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Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup and Rolex Maxi 72 Worlds at Yacht Club Costa Smeralda - Day 4

by James Boyd / 6 Sep 2018 12:22 PDT 3-9 September 2018

Two thirds of the way through the 2018 Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup and Rolex Maxi 72 World Championship, some stand-out boats are revealing themselves.

Dieter Schön's MOMO is so far unbeaten and looking highly likely to defend her title in the Rolex Maxi 72 World Championship. In Mini Maxi Group 2, the class of smallest boats competing here in Porto Cervo, Riccardo de Michele's Vallicelli 80 H20 also holds a perfect scoreline after four races at this, the pinnacle event in the maxi yacht calendar, run by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda in conjunction with the International Maxi Association, the official body that oversees and promotes maxi yacht racing globally.

Today it was the turn of the two Mini Maxi classes to sail two windward-leewards on a southeasterly-orientated course laid due east of Porto Cervo. The remainder sailed a coastal course this time to the south of Porto Cervo around the islands of Soffi, Mortorio and Mortoriotto, a short race compared to previous days, to ensure the boats would be tied up back in Porto Cervo before the arrival of a squall, due late afternoon.

In both Mini Maxi classes, there were double winners. In addition to H20, Roberto Lacorte's powerful looking Mark Mills-designed Vismara 62 SuperNikka claimed both races under IRC in the bigger Mini Maxi class and now holds a commanding lead ahead of the Swan 601 Lorina 1895.

"It was a real pleasure to race with my guys today because there were two technical windward-leewards and we learned a lot about how SuperNikka is faster in all conditions - the first race was in 9-12 knots, the second in 12-15 and different sea states - the waves higher in the second race, making it harder to steer." Lacorte was especially pleased with how SuperNikka performed upwind.

Benoit de Froidmont, who at this evening's AGM was appointed the new President of the International Maxi Association, finished third in today's opening race aboard his Wally 60 Wallyño. "The first race was very good - we had a very good start and we did our best, but it is difficult to beat SuperNikka, which is a completely different boat. We are happy – we have been sailing very well and the crew is extremely efficient," said de Froidmont.

Behind MOMO, today it was the turn of Dario Ferrari's Cannonball to claim second place ahead of Peter Harrison's Sorcha. Overall the Italian boat holds second in the Maxi 72 Worlds ahead of George Sakellaris' Proteus.

"For us it is tough to try and have a good result against a boat which is a little faster than you and which is taking you over layline to make your life more difficult..." bemoaned Cannonball's tactician Vasco Vascotto. "But this is part of the game and we are waiting for them to make some mistakes."

Further down the field Sir Peter Ogden's Jethou got off to a good start today and was third around the top mark. "We got overtaken by Cannonball because they dared to go closer to rocks than us," Ogden recounted. "Then in the last part Proteus rolled us, then we rolled them and then we did something like 30 tacks and we held them off. I thought we'd come up with some new tactics the other day which was: Less tacks and less sail changes. But they took absolutely NO notice! It was a really enjoyable day out, a really good regatta, good fun – I love it."

In the Wally class newbie sailor Chinese Canadian Terry Hui aboard his Wally 77 Lyra, made it three bullets in a row, having won both of yesterday's windward-leeward races. Hui, competing in his first ever regatta here, now holds a commanding lead among the Wallys with Sir Lindsay Owen-Jones' Magic Carpet Cubed second and first of the trio of powerful Wallycentos, where today Lebanese American Charif Souki's Tango beat David M. Leuschen's Galateia.

Helming Tango is veteran French America's Cup and offshore skipper Marc Pajot. "We had a good day. The first beat is very important and, with our three boats fighting very close to each other, we decided to go right and Magic Carpet was left and finally was the only boat ahead of us.

"Today the small boats were incredible," Pajot continued. "As there are only two boats [the Wally 77s] they don't do too many tacks." The other Wally 77, J One of Jean-Charles Decaux finished third today.

In the Maxi class, George David's Rambler 88 always romps around the course over the horizon from the opposition, but has yet to win a race at the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup this year. Today Massimiliano Florio's Southern Wind 82, Grande Orazio finished first under IRC corrected time ahead of the former My Song, now Argentinean Miguel Galuccio's Vera, on which Volvo Ocean Race legend Bouwe Bekking is calling the shots. "We have a good Italian team - they are very passionate and with Bouwe's knowledge and way of organising things, we are coming along. It is fantastic venue and a fantastic race," said Galuccio.

Again in the Supermaxi class the podium was exclusively J Class. Unfortunately at the start a race management error caused Topaz to be called over early when it was in fact Velsheda. Post-racing Topaz was awarded a time compensation for this, that causing them to take the joint race win with Svea, leaving Velsheda third.

"We weren't over the line - Velsheda came smoking on in and was the one that was," explained Topaz's helmsman Peter Holmberg. "Otherwise it was a good race. Our team is doing a great job pushing the boat as hard as we can. Manoeuvre-wise all the boats did a couple of gybe-sets today so that was a real challenge for the crew work, and we saw some great work out here. We can run out of hydraulic power in those manoeuvres so it is very hard to do it right – like an orchestra."

This evening crews are all licking their lips with large black clouds brewing to the west and the prospect of sailing in Mistral conditions tomorrow in 15-20 knots or as much as 25 knots according to which forecast you believe. The Maxi 72s will return to racing windward-leewards as the rest will sail coastal courses.

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