Under clear blue skies with winds between 11-16 knots from the northeast, 33 boats hit the starting line for day one of the 2004 Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup hosted by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda.
The dream fleet of assembled Maxi yachts is divided into three divisions: Racing, Cruising and the Wally class.
In race one, each division sailed slightly different versions of a course that took the yachts down the coast to the Islands of Mortorio and Soffi with the finish located off Porto Cervo. The Racing Division sailed 33 miles by virtue of an extra downwind and upwind leg after the first windward mark and a long leg upto the island of Monaci. The Wally Division, which also went to Monaci, sailed 29.5 miles, whilst the Cruising Division sailed only 22 miles. Some clever planning by the YCCS race committee intended to give all the racers a similar length of time on the water.
The fleet includes an array of top competitive sailors such as Francesco de ANGELIS on Randall PITMAN'S Genuine Risk and Mauro PELASCHIER on Vittorio MORETTI'S Viriella.
With yachts ranging in size from 20 metres (66 feet) to upwards of 40 metres (175 feet) the start line is no place for the faint-hearted. Yesterday's winners were: Pyewacket, owned by Roy DISNEY (USA) in the Racing Division, with Luca BASSANI'S Tiketitan finishing first in the Wally Division. Italy's Viriella claimed first in the Cruising Division.
"Today's' race provided the high quality competition we expected,"
said Disney. "We went head to head against Genuine Risk and Alfa Romeo, especially on the first beat. As the race progressed, our boat's and the crew's performance enabled us to sustain the lead, in particular going downwind. We look forward to having another day like today."
Of note, Pyewacket held on to beat Genuine Risk on the water despite owing her time on handicap. In contrast to Pyewacket, which was launched last November, this was the first competitive outing for Pitman's yacht in Europe and more will be expected of her during the week ahead. With the possibility of a discard if five races are sailed there is a long way to go.
According to Bassani, the key to winning today's race was, "sailing smart and conservative, especially in light of the choppy seas during the first part of the race."
He added, "Yet, despite the seas, Tiketitan sails well in these kind of wind conditions, specifically on beats and reaches."
In the cruising class, Viriella an 118 ft. Frers took first place honours. "We had a good start and were able to cross the fleet,"
said skipper Mauro PELASCHIER, previously an Italian America's Cup skipper. "We made a smart sail selection for the downwind leg which enabled us to extend our lead."
Racing continues today, 7th September, with the start of race two scheduled for noon.