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Race Week at Newport: Bella Mente Racing wins ORC A

by Barby MacGowan 21 Jul 16:00 PDT
Bella Mente went head-to-head with Vesper during Race Week at Newport presented by Rolex © Rolex / Daniel Forster

After winning the New York Yacht Club's Annual Regatta in June, Bella Mente Racing stayed true to fine form and punctuated July with a victory at New York Yacht Club Race Week at Newport presented by Rolex. The biennial race week, in its 13th edition, ran from Wednesday, July 13, to Saturday, July 16, and offered up spectacular sailing conditions and a variety of courses both "inside" on Narragansett Bay and "outside" on Rhode Island Sound. Bella Mente sailed in ORC A Class with only one other rival, the IRC 72 Vesper. (The Maxi 72 Proteus, which had planned to compete, did not do so in the end.)

"What made the regatta great was having Hap back onboard with his team," said Bella Mente's tactician Terry Hutchinson, explaining that Mike Sanderson stepped in to drive for owner/driver Hap Fauth at Annual Regatta. "He brings real energy to the program through his leadership and experience."

Of the eight total races completed by ORC A, one was in light air; the rest were sailed in 8-12 knots.

"We did three races outside the first day; one race up the Bay in flat water the next day; Around Conanicut Island the third day; and three races again inside the Bay the fourth day," said Hutchinson. "Our basic approach was to put emphasis every time on winning the first cross on the first leg. It makes it a whole lot easier for the rest of the race, especially when you are match racing a team like Vesper."

Citing a score line of straight bullets, Sanderson added: "Given that we beat Vesper on the water in all but one race where they withdrew, we are very proud of the results...but first and foremost, we always judge our performance against what we know we are capable of as a team with our boat preparation, practice and execution on the racetrack. After St. Barths where we were so soundly beaten by Vesper in every race and the result was so frustrating, it has been great over these last two events to get back on track. We still, however, aren't where we want or need to be for the Rolex Maxi Worlds at the beginning of September, so there is still a lot of work to do, and we will straight away get our heads together about what the next small steps of improvement are possible."

The Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, serving as the Maxi Worlds, will be held in Port Cervo, Sardinia, Italy, September 2-10, 2022.

"We're starting to find out Bella Mente's capabilities!" said Fauth, who launched his Botin Partners-designed 72-footer in late 2018 and experienced setbacks to his team's racing schedule, as many did, during the Covid-19 pandemic. "It's a new boat in many ways, and this week was a learning experience for our crew, so we are looking forward to the World Championships for more competition."

With Fauth's previous Bella Mente - a Judel/Vroliijk design - Bella Mente Racing captured the Mini Maxi World Championship in 2012 and the Maxi 72 Worlds in 2015 and 2016.

For more information, visit bellamenteracing.com. Follow Bella Mente Racing on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram.

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