The IMS 50-footer Cam won the opening race in the big boat division of the Rolex IMS Offshore World Championship in Valencia on Tuesday afternoon.
Skipper Fernando Leon and his professional Spanish crew took a commanding lead on the water ahead of one of the biggest gatherings of 50-footers that has been seen in a long time. After corrected time had been calculated under IMS rating, his lead translated into a victory by 32 seconds ahead of Pasquale Landolfi's Brava Q8.
Cam boasts one of the strongest afterguards in a fleet that is chock full of Olympic, America's Cup and round-the-world stars. Leon, who won Olympic gold in the Tornado in 1996, is racing with Kiko Sanchez who won a 470 gold medal at the Barcelona Games in 1992.
After hoping to build a 50-footer to his own design, lack of time forced Leon to buy Esmeralda, which was a proven performer on the American circuit last year. Whilst he might have had his doubts then, he has since steered the Farr design to two successive regatta victories already this year. Now the green and gold liveried Cam looks set for further success this week, although it would be unwise to predict victory on the basis of one result.
In a world where boats built more than a year ago are considered 'old', Landolfi will be delighted with the second place of his three-year-old Brava Q8. With one of the most international tactical teams in the fleet, including the British professional Eddie Warden-Owen and Kiwi supernavigator Andrew Cape, he has given his 'old' warhorse the best chance of success this week. But he will be thankful that the early sea breeze failed to build much beyond 8 knots today, as Brava's favourite conditions are at the lower end of the wind range.
While the other 15 IMX-40s have opted to compete in Class B with the smaller boats, America's Cup helmsman Pedro Campos has elected to race his IMX-40 Telefonica Movistar with the big boys. Most sailors would think that living in the dirty air of the larger boats would be a problem, but Campos's gamble certainly paid off in the first race, with his boat finishing in third place just 8 seconds behind Brava Q8 on corrected time.