The Mistral-driven gales in the Mediterranean, which gave many yachts a rough time on their way to Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup in Porto Cervo, are due to give way to more gentle breezes for the first race off the northern coast of Sardinia today.
Only the last two of the expected 26 yachts were still due to arrive late tonight. The rest have made it safely to the September serenity of the Costa Smeralda resort and the majority of them were putting in some final practice today. There was still enough wind to kick up a herd of white horses on the waves just outside the protection of the harbour and that ensured that they were given a thorough final workout before the committee boat guns signal the start of hostilities tomorrow.
They face a programme of five races, usually of about three hours' duration, and the first is likely to be a highly tactical affair as the forecast is for about 5 to 10 knots of north-westerly going westerly. That should last for a couple of days and then the wind may strengthen again.
At stake are some beautiful trophies and the ultimate prize of a Rolex Chronometer for the overall winners.
There will be three divisions. The 'heavyweights' vary from the beautiful Pasquale Natuzzi's Antonisa, with Olympic bronze medallist Jo Richards calling tactics, to Carlo Perrone's silver rapier, Virtuelle, where Olympic gold medallist and America's Cup helmsman Thierry Peponnet will be providing additional thrust.
The IMS division sees Jim Dolan's Sagamore try to keep up its US East Coast winning ways against Raffaele Raiola's new Idea, but the cut and thrust will be at its most evident in the class especially for Wally yachts.
Not least between Luca Bassani's brand new and strikingly bronze Tiketitoo and Claudio Luti's Tuamata. On Tuamata will be Luca's brother Tony and the rivalry is strong, though they sailed together when Luca won the European 6-Metre Championship in nearby Porto Rotondo.