There were sighs of relief today as Capri and the Bay of Naples came alive for the final day of Maxi and 52 Super Series racing at Rolex Capri Sailing Week. After two days of the best intentions, but ultimately no racing, today the Maxis were able to complete a coastal race as the 52s sailed two final windward-leewards.
The 20 mile Maxi course took the boats across to a turning mark off Punta Campanella on the south side of the Sorrento Peninsula, before back tracking into the Bay of Naples with a leeward mark at its eastern extremity, off Castellammare di Stabia in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius. The boats then returned west to Capri with a final mark off the paradise island’s Grotta Azzurra, finally finishing off the regatta’s centre at Marina Grande.
Under skies clear, racing started in a promising 8-10 knot southeasterly, that built marginally before shutting down en route to the final turning mark off Grotta Azzurra. Thankfully it filled in enough to allow competitors to finish.
A wide spread of boats has been competing in the Maxi fleet at Rolex Capri Sailing Week, from the 100ft Esimit Europa 2 (IRC TCC of 1.841) to Giuseppe Puttini’s Shirlaf, a classic Swan 65 (IRC TCC 1.101) of the type made famous for winning the first Whitbread Round the World Race in 1974. Today favoured Shirlaf, which completed the course in four hours 38 minutes compared to Esimit Europa 2’s three hours. Jeremy Pilkington’s Baltic 78, Lupa of London, looked strong, but was eventually beaten by just two minutes on corrected time by Shirlaf.
The Swan 65’s crew had an easier time through the transition area, but also had local knowledge on its side – owner Giuseppe Puttini lives in Sorrento, just seven miles away, as does his boat. Since buying Shirlaf as a wreck in 1999, Puttini and his crew competed with some success and were runners-up in both the 2010 and 2012 Rolex Swan Cup – the event they most want to win this season.
They were also helped by their tactician, former America’s Cup helmsman Paolo Cian: 'It was tough, especially in the Volcano Race. We were fourth, but then it took 3.5 hours to complete the last mile – we arrived at the wrong time when there were two winds fighting. It was very depressing.' Generally Puttini says he enjoyed the regatta. 'Of course we would like more breeze, but it is a lot of fun. We enjoy every day sailing on this boat.'
For their efforts Shiraf and her crew are the first recipients of the Gianfranco Alberini Perpetual Trophy, named after the late General Manager of the International Maxi Association, who died in 2013. As his successor Andrew McIrvine stated: 'He [Alberini] designed this regatta and the Volcano Race and both were very very close to his heart. As a special tribute to him, we conceived this trophy, for a particular act of sportsmanship. We have decided that the people who have shown the most sportsmanship and the most determination, sitting out there for 58 hours on the Volcano Race, is Shirlaf.'
Coming very very close to winning today’s coastal race was Lupa of London, Jeremy Pilkington’s crew including Irish round the world veteran Gordon Maguire and Vendee Globe skipper Jonny Malbon.
'We made a couple of choices out there which worked in our favour,' explained Pilkington. 'We got some wind and a couple of good lanes, so it turned out well. It was nice to race finally!'
Despite losing of two days of racing and getting ‘stuck’ to Stromboli for nine hours during the Volcano Race, Pilkington remains a fan of the regatta. 'It is a beautiful island, a great venue and the race committee has worked particularly hard to get racing in.'
Between the Volcano Race and today’s coastal, it was Roberto Tomasini Grinover’s JV72 Mini Maxi Robertissima III, which came out on top in the highly competitive Mini Maxi Racing class, winning the match race against her all-black sistership, Sir Peter Ogden’s Jethou.
'The regatta was very complicated, because the wind was very unstable at times,' said Tomasini Grinover. 'My crew did a fantastic job and I am happy that we finished one of the coastal races because the weather wasn’t the best this week, although they were for enjoying Capri and its hospitality. I would like to say a big thanks to the organisers, the International Maxi Association and Yacht Club Capri. It is a fantastic place and we’d like to come back.'
Grinover was doubly pleased because five of his regular Mini Maxi crew, including tactician Vasco Vascotto, had been called away to compete in the 52 Super Series aboard Azzurra, which today won the 52 Super Series overall at Rolex Capri Sailing Week.
Relatively unchallenged this week has been the European 100ft maxi Esimit Europa 2, first home in today’s coastal race, only to finish eighth on corrected.
'Today there was really good sailing, especially at the beginning when there was breeze,' recounted Slovenia owner of the blue maxi, Igor Simcic. 'The breeze died a little bit later, but I am happy with our result.'
At the prizegiving, held on the steps outside Yacht Club Capri, Claus-Peter Offen, President of the International Maxi Association, organiser of Rolex Capri Sailing Week in conjunction with Yacht Club Capri, summed up: 'The level of participants is growing every year, so it is a highly competitive event we are enjoying here in Capri. Thank you all for coming and we all know that you’ll be back next year.' Maxis
Mini Maxi Racing-Cruising division
1. Good Job Guys (Enrico Gorziglia – ITA)
2. Shirlaf (Giuseppe Puttini – ITA)
3. Dos Much (Andres Varela – ESP) Mini Maxi Racing division
1. Robertissima (Roberto Tomasini Grinover – ITA)
2. Jethou (Sir Peter Ogden – GBR)
3. Wild Joe (Marton Jozsa – HUN) Maxi overall winner:
Esimit Europa 2 (Igor Simcic – SLO) 52 Super Series
1. Azzurra (Alberto Roemmers, ARG)
2. Vesper (Jim Swartz, USA)
3. Quantum Racing (Doug DeVos, USA)
Full results here International Maxi Association website