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Bella Mente Racing posts impressive victories at NYYC's 168th Annual Regatta

by Barby MacGowan 15 Jun 15:07 PDT 10-12 June 2022
New York Yacht Club Annual Regatta © Daniel Forster

Bella Mente Racing's positive feelings about racing in the New York Yacht Club's 168th Annual Regatta (June 10 -12) off Newport, R.I. translated into the team's victory over five other ORC A class competitors in both Friday's Around the Island Race and the weekend's separately scored series of six around-the-buoys races.

"The Around the Island Race was a lot of fun, as tricky, changeable conditions really meant that no lead was safe," said Mike "Moose" Sanderson, who in the absence of owner/driver Hap Fauth served as Bella Mente's skipper over the event's three racing days, "but we started well, managed to pass Proteus (a Maxi 72 as is Bella Mente) and then it was a matter of keeping it simple and trying to (avoid) the 'land mines' ahead!" The land mines were the slower boats in some of the 13 other classes that started ahead of ORC A.

According to Bella Mente Racing's tactician Terry Hutchinson, both the Around the Island Race and the Annual Regatta series were very hard-fought, but for different reasons. "For the Around the island Race, Belle Mente had to contend with not only our competition (which included long-time rival Vesper, an IRC 72) but also two transition zones (major wind shifts) and lots of bogeys (other boats) on the racecourse to navigate through," he said. "Saturday/Sunday racing was equally as good. Bella Mente, Proteus, and Vesper each won races, and while Bella Mente came out on top it was an incredibly tight event."

Indeed, as stellar as Bella Mente's performance was in the weekend's primarily moderate breezes, there was no real turning point when the team felt assured of overall victory. "The last race was short, so when we led Vesper around the first lap after a lot of exciting boat-on-boat action, it was looking more likely we'd win," said Sanderson, "however, it's never over in this class, which makes it exciting all the way to the end."

Sanderson and Hutchinson both noted that training sessions leading up to this event were critical in the continual development of Bella Mente and its equipment. As part of that, Coach James Lyne analyzed the boat's sail set-up, maneuvers and weight placement. During training and racing, he photographs and records the performance of the boat from an aero and hydro standpoint. "We were really happy with the new rig and sails," said Sanderson, "but somehow we need to find some rating optimization without slowing the boat down, so we have some fun challenges ahead!"

Sanderson added that for the Annual Regatta, Bella Mente Racing knew that Bella Mente would be most closely matched with Vesper and Proteus. In the end, the three finished, respectively, in first, second and third with only one point separating each position. "The fact that we all ended up so close on points was no surprise," he said, "but Vesper beat up on us pretty hard at the previous regatta in the Caribbean, so it was nice to be at least in the hunt. We are under no illusion, though; we still have a lot of work to do if we want to be in the mix for the Maxi World Championships later this year."

Meanwhile, next up for Bella Mente is the July 13-16 New York Yacht Club Race Week at Newport.

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