Organizers the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda and Boat International Media could not have hoped for a better start to the seventh edition of the Loro Piana Superyacht regatta than a day which brought perfect breeze, glorious sunshine and a 30 mile course winding through the picturesque islands of the La Maddalena archipelago. At the conclusion of today's first race early leaders in their respective divisions are the 35-metre Firefly (Division A), the 37-metre Dubois-Fitzroy collaboration Moonbird (Division B) and Grande Orazio (Division B), newly launched from Southern Wind Shipyards in January of this year.
Mistral winds of around 15 knots accompanied the spectacular fleet from the pursuit-style start off Porto Cervo and on to round the top of the La Maddalena island, where winds had built to 20 knots, before heading back toward the coast of Sardinia and downwind along the channel known as 'Bomb Alley' to the finish.
Dutch yacht Firefly was followed in Division A by the 37-metre Ghost, America's Cup veteran Tom Whidden on tactics, and the Wally Cento Magic Carpet in third place.
Moonbird, helmed by double Olympic gold medallist Shirley Robertson, came first on corrected time in Division B ahead of the 34-metre Royal Huisman sloop Unfurled. The SW100 Cape Arrow claimed third place.
New Zealander Cameron Appleton, tactican aboard Moonbird, was pleased with today's racing: 'Day One at the Loro Piana was beautiful. It was a great race and the two WallyCentos went by us within the final metres of the course. All in all we're pleased, as we find out coming ashore we were 12 seconds ahead of Unfurled. A real close battle and it's probably going to stay like that all week.'
Division C saw Grande Orazio tailed by Karibu, with Jesper Bank calling tactics, with the 80-footer Selene by Natutor's Swan in third.
'We are delighted with this start to the week.' commented Grande Orazio's owner, YCCS Member Massimiliano Florio. 'The boat is brand new, launched in January and brought here from South Africa in March so this is the first regatta she has participated in. We're testing the boat, today we were very fast and we had to be careful of keeping our distance from the other boats. We have a strong crew that has sailed together for a long time and so we hope to keep improving.'
On their return to the docks crews gathered on the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda's Piazza Azzurra for post-race drinks offered by Pantaenius while owners prepared for the gala dinner organized by Loro Piana at the YCCS. Racing is scheduled to continue tomorrow, Thursday 5th June, at 12 midday. The forecast is for approximately eight knots of south-easterly breeze. Event website