Please select your home edition
Edition
Cyclops Marine 2023 November - LEADERBOARD

Light wind weapon Black Jack scores Palermo-Montecarlo line honours

by James Boyd / International Maxi Association 25 Aug 2023 13:52 PDT 22-25 August 2023

Given the light, patchy forecast, the Palermo-Montecarlo, which set sail on Tuesday 22 August, yet again proved itself to be highly tactical demanding patience and utmost concentration from competitors.

With a 437 mile long course taking the fleet from Sicily to Montecarlo via a gate off Porto Cervo, the race was organised by the Circolo della Vela Sicilia (CVS) and Yacht Club de Monaco in partnership with Yacht Club Costa Smeralda (YCCS) under the patronage of Federazione Italiana Vela and Unione Vela Altura Italiana. It was also the last of seven events in the International Maxi Association's 2022-23 Mediterranean Maxi Offshore Challenge. Among 44 competitors, four were maxis.

While the fleet enjoyed light steady wind on the first afternoon, generally there was little synoptic breeze requiring them to make the most of the thermal land and sea effects. The race became a game of snakes and ladders. On the first afternoon Peter Harburg's 100ft maxi Black Jack powering away making 11 knots. The multinational crew, including multiple America's Cup winner Brad Butterworth and Volvo Ocean Race winner Joca Signorini, reached the Porto Cervo gate in 26 hours 3 minutes 50 seconds and continued up La Maddalena archipelago and the Strait of Bonifacio but got stuck off southern Corsica on the second evening. Black Jack was 6 hours 25 minutes ahead of Claudio Demartis's Shockwave Prosecco DOC on the water at the Porto Cervo gate (and more than four hours ahead under IRC corrected time) but the park-up allowed her 90ft rival to recover ground.

"It was pretty flukey and we wasted some time getting back to shore to find the land breeze at night," recounted Black Jack skipper Mark Bradford. "We linked that up pretty nicely, but there was a lot of downtime in those manoeuvres, going 90 degrees to the course." After hugging the Corsican coast, the Aussie maxi finally bid it farewell on Thursday morning and had a good run to the finish reaching Montecarlo on Thursday evening at 19:53:06. Given the conditions, her elapsed time of 55 hours three minutes six seconds, was surprisingly close to the race record of 47 hours, 46 minutes and 48 seconds which Black Jack managed in 2015 when she was Igor Simcic's Esimit Europa 2.

Given that the race's average wind speed was only 3-4 knots Bradford felt they, and especially Black Jack, had done well. "She is so juiced up in light air - in 4 knots we can do 11. She is made for light air and races like this. We were probably ahead of the record when we got to gate, but we lost it all off the southern Corsica."

Of the race generally Bradford continued: "It was about getting through the nights without stopping. We managed to do that pretty nicely." Compared to earlier races in the Med this season when the faster boats were typically sailing into less pressure, for this race conditions were more even, possibly even favouring the leaders. Anticipating a light race, Black Jack had kept her 18 crew, but had gone light, taking the smallest sail wardrobe: her 'turbo' set-up of mainsail, J1 and masthead Code 0, plus staysails. According to Bradford, the wind direction, mainly due to the apparent wind, was never aft of the beam.

Black Jack's often forgotten secret weapon is her tungsten keel bulb (grandfathered due to her age). Tungsten has 171% the density of lead, resulting in a lower drag bulb for the same weight.

Shockwave 3 Prosecco DOC's elapsed time was 71 hours 46 hours and 3 minutes, correcting out to more than a 13 hours behind her bigger rival under IRC, however the Trieste-based 90 footer had managed to wriggle free in the park-up that beset those chasing her into the finish.

On Thursday evening, seeing Shockwave 3 Prosecco DOC becalmed ahead of them, I Love Poland and the Cookson 50 Kula 3 had split from the Corsican coast. In the early hours, the 90 footer at last got going and at one point this morning was 20 miles closer to the finish. However 10 miles short of the line Shockwave 3 Prosecco DOC parked up enabling I Love Poland and Kuka 3 to close to within two miles of her.

In the last moments, I Love Poland chose a westerly route into the line, as Kuka 3 split east, where she found better breeze finishing just over eight minutes ahead.

