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Honours for Atalanta II and ARCA SGR in shortened 151 Miglia-Trofeo Cetilar

by James Boyd / International Maxi Association 31 May 11:35 PDT 30 May - 1 June 2024
Dawn breaks as ARCA SGR heads for her third 151 Miglia line honours victory - 151 Miglia-Trofeo Cetilar © Studio Taccola

After last year's ultra-light 151 Miglia-Trofeo Cetilar, this year's race from Livorno to Punta Ala saw the organisers - Yacht Club Repubblica Marinara di Pisa, Yacht Club Punta Ala and Yacht Club Livorno - forced to make not one but two pre-race course changes. Both were designed to protect the smaller boats in the fleet from the worst of the gale force westerly winds blowing around Corsica.

At 1400 on Thursday 30 May, a depleted fleet of 191 yachts (down from the 242 entered) set sail from off Marina di Pisa bound for the islands of Pianosa and Montecristo before heading east to Formiche di Grosseto, the final turning mark, and on to the Punta Ala finish. Leading around the race track were 11 maxis, the event being the fourth in the International Maxi Association's 2023-24 Mediterranean Maxi Offshore Challenge.

Sadly with the new course avoiding strong winds, prospects evaporated of either Furio Benussi's ARCA SGR or race organiser and sponsor Roberto Lacorte and his 60ft foiler FlyingNikka breaking Rambler 88's 2019 race record of 13 hours 50 minutes 43 seconds. It also made the Trieste-based 100 footer the more favoured, slightly, for line honours.

Sure enough, at the start, as FlyingNikka sailed deeper angles to get up on her foils, the mighty ARCA SGR was making better progress up the course. When the first transition occurred northeast of Capraia at around 1800, ARCA SGR was just enough ahead to get into the new pressure first and by the time she passed west of Elba led by 25km. As the boats behind struggled to pass Elba, the 100 footer was going well until parking up firmly just short of Montecristo. It took her almost three hours to cover the last 5km to the race's southerly turning mark, allowing the chasing pack to close. It was only in the last half of the penultimate leg to Formiche di Grosseto that ARCA SGR was back up to speed, sailing downwind in 16 knots of wind at 16 knots of boat speed.

Ultimately ARCA SGR crossed the finish line at 07:19:38 in 17 hours 14 minutes 38 seconds. "After Capraia it was really tricky because the conditions were really different to what the weather models predicted, then at Montecristo it was really stop and go," commented Furio Benussi of ARCA SGR's third 151 Miglia-Trofeo Cetilar line honours victory.

"It was important for us to win the line honours. We are happy and the guys worked really hard, especially Alberto Fantini, who is an amazing person and an amazing sailor." En route to Formiche di Grosseto two headsail halyards had got crossed and it was the wizened Italian pro who went aloft to untangle them.

While the light conditions in 'the bubble' (ie the lee of Corsica) destroyed FlyingNikka's line honours chances, she made a superb comeback en route to Formiche di Grosseto. Sixth on the water at Montecristo, a long gybe south into stronger breeze enabled her to hit speeds of 30+ knots elevating her comfortably to second. This she held, reaching Punta Ala just under an hour after ARCA SGR, despite having sailed almost 40% more miles to stay on her foils. "Once again we demonstrated that FlyingNikka only needs to be flying 30% of the time to overtake every kind of fast boat," commented Lacorte. But sadly they had not quite achieved this. "Like last year we were affected by very, very light winds and it was impossible to find a way out. Our race was crazy - stopping a lot and accelerating a lot." Conditions were especially lively en route to Formiche di Grosseto when the sea had built up, but was fortunately following.

Having barely had any sleep (FlyingNikka has two bunks, but motion and noise makes sleep realistically impossible) Lacorte was pleased with the latest developments made to the foils and sail plan of his foiling 60 footer, which overall resembles a smaller offshore-capable version of the AC75s used in the America's Cup.

Almost two hours after ARCA SGR, Dr Carlo Puri Negri's Farr/Felci 70 Atalanta II was fifth home, winning the maxi class by 2 minutes 43 seconds from Guido Paolo Gamucci's canting keel Mylius 60 Cippa Lippa X under IRC corrected time.

"It was fantastic - I really enjoyed it," commented Puri Negri, who steered for all but three hours of the race. "The greater part of the race was upwind and this boat, even though she is 20 years old, is good at that. Downwind, Cippa Lippa X with a canting keel, even if she is only 60ft, is gone. We made SO many sail changes...!"

Completing the podium was Marco Malgara and Alex Lang's Nice, the successful 1995 vintage 78ft ILC maxi formerly known as Capricorno, sailing her first regatta since being sold by the del Bono family.

"The boat was fantastic. We need to learn how to use her, but her potential is excellent," said Malgara. Half way into the race, Nice had been leading off Elba until she stopped for an hour. Malgara said that he also enjoyed the close racing with other maxis such as Cippa Lippa X. "It was a lot of fun - we reached a top speed of 16.5 knot under gennaker."

Second for the last two years, Aldo Parisotto's Mylius 65 FD Oscar3 failed to reach the podium, albeit losing out to Nice by less than one minute. "There were less transitions - perhaps just three - but we still stopped three times and it was very complicated," said Parisotto. "It was exciting to sail the new course with no Giraglia rounding. I am tired - I didn't sleep because we were racing with a reduced crew."

With the maxis safely berthed in Punta Ala marina, crews are now awaiting tomorrow's prize-giving and the event's spectacular post race sit-down dinner for 2000 people in the magnificent seaside grounds of the Yacht Club Punta Ala.

Andrew McIrvine, IMA Secretary General commented: "It was good to see some new teams and such close racing within the maxi fleet both for line honours and corrected time. I feel confident that after all Roberto Lacorte's hard work, FlyingNikka will soon enjoy a race with consistent foiling conditions enough to show off her full capabilities and win line honours."

Follow the 151 Miglia-Trofeo Cetilar yb tracker here.

Maxi class results here.

More information on the IMA Mediterranean Maxi Offshore Challenge here.

For more on the International Maxi Association visit or see the 2024 IMA Yearbook.

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