The class winners at the 23rd Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup are: Bella Mente (USA) winner of the Mini Maxi Rolex World Championship; Esimit Europa 2 (SLO) in Maxi Racing; Aegir (GBR) in Maxi Racing/Cruising; Magic Carpet 2 (GBR) in Wally while Nilaya (GBR) completely dominated the Supermaxi class.
A dramatic Mini Maxi Rolex World Championship was set to conclude with a climactic head to head between two-time Rolex Worlds winner Niklas Zennstrom's Rán 2 (GBR) and Hap Fauth's Bella Mente. The latter, a brand new 72-foot launch, had led all week with Rán only drawing level on points following yesterday's coastal race. Both crews had won three races but by virtue of a counting a second place to Rán's fourth, Bella Mente ended Zennstrom's domination of the competition since its inauguration in 2010.
"We would like to have sailed today and we were emotionally ready for the contest but the wind gods were not with us," admitted Fauth. "It was a great week, we had tremendous sailing, and are delighted with the outcome. I've got a great crew and a new boat which we are still trying to figure out but the outcome is just wonderful."
"The competitors across the class are fantastic," finished Fauth. "It is honour to be on a race course with these guys. The gentlemen sailing is fantastic. It is as close racing as I've ever done. All the boats are very even."
In the wildly diverse Maxi Racing class, contested by four very contrasting yachts, Igor Simcic's 30.48m (100-ft) Esimit Europa 2 has been the fastest boat on the water throughout the week. On corrected time she has had to share the spotlight with two others in her class: Lord Irvine Laidlaw's 25.24m Highland Fling (MON) and the 39.5m Velsheda (GBR). With all three crews finishing on eight points, yesterday's bullet was enough to hand the title to Simcic's pan-European crew, led by Jochen Schümann.
"We have been winning from the beginning of the season," said Simcic, who won the same class in 2010. "This is not the ideal type of racing for our boat especially in the strong winds. The team worked very hard, as every second counts, like in match racing."
In the Maxi Racing/Cruising class, Brian Benjamin's Aegir 2 (GBR) has been the standout boat all week, claiming four bullets. An emphatic way to make up for last year's disappointment when the crew lost out to the Swan 90 DSK Pioneer Investments (ITA) by mere seconds. For Aegir, this year's success joins the 2010 class title in Benjamin's trophy cabinet.
Sir Lindsay Owen-Jones' 28.53m (94-ft) Magic Carpet 2 (GBR) is probably making her last appearance at the event before Owen-Jones upgrades to a new Wally Cento, Magic Carpet 3. Taking three bullets, Magic Carpet 2 saw off a spirited challenge from Thomas Bscher's 28.60m Open Season (GBR). It is a third success in Porto Cervo for Owen-Jones, following victories in 2006 and 2008.
"It is always extremely exciting and uncertain until the last moment," commented Owen-Jones. "There is always seconds between us as the boats are always very equally handicapped and at any given moment it can all go wrong, like it did for us yesterday!"
Owen-Jones put the success down to the team's longstanding collaboration: "I try to choose the very best people and I'm not afraid of having people who are more talented than I am around me." Now the focus for Owen Jones is the launch of his new boat scheduled for 2013. "Magic Carpet 3 will be in the tradition of Magic Carpet, applying everything we know today. It will be a very acceptable cruising boat for my family in the summer and then become quite a hot race boat. It will be wide, like most of these new boats, with almost half the weight in the keel and a powerful rig."
Meanwhile, Nilaya made short work of the Supermaxi class, defending the title she won last year. Filip Balcaen's crew claimed four bullets, adding to her line honours success at this year's Rolex Volcano Race.
All five class winners were awarded Rolex timepieces and Bella Mente the Mini Maxi Rolex World Championship Trophy at the final prizegiving held on Piazza Azzurra in front of the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda.