations from a variety of nationalities.”

    For Peponnet, the prime reason for flying in top-level international crews from around the world is to be able to push the boat as hard as possible, without jeopardising the safety of the boat, owner, guests and crew. This is a precision game, requiring the utmost concentration for hours at a time. “Good professionals should anticipate situations before they happen,” says the double Olympic medallist, mindful of the power of a 50-ton yacht travelling at 10 knots or more. “We never try to put the boat in difficult situations although inevitably there are times when you are forced to do so. We are fortunate that this is a gentleman's sport. There is a good spirit between the owners.”

    All images © Carlo Borlenghi/ Rolex

    Peponnet compares the approach to the first turning mark to the first corner in a Formula One motor race - where the unexpected can arise with very little warning. “Anticipation is key,” he notes, as is the understanding of risk versus reward in rapidly changing situations. “The owners, they are all businessmen, and they understand that in some way we are running a business on the boat,” says Peponnet. “Because the owners are not full-time sailing professionals, they like to gather the best consultants and experts around them, to help them make the best decision in the heat of the moment.”

    The complete Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup 2015 provisional results can be found HERE!
    " I just found out my nest egg has salmonella" Photo Gallery

  • #2

    Bella Mente, Open Season, H20, Supernikka, Windfall and Inoui division winners

    Porto Cervo, 12 September 2015. Eighteen knots of scirocco wind and a rip-roaring race around the islands on the final day of the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup & Rolex Maxi 72 World Championship provided the perfect end to a superlative week of competition in Porto Cervo. The 26th edition of the event, which attracted a fleet of 40 yachts ranging from 18 to 66 metres in length, was organized by Yacht Club Costa Smeralda together with title sponsor Rolex and the International Maxi Association.

    Hap Fauth’s Bella Mente, with a bullet and a third place in today’s two windward-leeward races, was crowned Rolex Maxi 72 World Champion 2015. The American team which boasts Terry Hutchinson on tactics managed to whisk victory from the grasp of Roberto Tomasini Grinover with his Robertissima III by just one point. Dieter Schön’s Momo claimed third place in her debut on the waters of the Costa Smeralda.

    All images © Carlo Borlenghi/ Rolex

    “It was just fantastic,” enthused a delighted Hap Fauth, “The level of competition was so high and everyone had fun. We had a great time and the organization and hospitality was excellent.”

    At the conclusion of a coastal course of approximately 30 nautical miles Marco Vogele’s 33-metre Inoui was able to celebrate her victory over Viriella and Hetairos respectively in the Supermaxi division. Newly elected IMA President Thomas Bscher was also celebrating in the Wally division as his Open Season rounded off a week of near-perfect results with a second place in today’s race to claimed overall victory in the Wally division. After a fierce battle for second place throughout the week, Magic Carpet Cubed, owned by Sir Lindsay Owen Jones, took the silver prize with J One in third place on equal points.

    The record-breaking 100-foot Comanche, owned by Jim Clark and Kristy Hinze-Clark, gave spectacular performances throughout the week and word is she will be joined by several more pure racing machines for the next edition of the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup.

    In the Maxi division, which together with the Mini Maxis completed a slightly shorter coastal course, The Southern Wind yacht Windfall, owned by Michael Cotter claimed the Rolex prize and timepiece. Following an event-long leadership battle, Masimiliano Florio’s Grande Orazio Pioneer Investments had to settle for second place, just one point behind. The Swan 77 Tugela rounded off the podium finishers.

    Thanks to a victory in today’s race Riccardo di Michele’s H2O managed to beat Shirlaf on countback as both yachts finished with the same score. Third place in the Mini Maxi RC/SOT division went to Wallyño. The Mini Maxi Racing Division saw Roberto Lacorte’s 2015-launched Supernikka perform consistently well throughout the week to take first place overall ahead of Britain’s Spectre and Maximilian Klink’s Caro.

    “It may seem redundant to say that this was a wonderful event – the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup is always a highlight of our sporting calendar – however this 26th edition of the regatta was truly exceptional.” Commented YCCS Commodore Riccardo Bonadeo “The fleet, the owners and the crews were all of an incredibly high standard and mother nature stepped in to provide almost perfect conditions.”

    Looking forward to the next Maxi event Bonadeo continued “The conclusion of a perfect event seems the perfect time to invite you all, if you haven’t already done so, to enrol for the very first edition of the Maxi Yacht Rolex Caribbean Cup taking place in April 2016 at our Caribbean home in Virgin Gorda where we are lucky enough to have another beautiful regatta course and constant trade winds.”

    The YCCS calendar in the Mediterranean continues with the Sailing Champions League final which will see teams from across Europe and beyond competing on J70 boats from 18th to 20th September.

    " I just found out my nest egg has salmonella" Photo Gallery