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5 September 2001, 11:51 am
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Maxi Frers photo:Borlenghi/ Kos/Strategic

The Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup
Porto Cervo, Sardinia

A fast and furious 25-mile dash through the rocky islands just off Porto Cervo saw the 25 contestants in the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup at full stretch yesterday.
With nearly 20 knots of west -north-westerly at the start and piping up to 25 knots as the race progressed, these powerful machines ate up the miles and were back on their berths by mid-afternooon.

Battle was rejoined by the two 88-foot Wallys, Luca Bassani again trying to outpace in Tiketitoo his former yacht, Tiketitan, now campaigned by former German racing car driver Thomas Bscher with Adam Bateman of Britain as his racing skipper.

They were close all the way round, but another fine start by Tiketitan gave her an early edge which she never gave up and, for the second day running, she was first of the pair across the finish line. Neither could save their handicap, however, and it was the turn of Mattia Medici's optimistically named Askherout to take the top prize for the day.

The more stately entrants such as the 180-foot Adela and the 140-foot Antonisa were also enjoying a romp in the sort of breeze which is meat and drink to these spectacular members of the 'Heavy' division. Even going upwind, Adela was tramping along at a steady 12.4 knots and power reaching was cutting a mighty swathe through the blue and turquoise waves. But it was not enough to stop Harry Macklowe's 122' foot Unfurled winning on handicap.

Working hard to outwit the opposition, Jim Dolan's American crew on the IMS maxi Sagamore made a cunning move between two islands to move up from third to first in class for a while. But, despite spinnaker reaching at over 15 knots, she was again overhauled by the longer and more modern Idea, racing under the Italian flag for Raffaele Raiola.

But even he could not stop PierLuigi Loro Piana's My Song pipping him by two minutes on handicap. And Carlo Perrone's Virtuelle, with Olympic gold medallist Thierry Peponnet on the helm, notched up her second successive win in the division for cruisers under 30 metres. Some cruiser!

But Sagamore was in the bad books of Riccardo Bonadeo's Rrose Selavy, with America's Cup skipper Mauro Pelaschier on the helm. The Italians lodged a formal protest over a right of way dispute in the pre-start manoeuvering. One of the most senior authorities on such matters, Sweden's Goran Petersson with four other international jurors to adjudicate.

Other than that, Pelaschier was beaming from ear to ear about a race which allowed the maxis to perform to their full potential. "It was a beautiful sail," he said.

Even though, just to catch them all out, the power was suddenly turned off as the yachts approached the final turning mark in the quiet cove of Piccolo Pevero, just to the south-east of the entrance to the harbour of Porto Cervo. "It was like running into a bath full of blancmange," said one crew member. "There were yachts 100 metres apart, heading in the same direction, and one could be under spinnaker while the other was hard on the wind."

Under the hill which overlooks the finishing line they all had to readjust both their tactical thinking and the combination of sails to power them home as the north-westerly in which they had raced all day met the south-easterly which blows up from Olbia.

With the Mistral-influenced wind expected to build to over 30 knots overnight, the race committee was keeping all options open for the third race tomorrow.

Mini Profile: Luca Bassani founder of Wally Yachts

To have your own multi-million dollar yacht at the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup is a privilege given only to the few. To be surrounded by a whole family of similar boats as a result of turning a dream into reality is given to only one man, Luca Bassani.

If there had been no others, the bronze hull, mast and boom, the mirror coach work, and the clean lines would all have said: "Here is something different." The yacht, Tiketitoo, catches the eye just bobbing on its mooring. It would also catch the eye if it were either an exhibit in the Tate Modern in London or a whole style of building, like the Guggenheim in Bilbao.

Each would often reveal hidden technology and this yacht is no different. There is a vast array of electronics and hydraulics to control the winches and sails. And under the yacht there is more than just the conventional keel and rudder.

The keel swings from side to side and acts just to improve the righting moment. The rudder is only just big enough to steer the boat. There are then four asymmetrical canard dagger boards to give hydrodynamic lift, one forward, one aft on each side. The whole concept is based on aviation research and it just tickles Luca Bassani pink.

He has been sailing since the age of 12, when he went cruising with his father, and raced hard for many years, especially in offshore boats from 7m up to maxis. Then he found racing yachts too uncomfortable and stripped out, cruising yachts too slow and boring.

So he ignored all the rules and commissioned Luca Brenta & Co. to help him give birth to a whole new style of yachting. The company's motto is fast and easy. Its achievement is also fast and stylish. The thought that he might, along the way, have produced what some see as works of art "makes me very proud," he says. "I get very excited about new technology and innovation and I am excited by beauty. If I see a beautiful view I want to build a house to match it."

And how does he reconcile the search for the serenity of fast and easy cruising with the aggression associated with racing? "Never take it too seriously, always try to be a bit too young," he explains.

Quote of the day:
"It won't go any faster, however hard you push the button." Luca Bassani to tactician Tom Whidden as he tries to negotiate the keyboard of electronic controls for the sails on Tiketitoo.

Provisional results, top three in each class:



1. My Song/Pigi Loro Piana/02:37:38/1.0
2. Idea/Raffaele Raiola/02:39:37/2.0
3. Rrose Selavy/Riccardo Bonadeo/Frers 73/02:39:47/3.0


1. Unfurled/Harry Macklowe/Frers 112'/03:00:04/3.0
2. Antonisa/Natuzzi Pasquale/124'sloop/03:01:20
3. Adela/George Lindeman/Schooner 180'/03:04:44/1.0


1. Virtuelle/Carlo Perrone/Proto C/R/02:48:32/1.0
2. Y2K/Claus-Peter Offen/Swan68/02:54:09
3. Only Lu/Ettore Gnutti/Brenta 65/02:54:18/2.0


1. Askherout/Mattia Medici/Wally 77/02:40:53/1.0
2. Vae Victus/Alessandro Grande/Wally 77/02:42:13
3. Magic Carpet/Lindsay Owen Jones/Wally 77/02:42:24

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