Bella Mente Racing will be fighting the elements along with some of the world’s top competitors when it takes on two of Europe’s premier racing events this month. From August 6th -8th, Hap Fauth’s 72’ Judel/Vrolijk designed Bella Mente will race in the Big Boat series of Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week on the Isle of Wight in Cowes, England. Then it will switch gears for the Rolex Fastnet Race, which starts on August 11th in the same location and takes the team on a 608-nautical mile journey to Plymouth, Ireland, through the English Channel, over the Celtic Sea and past the iconic Fastnet Rock. Both events promise to challenge Bella Mente Racing with precarious weather, wind and sea conditions.
'We’ve got a few days of practice before our first event and are ‘full on’ as they say,' said Fauth (Minneapolis, Minn./Naples, Fla.), who not only owns Bella Mente but also helms for the Bella Mente Racing team, which consists of 22 sailors. The team is in the midst of a very ambitious 2013 racing campaign with four events already completed, including February’s RORC Caribbean 600, at which the team took first in IRC 0 and second in IRC overall, and May’s Gaastra PalmaVela, which the team won in the Mini Maxi Class.
After Bella Mente Racing’s last event, the Rolex Giraglia Cup in June, the boat was shipped to Endeavour Quay Boatyard in Gosport, England to undergo preparations and change the boat to its offshore set-up for the two upcoming events.
'Cowes Week will get us back into competitive racing mode,' said Fauth. 'We will compete in three coastal races, and I think the biggest challenge for all of them will be racing on The Solent, which is a large body of water where we will have to combat the extremely strong currents in what is normally a ton of breeze.'
Fauth added that the adverse weather conditions will help the team prepare for the Rolex Fastnet Race, Europe’s oldest offshore race.
'The elements make the Fastnet Race what it is by reputation, and though this is my first time competing in the event, I have heard many people talk about it being multiple races in one,' said Fauth, 'because of all the components that come into play on the course, including the heavy tides and currents, drastic changes in wind and sea conditions and the extremely cold water in the North Atlantic Ocean.'
The level of competition will also be off the charts, with a record 380 yachts signed up to race. They include Niklas Zennström's Ran 2, back-to-back race winner in the Mini Maxi Class.
'Of all the races that we do, Fastnet will demand a 100 percent team effort to succeed. We have to be proficient and execute as a team to win this thing,' said Fauth, noting that the majority of the Bella Mente Racing crew has been involved in numerous Fastnet races.
'Every team that you sail with has a different dynamic and Hap has built around him a great combination of sailors,' said the team’s navigator Ian Moore (Cowes, England), a Volvo Ocean Race and America’s Cup veteran. 'The majority of us have been sailing together on Bella Mente for a couple of years, so when times get tough we have that trust in each other. It is a very mixed team in terms of nationality and personality, and it works incredibly well.
'In any offshore race you take on a lot of responsibility as the navigator, but the Fastnet is completely different than any of the other distance races we have done this year. It is as though you are racing an inshore buoy race for over 600 miles, because there is always something happening and you are always fine tuning.'
Following the Rolex Fastnet Race, Bella Mente Racing will round out the year in Porto Cervo, Italy with September’s Mini Maxi Rolex World Championship, which the team won in 2012.
'Each of these upcoming events is going to bring a slightly different set of challenges to the table,' added Moore, 'but for the Mini Maxi Worlds we are definitely keen on winning the trophy again.'
Bella Mente Racing
by Kirsten Ferguson
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5:28 PM Fri 2 Aug 2013GMT
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