A light night and early morning saw the front runners in Rolex Capri Sailing Week’s Volcano Race trickling into Capri’s Marina Grande, after finishing a 230 mile course south around the active volcano of Stromboli before returning to Capri.
Claiming line honours, as expected, was Igor Simcic’s 100ft (30.5m) Esimit Europa 2. The European-flagged Maxi, largest of the 12 boats competing, led the Volcano Race from start to finish. After being becalmed within sight of the line, Esimit finished at lunchtime today, having completed the course in one day, three hours 11 minutes and 44 seconds.
'The race was very interesting, difficult at times, because there wasn’t constant wind,' said owner Igor Simcic. 'The first part was quite good, but then, when we went around Stromboli and afterwards, it was all in the hands of the Gods. But I think we made good choices and we are happy for this victory.'
Reaching Stromboli, Esimit Europa 2 had pulled out a 17 mile lead over the Mini Maxi Robertissima, which had overtaken Villa Saxe Eiffel moving into second place on the water. The French VO70 had been going well, but dropped off to the west and subsequently found herself on the wrong side of a shift coming into Stromboli. As Esimit was becalmed off Stromboli, one of three occasions during the race, Robertissima was able to close to within 8 miles of them.
Esimit Europa 2 skipper, multiple Olympic medallist and double America’s Cup winner Jochen Schuemann, said that they had anticipated a difficult race but had sailed the first leg down to Stromboli and the leg back well. Heading to the island the wind had peaked at 18 knots, but on the way back had not exceeded 15.
In retrospect the only thing they should have done differently was the rounding of Stromboli. But neither was the slow finish ideal. As Schuemann, who in Berlin last Friday was presented with the Golden Sportpyramide, the leading German award for lifetime achievement in sport, commented: 'We finished at the worst time with the transition between the old breeze and the sea breeze just started, but we are very pleased with the boat and with the team.'
The park-ups cost Esimit Europa 2 the lead under IRC, currently held by Roberto Tomasini Grinover’s Judel Vrolijk 72 Mini Maxi, Robertissima, which arrived home second on the water, at 16:47 local this afternoon, to lead Esimit by an hour on corrected.
'It was a big adventure,' said Grinover. 'The idea was to have a very nice regatta in this fantastic place, and it was. We’re leading overall, so better than this we cannot have. Plus the hospitality here in Capri is really fantastic.'
One of Robertissima’s big breaks came after they monitored the race leader’s slow progress around Stromboli and so chose to give the island, and its active volcano, a wide berth.
Robertissima got becalmed again at around 0900 this morning, when Jethou was able to close from five miles to just two behind them. However rather than cover Sir Peter Odgen’s advancing Mini Maxi sistership, Robertissima split east, towards the coast. 'That was a difficult choice,' admitted Grinover.
With a number of the Robertissima crew having jumped ship to compete on Azzurra in the Barclays 52 Super Series here at Rolex Capri Sailing Week, America’s Cup veteran, Paul Cayard has been enlisted to stand in as tactician.
In their match race with Jethou, Cayard observed: 'We took 21 crew and they took 18, so maybe they thought it would be lighter than it was.' It was Cayard who made the call to close on the coast on the way back to Capri, sealing their victory in the Mini Maxis. 'We felt the wind would fill first and strongest there and it did,' said Cayard, whose last offshore race was so long ago he can barely remember – possibly the 2009 Transpac.
Cayard is enjoying his return to Capri, a venue he first raced at almost 30 years ago with Pasquale Landolfi, and has since included winning the Rolex IMS Worlds here 12 years ago on Landolfi’s IMS 50 Brava. 'I love Capri, it is a mystical place.'
The former Il Moro de Venezia skipper has also previously seen the Aeolian Island volcanoes such as Stromboli on the Rolex Middle Sea Race: 'Last night was beautiful, it was spewing out lava from time to time. It was foggy and raining a bit, but despite that you could see the occasional burst of red come out.'
The tailenders in the Volcano Race are not expected into Capri until tomorrow, when it will be known if Robertissima has won the Volcano Race overall.
Meanwhile after a delay ashore the first two races of the Barclays 52 Super Series were held with the first won by the newest boat in the fleet, Eduardo de Souza Ramos’ Phoenix. Unfortunately the Brazilians followed this up with a seventh place in the nine boat fleet, leaving them fourth overall.
Topping the leaderboard after day one is the winner of the second race, and favourite for this regatta, Quantum Racing, currently one point ahead of the 2012 52 Super Series winner, Alberto Roemmers’ Azzurra.
For more information on Rolex Capri Sailing Week and the International Maxi Association - visit International Maxi Association