A dramatic shift in the weather provided opportunities for some and disappointment for others in the first day of racing in the Rolex Swan Cup taking place in Porto Cervo and Organized by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda.
The 102-boat fleet is divided into three groups: Class A consists of the fastest yachts, including the latest performance model from Nautor's Swan, the Swan 601, Class B encompasses the fleet of Swan 45 one-design models, while those Swans with a TCF under 1.185 are grouped in Class C/D.
The three classes competed on different courses: Class A raced two windward-leewards of around 8 miles, while the Swan 45's (Class B) sailed a 24-mile course which took them up to Monaci Island before heading south to Secca Tre Monti and on to Mortoriotto. Class C/D competed on a similar course, but finished line at the entrance to the port of Porto Cervo, reducing the race distance for these smaller boats to approximately 16 miles.
At the start, the sirocco breeze was approximately 10-12 knots from the southeast, but by the third leg had begun to shift steadily right, died completely and then filled in by the end of the race from the northwest.
For the Swan 45's, a close start found Leonardo FERRAGAMO'S Cuordileone in good position and with good speed at the pin end. They led their fleet to the top mark and partway down the first run where they were overtaken by the Australian boat Ginger. On the second beat to Mortoriotto, Cuordileone went inshore; shortly after the breeze shifted right and the boats outside and behind were in a better position with the shift. Noted grand-prix and offshore sailor Paul CAYARD, tactician onboard said, "we watched a few boats from behind cut in front and pass us -- at one point we were back to sixth or so. We finally bit the bullet and got in line and fought our way back. We feel pretty good given the situation".
Cuordileone finished second to the Italian Swan 45, Vertigo.
In Class C/D, Tommaso CHIEFFI, Tactician on the Swan 48 Solenia 2, commented on their win: "There was a good breeze and we managed to have a fast start. We got out in front straight away rounding the first marker 1 minute ahead and increased our lead for the rest of the race, eventually finishing two minutes ahead.
Chieffi continued: "I'm feeling positive about our chances for the week ahead as long as we continue to sail consistently. We've got a great crew and Solenia 2 is a fantastic boat to sail. I have sailed in four Swan Cup's, having won twice, and am returning to this regatta having taken time out for the America's Cup (with Oracle BMW Racing) - its great to be back! There is a great mix of Swans here with both amateur and professional sailors all competing together. The combination of the Swan yachts, the great wind and the beautiful setting in Sardinia is perfect."
In Class A, it was Italian Massimo DENTICE'S Bugia Bianca (Swan 70) with a perfect 1 - 1 for 1st place overall, Paul WINKELMANN'S Swan 601 Island Fling with a 8 - 3 for 2nd, and Dutchman Roel PIEPER'S Swan 80 Favonius with a 10 - 2 for 3rd place.
With a line-up of top-ranking competitive sailors such as Ian WALKER and Adrian STEAD on the Swan 86 Hamilton in Class A, Vasco VASCOTTO on the Swan 45 Mascalzone Latino and Roy HEINER on Favonius, yesterday's races were hard fought.
Rolex is title sponsor for this biennial event which attracts beautiful sailing Swan yachts and top-class sailors from across the globe to compete in Sardinia. Full results are available on the event website at the address below.