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11 September 2007, 10:11 am
Spoils To The Victors In Porto Cervo
Image of Morning Glory
Morning Glory in action

Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup 2007
Porto Cervo, Italy

The Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup 2007 ended in triumph for some and disappointment for others as the final day played out and racing came to a conclusion.
As is so often the way on the final day, the individual race winners were overshadowed by the overall regatta winners. No surprise really since only one boat in each of the four divisions is crowned champion, walking away with a Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup trophy and a Rolex Yacht-master timepiece. This year the overall winners were Carlo PURI NEGRI (ITA) and Atalanta II in Mini Maxi, Jean Charles DECAUX (MON) and J One in Wally, Ranger in Cruising and, after a extraordinary racing performance on the final day, Hasso PLATTNER (GER) and Morning Glory in the grand prix Racing Division.

The final day of racing on Saturday started uneventfully. A light northwesterly of 6-7 knots allowed the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda Race Committee to set a 30-nautical mile course that took the yachts to a windward mark, before they entered the channel between Sardinia and the Maddalena islands at the southern end of Caprera. A long beat up the channel led to the turning mark at Barettinelli di Fouri, where the yachts turned right and reached back along the outside of the islands to Golfo Pevero and the finish off Porto Cervo. By the end, it turned out more than eventful for some.

Race course winners were: Alfa Romeo in Racing, where the Neville CRICHTON's New Zealand super maxi put in another blistering performance, haring around the track in 2 hours 34 minutes, finishing some 20 minutes ahead of George DAVID's (USA) Rambler - both corrected out into the same positions. In the Wally Division, Y3K won on the water, whilst DECAUX's crew put in another exceptional performance on J One to win on handicap. Mini Maxi was won by All Smoke and Cruising saw Ranger end up in front.

The longer story of the day is not without controversy - depending upon your viewpoint. The Racing Division led the fleet away at 11:45. Alfa Romeo reached the windward mark first and headed off into the channel. Surprisingly, she was followed by Rambler, then Titan XII and then Favonius. At first it looked as though Morning Glory had encountered a problem. First she headed away from the mark. Then she executed a 360 turn as if to rectify a penalty, save there was no other yacht in proximity. Then just as she looked to be back up to speed and heading in the right direction, her headsail sheet was let off and she sailed lazily towards the channel in the wake of the remainder of the Racing Division. That is, all except Loki, with whom Glory was tied in the standings.

It was then only too apparent what the German super maxi intended to do, as Morgan LARSON (USA), the tactician, explained, 'We had two strategies today based upon the windspeed. We knew if the wind was in the upper range that we would have a great chance to beat the Loki in the race and if it was lighter they had a good chance to beat us. We did some work last night with the results and realized that their throwout was worse than ours so we just had to make sure that they had a bad race.' And that they did, stalking their opponent at the windward mark with a ruthlessness that suggested plainly that the Goliath in this contest was not to be denied by the David.

LARSON described how they reached the decision to quash the aspirations of the Australian crew, 'Halfway up to the first mark we decided it was light wind and those guys are so fast in the light and were doing such a great job, so we took the opportunity to slow them up.' And that they did too. Over the ensuing 4 hours (Alfa took 2 hours 30 minutes to complete the course), the two yachts were no more than a hair's breadth apart with the larger boat in complete control. To their credit, Stephen AINSWORTH's (AUS) crew did not give up. A conservative estimate would be that Loki sailed an extra 10 miles trying to find a chink in the Teutonic armour, which she almost did at the death when the wind fell so light that Loki had more speed than Glory. This display of sportsmanship in the face of a wholly one-sided match race earned the Aussies a standing ovation from the crew of Favonius as they arrived back into the dock.

For PLATTNER the overall victory is all the more sweet since 2007 marks the tenth anniversary of his last win at the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup.

Another yacht celebrating an anniversary with overall victory at the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup is J One. DECAUX was understandably delighted, 'It's great! It was the result of very good teamwork and I am pretty happy for the boat, since it is its tenth anniversary this year. It was great fun and we've been working hard for that so we are very pleased. It was great competition with the other 80s on the water. It was very tight because we have had some very tough competitors this year. We have had some very good days especially with the wind. This year has been perfect with flat water. It continues to be one of the best spots in the world to sail. For J One that is the great news!'

DECAUX laid the secret to success firmly at the door of the crew, 'We have a very good crew. We have been together for three years in a row. We have been building our teamwork together and it is very, very nice to win here. I am pleased that the whole crew has been rewarded for their job.'

In the Mini Maxis, the owner of Atalanta II -PURI NEGRI - was not going to allow something like an overall victory cloud his judgment about Saturday's performance, which he considered to be poor, 'We knew we had won already yesterday with a first place. Today we were less happy the way we sailed compared to the previous day races. It was a very shifty day, and we probably finished third place so we basically consider it as our throw-out.' But he recognized that Atalanta II had had a fine series scoring 2,1,2,1 after dropping Saturday's third, 'It was great racing with a lot of fun, maybe with less steady conditions than in the previous editions, but this is an amazing place, and we are very much happy. We won thanks to an excellent crew. We now look ahead for the next edition to come.'

In the Cruising Division Ranger won not only the battle of the J-Class finishing ahead of Velsheda, but she won Saturday's race and the division as a whole, posting four bullets and dropping a third from her scoreline to finish on four points; four ahead of Velsheda and six ahead of Arne GLIMCHER's Ghost. For John WILLIAMS the owner of Ranger it was a dream come true. Until now he and the boat had won a number of match races, but never an event overall, 'This is the first time we've walked away with the big prize, which feels good. We launched the boat four years ago and it has taken us a long time to tweak it up as you know. This boat was originally a 1936 design and raced in the America's Cup in 1937. We took that design and recreated it, and we were in virgin territory. Nobody had built a J boat in 70 years so it took a little while to get is where it was actually working properly so we're pleased.' Why had he taken on such a project? 'Well, I love the water, I love sailing, I love to put together a team that worked as perfectly as ours did and the truth is that this is the epitome of teamwork. We had some 35 guys and ladies out there on the boat working very, very hard endlessly to make sure we were successful,' explained Williams. As for the key to the win, 'There's an old saying 'never say never'. Whenever we were behind Erle [WILLIAMS] and the rest of the team just stayed at it.' And that is probably true of all the winners at this year's event.

Jill Campbell (As Amended By ISAF)
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