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Caol Ila R claims Rolex Capri Sailing Week offshore prologue double

by James Boyd 15 May 22:30 PDT 11-19 May 2018
Caol Ila R en route to Tre Golfi double honours - Rolex Capri Sailing Week © Roberto Della Noce

Inshore racing at Rolex Capri Sailing Week starts Wednesday for the Maxi and Mylius yachts on the magnificent Bay of Naples. From Thursday, the Maxis will be joined by the rest of the Rolex Capri Sailing Week fleet.

Organised by the Circolo del Remo and Vela Italia, the Yacht Club Italiano and Yacht Club Capri, this year in collaboration with the International Maxi Association, Rolex Capri Sailing Week has grown to become one of the most significant regattas not just in Italy, but in the Mediterranean.

"Capri is my favourite place," admits Sir Peter Ogden, owner of Jethou. "You can get very light or heavy winds here, but if you had to choose the number one place to go sailing, then equal top would be Capri and St Tropez."

Ogden and the International Maxi Association have a long relationship with the island, Jethou having previously won the IMA-organised Volcano Race. He returns this year with a heavily 'turboed' Jethou, the former Maxi 72 having a bigger mainsail with a larger roach, a 1m longer bowsprit and greatly enlarged spinnakers. "There are a lot of new things on the boat and we'll see how she goes. This is the first regatta with this new configuration," advises Ogden.

The highest rated boat in Capri, Jethou will be fighting it out at the front of the fleet with Dario Ferrari's Cannonball, American Bryon Ehrhart's newly acquired Lucky (ex-Bella Mente) and Alex Schaerer's Caol Ila R.

The Maxis are sub-divided into 'Racer' and 'Racer Cruiser' classes, plus yachts from Italian builder Mylius, competing for their annual championship.

Roberto Lacorte and his Mark Mills-designed Vismara 62 SuperNikka are competing in the Racer Cruisers: "It is a great pleasure to be back in Capri – I remember racing here in the 2003 IMS World Championship. The Rolex Capri Sailing Week will be our first race this season. With SuperNikka we have finished on the podium in the Mini Maxi Racer division both in 2015 and in 2016."

Lacorte is also using Rolex Capri Sailing Week as a warm-up for the 151 Miglia, the offshore race he created, starting soon afterwards on 31 May. This is followed by the Giraglia Rolex Cup and Palermo to Montecarlo races – the final events of the International Maxi Association's Mediterranean Maxi Offshore Challenge.

Regatta dei Tre Golfi

Rolex Capri Sailing Week officially started on Friday night with the historic 170 mile Regatta dei Tre Golfi offshore race. Organised by the Circolo del Remo and Vela Italia, this was first held in 1954, making it the second oldest event in Italian sailing after the Giraglia Rolex Cup.

Famously the Regatta dei Tre Golfi starts at midnight following dinner at the CRV Italia clubhouse in Naples' Santa Lucia Marina.

This year Caol Ila R scored the double, completing the course in a time of 18 hours, 49 minutes and 24 seconds to claim line honours as well as the overall handicap prize under IRC. For these Swiss owner Alex Schaerer will receive the Gustavo d'Andrea and Mariano Verusio Cups respectively.

To win the event, Caol Ila R went 'ultra-light' going with 15 crew (five to seven less than usual), fewer sails and less gear and food, to improve her performance in light conditions.

"They had a massive spotlight and set some flares off," described Caol Ila R pitman David Sampson of the dramatic start. "We tried to get off the shore quickly because we thought there was some more wind out there and we never stopped - we had enough wind to keep us going the whole night."

The race was essentially a large windward-leeward, north upwind over the early hours to Ponza, with the wind piping up to 17 knots before dropping to nothing for the rounding. "We had the Windseeker on the foredeck but didn't deploy it - we just hung on." This was followed by a run south in 12 knot winds to the Li Galli archipelago which they reached late afternoon, before returning north towards Capri's Marina Grande where they finished early evening.

The bulk of the fleet arrived on Sunday with the slowest boats not reaching Capri until Monday.

Andrew McIrvine, Secretary General of the International Maxi Association commented: "The IMA has had a long association with Rolex Capri Sailing Week, initially when it was linked to the Volcano Race. After a couple of years away we are pleased to be back with a good Maxi fleet. It is also been a great honour and a privilege to be involved with the classic offshore race, the Tre Golfi which has encouraged more maxi owners to compete.

"Rolex Capri Sailing Week demonstrates how the IMA is helping to raise standards and the quality of racing. In turn this is attracting new owners and existing owners back into racing their Maxis. This is something we wish to continue in all our regattas."

Tomorrow racing for the Maxis will take place on windward-leeward courses while for the remainder of the week it will be on round the cans courses.

Rolex Capri Sailing Week schedule:

Wednesday 16 May:

12.00 Warning signal before Maxi Yacht Capri Trophy and Mylius Cup
17.30 Briefing for the CNT skippers at the village regattas
Evening: IMA reception for Maxi owners and IMA members.

Thursday 17 May:

11.25 warning signal MYCT and MC
11.55 warning signal before CNT test
20.30 dinner offered by Mylius Yachts

Friday 18 May:

9.00 skippers' briefing;
10.55 warning signal all classes
20.30 Rolex Owners Gala Dinner.

Saturday, May 19th:

10.55 am warning signal for all classes
6.30 pm prizegiving in the Piazzetta of Capri

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