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North Star wins second IMA Maxi European Championship offshore race

by James Boyd / International Maxi Association 14 May 2023 11:09 PDT 12-13 May 2023
Peter Dubens' North Star has been confirmed as maxi IRC overall winner of the Regata dei Tre Golfi, gaining valuable points towards this year's IMA Maxi European Championship © Rolex / Studio Borlenghi

With the 26 strong maxi fleet sub-divided into three classes, the remainder of the Regata dei Tre Golfi maxi fleet arrived throughout the course of yesterday afternoon. Giuseppe Puttini's Swan 65 ketch Shirlaf was last home at 17:45CEST.

Due to the slower boats experiencing shutdowns around the race's southerly turning mark of Li Galli and gusty rain squalls as they approached the finish line off Massa Lubrense, to the west of Sorrento, the offshore race of this second International Maxi Association Maxi European Championship, has proved to be a big boat affair. For a second consecutive year Peter Dubens' former Maxi 72 North Star has won the race's maxi division, by just over seven minutes under IRC corrected time from the race's line honours winner and new record holder, Sir Peter Ogden's Maxi 77 Jethou.

Supported by Rolex as Official Timepiece and Loro Piana, the 150 mile race from Naples to Sorrento, via Ponza in the north and the Li Galli islands in the south, was organised by the Circolo del Remo e della Vela Italia (CRVI) in conjunction with the International Maxi Association, the body officially tasked by World Sailing to administer and develop maxi yacht racing internationally.

While the superbly sailed former Maxi 72s occupied four of the top five spaces on the overall IRC maxi leaderboard for the Regata dei Tre Golfi, holding third was Riccardo de Michele's serial Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup class winning Vallicelli 78 H20, topping the combined Maxi 4-5 class.

"It was good that we had wind for most of the race," de Michele explained. "The trickiest part was from Ponza to Punta Campanella. Then at Li Galli we broke a gennaker - our fault, as we didn't realise it had a small tear in it when we hoisted it. As soon as it went up it blew up..." Otherwise de Michele said they had chosen the best part of the course on Friday night passing Ischia as they left the Bay of Naples then the following morning standing off at Punta Campanella (the tip of the Sorrentine peninsula). They had enjoyed having wind most of the way, although from dawn it was accompanied with rain cells. "H20 is a heavy boat and when it gets stuck it takes a lot to get her moving again."

Having finished fourth last year, in sixth place under IRC was IMA President Benoît de Froidmont aboard his silver Wally 60 Wallyño with a crack French including tactician Cédric Pouligny. "It was very tactical as usual here. The wind was unexpected, but was good because it was windy all the time except the usual place - Li Galli." De Froidmont said that had they had better conditions off the Amalfi coast then they might have challenged the former Maxi 72s for the podium. "The boat was okay. All our manouevres were perfectly executed by the crew. From a tactical point of view we didn't make any mistakes." And this was despite being hammered by a couple of rain squalls accompanied by 30 knots puffs approaching the finish.

The conditions didn't favour the middle of the maxi fleet with Maxi 3 won by Guido Paolo Gamucci's canting keel Mylius 60 Cippa Lippa X, correcting out to 15th in the overall maxi ranking.

"The race was interesting because we had more wind and more rain and a left shift bigger [after Ponza] than we were expecting," said Gamucci. "Unfortunately we weren't fast recognising that and when the left shift came we ended up reaching and lost some of our advantage." However their biggest issue came after passing Punta Campanella and around Li Galli where they parked for 1.5 hours. However this was not as bad as befell the 90ft Shockwave 3 ahead of them which stopped for 2.5 hours (behind in the race after stopping to respond to fellow Trieste maxi Arca SGR's Mayday the previous night).

Gamucci was sad to see his Regata dei Tre Golfi record from 2016 technically broken yesterday by Sir Peter Ogden's Jethou, but observed: "The race track was different then: We sailed 14 miles more because it finished in Naples - 14 very important miles!"

Tomorrow (Monday) is the first of four days of inshore racing for the IMA Maxi European Championship. For this the maxi fleet will comprise 22 yachts ranging in size from numerous 60 footers such as Wallyño to the longest Shockwave 3.

Looking forward to this is Neapolitan, CRVI Honorary Member and former Luna Rossa Italian America's Cup helmsman Francesco de Angelis, who will be racing on Dario Ferrari's former Maxi 72 Cannonball.

"I like the place - I have spent a lot of time here and I used to sail dinghies here," said de Angelis. "This week will be a mixed bag, with the weather very 'front-related' - different from the usual pattern. It will be tricky to sail. The forecast on Tuesday looks pretty windy while Thursday looks like a light day. But we will have to see how the weather shapes up."

Of the competition he adds: "There are lots of good teams and good boats - it will be a fantastic race."

IMA President Benoît de Froidmont concluded: "The organisation is very impressive for this event. The yacht club invests a lot of energy into its organization which it is good for the owners. Now we have a new village here in Sorrento. And the fleet is extremely competitive, which is a pleasant surprise given the present economic situation."

While the Regata dei Tre Golfi was the second event in the 2022-23 IMA Mediterranean Maxi Offshore Challenge, tomorrow's inshore races will be the second of the IMA's equivalent Inshore Challenge, which began with PalmaVela last weekend.

For more information about Regata dei Tre Golfi and Tre Golfi Sailing Week visit www.tregolfisailingweek.com

Full results here.

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