I Love Poland skipper Grzegorz Baranowski said: "On the one hand it is a beautiful race sailing around Sardinia, Porto Cervo and La Maddalena and Corsica are beautiful. On the other hand for our quite heavy boat designed for 20+ knots, if you park a few times and there is a small boat sailing around you, it is hard. It is not that easy to accept that smaller carbon boats like the Cookson 50 are quicker than us in these conditions, but that is part of the game. We are a training team - our young guys have to learn and accept this kind of thing."

Of the finish Baranowski said: "We were 1.5 miles behind Shockwave when they caught breeze and we parked for another hour. We split completely [with Kuka]. They chose the right. We chose the left and stayed close to the shore because we thought there was more wind inside. But the wind came from the other place and we finished one mile behind them. It was really close. They got wind which we never got."

At the time of writing, Kuka 3 was leading the Palermo-Montecarlo overall under IRC but was thought unlikely to stay in this position with the smaller boats looking set to finish with breeze.

The 18th Palermo-Montecarlo can be followed on the yb tracker.

Related Articles

Greek first timers claim Aegean 600 Maxi victory
In the process Aiolos also receives maximum points for this event in the IMA Maxi Offshore Challenge In a race as tough as the Aegean 600 you would not expect first timers to collect much silverware - however Greece's George Procopiou, aboard his newly acquired VO70 Aiolos, defied the odds to win the race's Maxi class. Posted on 11 Jul
Lucky claims Aegean 600 monohull line honours
As MODs match race to new record MOD70s may now be flying machines, well outside of their original one design configuration, but you would not have known that, given the multiple lead changes and tightness of their racing in this year's Aegean 600. Posted on 9 Jul
Maxi fleet may cause Aegean 600 records to fall
A stronger than ever maxi yacht entry within record-sized overall fleet of 69 Rapidly becoming a classic among the world's 600 mile offshore races, the Hellenic Offshore Racing Club's Aegean 600 supported by Olympic Marine and with Rolex as official timepiece for the very first time attracted a stronger than ever maxi yacht entry. Posted on 4 Jul
Spirit of Lorina crowned top IRC maxi
Loro Piana Giraglia's offshore finale from Saint-Tropez into Genoa Jean-Pierre Barjon has already enjoyed much success with his Botin 65 Spirit of Lorina having won the International Maxi Association's Mediterranean Maxi Offshore Challenge in 2021-22. Posted on 14 Jun
Black Jack first home in Loro Piana Giraglia
Finishing 15 minutes outside the race record After Wednesday's ultra-light start on the Golfe de Saint-Tropez to relatively benign conditions following a thunderstorm before arriving into Genoa, it was hard to believe that thanks to a big breeze sleigh-ride in between - to the Giraglia rock & beyond Posted on 13 Jun
Jethou and Wallyño reign supreme
In Loro Piana Giraglia inshore races, offshore race starts Wednesday A second 20 mile coastal race, this time from Saint-Tropez down to a turning mark off L'Escalet and back, rounded off the inshore series for the maxis competing in Loro Piana Giraglia. Posted on 11 Jun
Loro Piana Giraglia Day 3
Spectacular conditions for day three of maxi coastal racing After two days of windward-leewards on the Bay of Pampelonne, day three of inshore racing at Loro Piana Giraglia saw a change with 19 of the 24 strong maxi fleet racing a single coastal course, starting and finishing in the Golfe de Saint-Tropez. Posted on 10 Jun
Loro Piana Giraglia Day 2
Lumpy conditions on the second day of inshore racing in Saint-Tropez While conditions at this time of year in Saint-Tropez are renowned for being light and thermal, today competitors at Loro Piana Giraglia were treated to easterlies into the high teens combined with a short violent chop. Posted on 9 Jun
Loro Piana Giraglia Day 1
Early maxi class leads for Jolt and Wallyño The first of four days of inshore racing at Loro Piana Giraglia got under way today on the Bay of Pampelonne, close to Saint-Tropez. Posted on 8 Jun
New look Giraglia attracts record maxi entry
The first of four days of inshore racing start on Saturday Loro Piana Giraglia 2024 sets sail tomorrow with the first of four days of inshore racing on the Golfe de Saint-Tropez, prior to Wednesday's traditional offshore race from Saint-Tropez to Genoa via the famous rock off north Corsica. Posted on 7 Jun
Allen Dynamic 40 FooterRooster Women's Wetsuit RangeETNZ-STORE-728X90 one B BOTTOM