With only one racing day to go, American Harry MACKLOWE's Unfurled is leading in Cruising A with a 5 point lead, Italian Filippo FARUFFINI's Roma leads Cruising B by 8 points, Alberto ROEMMERS' Alexia from Argentina heads her class by 4 points, Black Dragon is top in Racing by 2 points and, in the Spirit of Tradition class, Alfredo CANESSA's Whitefin from Italy goes into the final day defending the smallest margin of 1 point.
After an initial postponement due to a complete lack of wind - the big black clouds over Porto Cervo preventing the sea breeze from filling in - the Race Committee was able to begin the starting sequence at 1.30pm in a light wind predicted to build. The entire fleet sailed the same course, a 26-mile route starting off Porto Cervo and taking the competitors North, on a long upwind leg, towards the Monaci rocks, then on a tight reach Southwest toward the Secca Tre Monti and then South, on a downwind run, towards the Mortoriotto islet. The final leg took the fleet to a mark in the Golfo Pevero and a short beat to the finish line opposite Porto Cervo.
In the first start of the day, with a fluky NW breeze of 3-4 knots, Alexia looked very strong, opting for the pin end of the line and sailing away in clear air, while the other boats piled up at the Committee boat end, all hoping to get a spot into the line. Italian entry Indio didn't make it and was forced to turn around and re-start. While Alexia and Magic Carpet Squared stretched away, the rest of the fleet struggled against a heavy Southerly swell to get across the line.
With the wind shifting slightly and the Committee end of the line at this point clearly favoured, US entry Ghost - in the second start - took an aggressive approach, shutting out a few of its Cruising A rivals from the Committee boat end of the line. A few minutes before the start, US Harry MACKLOWE's Unfurled had collided into Italian Fabio MANGIFESTA's Charis, the latter belonging to the Cruising B division. Having suffered damage to the right side of the hull, the Italian crew decided to retire from the day's race. Unfurled, with no apparent damage, then found herself over the line early and had to sail around the pin end of the line in order to re-start - a painfully slow process in the light breeze. Eventually, with the third start almost on its way, Unfurled was able to start racing. Charis has filed a request for redress with the International Jury, which will be heard on Saturday.
The third start of the day, with 14 maxis from the Cruising B and Racing divisions all together on the line, provided the most excitement and action. As expected, all the yachts headed for the Committee boat, but it was the Dutch entry Black Dragon who started off in perfect style - first across the line, sailing at full speed in clear air. Roma and Mister A, who so far in the series have showed strong performances, trailed behind the fleet, with Roma having to perform a penalty turn soon after the start due an incident with All Smoke on the starting line. Australian Grant WHARINGTON's entry Skandia took a conservative approach and stayed well out of trouble, starting at mid line. The starting sequence ended with the four Spirit of Tradition yachts.
With the sun breaking through the clouds and stretches of blue sky on the horizon, the northwesterly sea breeze filled in. Costa Smeralda finally lived up to its name, with its striking pink granite islands standing out against the deep blue crystal clear waters. Halfway through the upwind leg to the Monaci, the leading yachts were able to change gears and get into real racing mode, sailing in an increasing 15 knots Northwesterly breeze.
Great Britain's Magic Carpet Squared, owned by Sir Lindsay OWEN-JONES, CEO of L'Oreal, with British America's Cup sailor Adrian STEAD calling the tactics, rounded the Monaci rocks first, followed by Italian Marco Tronchetti PROVERA's Kauris III and Alexia.
Ghost led the Cruising A division, while Skandia powered on at full speed ahead of the Racing division. Roma led the Cruising B division, having recovered well from its start and penalty turn.
The fleet then headed to the SE on a tight reach toward the Secca Tre Monti. In the building breeze and flatter, more protected waters, Skandia gave the most striking performance, steadily catching up on the boats ahead and overtaking with ease. Magic Carpet Squared rounded the mark first, but soon after hoisting its huge blue gennaker, the massive sail exploded, leaving the crew struggling with the takedown. Alexia sailed past whilst the crew on Kauris III, also struggled with its gennaker and for a while were sailing with only the mainsail. Before heading out of the channel toward the Mortoriotto islet, many crews had to perform a spinnaker peel, showing off their skills at handling these huge sails in strong winds. With the heavy Southerly swell still strong, the yachts faced increasingly challenging conditions sailing downwind with a contrasting breeze now reaching 25 knots. A number of gennakers could not cope with the additional loads created by the wind against swell and exploded during this leg.
But it wasn't until the final upwind leg toward the finish line that the worst damage of the day occurred. The mast on Magic Carpet Squared snapped at its top end and left the crew struggling with the problem of a broken rig and ripped mainsail as she limped back to Porto Cervo.
