The crew of Bella Mente Racing has its eyes fixed on five prizes spanning the Atlantic Ocean this spring. The sailing team of 22, led by owner and driver Hap Fauth (Minneapolis, Minn./Naples, Fla.), will compete in a mix of inshore and offshore races throughout Europe, all of which lead up to the main event in Porto Cervo, Italy-- the Mini Maxi Rolex World Championship where Bella Mente Racing will defend its current title as world champion.
Having just finished an early 2013 campaign in the U.S. and Caribbean, Bella Mente Racing has taken steps to improve its game, including the addition of a new mast along with improvements to gear, hardware and racing configurations.
'We’ve learned a lot about our boat over the last few months and have gotten much better at changing configurations for the different types of racing,' said Tom McLaughlin (Salt Lake City, Utah) who has been sailing with Fauth for over ten years and serves as the Bella Mente Racing coach. McLaughlin added that the team finished off its U.S. and Caribbean Circuit strong, taking first in IRC 0 and second in IRC Overall at the RORC Caribbean 600, where Bella Mente completed the 600 mile course around eleven Caribbean islands in approximately 48 hours (three days, four hours and 52 minutes on corrected time).
Bella Mente, with owner Hap Fauth at the helm, during the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup 2012 where the team won the Mini Maxi World Championship. - Tim Wright
'We hope to be able to come out on top at the Mini Maxi Rolex World Championship like we did last year, because the event is something you can really hang your hat on,' said McLaughlin, adding that the boat is currently enroute to Mallorca, Spain after being loaded in West Palm Beach, Florida on March 28th. When the sailing and shore team arrive in Mallorca between April 19th and 25th they will undergo an extensive practice regiment and get the boat ready for its first European event, Gaastra Palma Vela, from May 1-5, where the class looks to be identical to the Maxi Worlds.
'Palma Vela will be our only real training in windward-leeward racing before the Mini Maxi Rolex World Championship. Both events are great because they attract boats from around the world that fit the Mini Maxi criteria, allowing us to basically race one design,' said McLaughlin.
After the team finishes Palma Vela it must reconfigure the set-up of the boat to accommodate offshore and buoy racing for the next three events: Giraglia Rolex Cup in St. Tropez, France on June 8; Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week in Cowes, Isle of Wight, U.K. from August 3-10; and the Rolex Fastnet Race in Cowes/Plymouth, U.K. on August 11.
'Our 2013 campaign is definitely ambitious, since we are bouncing back and forth between inshore and offshore racing,' continued McLaughlin. 'When you look at events like the Rolex Fastnet Race and the Rolex Sydney Hobart you see a lot of boats now that are built with the purpose of distance racing; they are treated very well under IRC rating and can get through the weather systems and have a little more strategic advantage on the race course. For example, the Volvo Ocean Race boats are specialized for ocean racing, and it is much more difficult to match their speed, performance and rating, but those boats would not be at all successful in the windward-leeward format.
'Overall, I think this year is going to be one of learning, and it’s just a question of how quickly we can identify our shortcomings and fix them. If you stand still you get fat. We have to continue to push our crew and our normal mechanics as well as our configurations on the boat – it’s the small things that get you ahead and ultimately determine who wins.'
Bella Mente Racing
by Kirsten Ferguson
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6:29 PM Thu 11 Apr 2013GMT
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