With a faultless performance, Skandia showed her pedigree as a true racing maxi finishing first across the finish line in all classes, followed by Alexia and Y3K. Black Dragon won on handicap in the Racing Division, ahead of Favonius and Skandia, and is now the overall leader of its class. Henk Vander VAART, the Dutch skipper on Black Dragon, commented: 'At the moment we're lying first in class. Today after a long wait we finally had good wind and we had a perfect start. It was really well done and really laid the basis for winning this race. I think the rig suits the boat pretty well as soon as it comes off the wind, because then it is extremely fast.'
Unfurled won on corrected time in the Crusing A, followed by Ghost and Viriella, and is also leading her division overall having turned an series of four first places. America's Cup sailor Thomas BURNHAM III, sailing on Ghost, commented: 'Today was an interesting day because of the heavy breeze and the sea that was running from the opposite direction to the wind. So when we were going downwind in 20 plus knots of breeze, going straight into the waves, it sure put a lot of load on the gear. We felt good that we made it through the day without breaking anything.' Friday was German FRERS' first day aboard Unfurled: 'This was my first race of the series and today was not very good because we had an incident before the start with another boat, which was unfortunate. After that, apparently we were over the line (at the start), although we were pretty sure we were all right; however, we had to come back and we lost about six or seven minutes there. So it was a day that started on the wrong foot.' It was not all bad for Unfurled, FRERS felt it had still been a good and exciting race, 'We were sailing very close together with Gibian; she finally finished ahead, but I think we beat her on handicap so we didn't do too bad afterall'.
OPS 5 won on handicap in Cruising B, followed by Allsmoke and Edimetra, but Roma is still the overall leader in this class. Y3K was first on handicap in the W division, ahead of Alexia and Tiketitan, with Alexia still exerting a tight grip on the overall title. Alberto ROEMMERS Jnr, helmsman of Alexia, had anticipated a more relaxing day: 'First of all we expected a race with less wind. In fact, we did not have our number 3 genoa on board and when this Mistral started we had to cope with the number 1 genoa, so we were a little overpowered on the windward legs. Then we broke one spinnaker, the A2, the big one. Nothing unusual, it just broke. We were in the middle of a peel anyway so we went back to the A3, which we had just lowered. We lost some time so I don't know how it went today, but we were very happy.'
In the Spirit of Tradition category, Whitefin was first on handicap, followed by Adela, and is the overall leader in its division. Italian Alfredo CANESSA, owner of the 90-foot sloop Whitefin, designed by Bruce KING and launched in 1984, this morning was hoping for less wind: 'Unfortunately, so far the weather has been quite unstable and we haven't been able to sail at our full potential. All the equipment, the sails and the crew have been under great stress as the loads on these boats are enormous and it is very difficult to choose the right sails for the changing conditions. In these strong conditions, Adela steams off at full speed through the waves under a full set of sails. We much prefer lighter winds and less choppy seas.' The weather forecast for Saturday 10 September is for North westerly winds, but not as strong as Friday.
The Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, organized by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda in conjunction with the International Maxi Association (IMA), runs from 4-10 September.
For more information about the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup 2005, including entry lists, daily racing reports, results and high-resolution images, go to www.regattanews.com or www.yccs.it
Current Provisional Standings
Place Boat Name Owner Nation, R1/R2/R3/Points
1. BLACK DRAGON Performance Yachting GBR, -/1/2/1/4.0
2. FAVONIUS Roel Pieper BVI, -/3/1/2/6.0
3. SKANDIA Grant Wharington AUS, -/2/7(OCS)/3/12.0
Cruising Division (Provisional Overall)
1. UNFURLED Harry Macklowe USA, 1/1/1/1/4.0
2. GHOST Arne Glimcher USA, 2/2/3/2/9.0
3. VIRIELLA Vittorio Moretti ITA, 3/3/DNF 7/3/16.0
1. ROMA Filippo Faruffini ITA, 1/1/2/4/8.0
2. OPS 5 Massimo Violati ITA, 6/6/3/1/16.0
3. ALLSMOKE Gunter Hertz GBR, 2/3/DNF 10/2/17.0
1. WHITEFIN Alfredo Canessa ITA, 1/2/2/1/6.0
2. ADELA George Lindemann USA, 3/1/1/2/7.0
3. ANNAGINE C.E. Van Asbeck NED, 2/3/3/3/11.0
1. ALEXIA Alberto Roemmers ARG, 1/2/1/2/6.0
2. Y3K Claus Peter Offen GER, 3/1/5/1/10.0
3. TIKETITAN Galeazzo Pecori Giraldi ITA, 2/DNF 13/2/3/20.0