All four divisions started on time in 10-12 knots of westerly and a gentle sea-state. The course took the crews straight into 'Bomb Alley' at Capo Ferro and gave them a long beat up to the turning mark - the Island of Spargi, which the yachts rounded to starboard. From there it was a long run back to the finish off Porto Cervo. Gybe reaching all the way home in 20-22 knots, the fleet set a spectacular scene for the onlookers on the water and shore. There can be few better sights than following a maxi at full pelt downwind - if you can keep up.
In Racing Division, the expected head to head between Neville CRICHTON's (NZL) Alfa Romeo and Bob OATLEY's (AUS) Wild Oats let no one down. Stuck together for much of the race in a primeval match race with their carbon black sails glinting in the sunshine, first blood on the water went to the slightly lower rated Alfa, which finished 30 seconds ahead of her rival. The key moment came one minute before the start when Oats apparently suffered an engine failure and was unable to power up the hydraulics. Whilst the Oats' crew was occupied sorting out the problem, Alfa was free to choose their favoured end of the line and take the opportunity to grab a lead that she would not relinquish despite the best efforts of OATLEY's crew. The downwind duel between these two was something special and Murray SPENCE, the team manager on Alfa, happily described conditions, 'Good winds today. We're very happy that it started out with a nice breeze, [that was] pretty consistent. It freshened a little in the second half of the race, which probably favoured the little boats a bit but it was a good breeze to start off the regatta.'
Of the contest at the head of the fleet, SPENCE continued, 'We had a good tight tussle with Wild Oats today. They're our main competition and it was very close racing, so quite exciting especially coming back under the spinnaker.'
Overall victor on handicap in the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup Racing Division was Hasso PLATTNER's (GER) Morning Glory. She too put on a display of downwind prowess, completing the course in 2 hours 28 minutes, only 6 minutes behind her larger competitors. Tactician, Morgan LARSON (USA), reflected on an enjoyable day, 'It was a great coastal race. Tacking around the rocks and the islands was very challenging for the crew with a lot of sail changes. Everything went very well on board, with no particular difficulty. We very much enjoyed the race, the wind and the fabulous scenery of the Costa Smeralda. If the Mistral blows in tomorrow it's going to be a lot of fun.' thoroughly enjoyed her first ever day at the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup. Finishing fourth on handicap, Tom and Dotti HILL's (PUR) red flyer proved her maxi credentials with an all but immaculate race. HILL was certainly pleased with the decision to race here, 'We're all excited about being here. A couple of the crew have been here before, like Ben MITCHELL and Ben BEER, and they just rave about this place. They were right and today's race couldn't have been nicer - the temperature and the wind. I like these around the island races once in a while, instead of just windward/leeward, windward/leeward... It was pretty impressive. Win or lose we feel that we have had a good race. We had a real good beat and a relatively good run. Apart from a couple of little slow spots in the run, I would say that 85 - 90 % of the race we sailed really well and didn't get caught the wrong sides of any shifts.'
In the Cruising Division the J-Class scrap went the way of Ranger, ahead of Velsheda, on the water and on handicap. Vittorio Moretti's Viriella split the two elegant look-alikes on the water and lies third in the standings overnight. Elsewhere in this division, Gitana found herself over the line earlier and subsequently retired from the racing, whilst Arne Glimcher's Ghost was also forced to retire.
In the Wally Division, Jean Charles DECAUX's J One, the smallest yacht in the class, won the day on handicap., whilst in the clash of the Mini Maxis, Massimo VIOLATI's OPS 5 came out top today, whilst Carlo PURI NEGRI's Atalanta II, with America's Cup star Francesco DE ANGELIS (ITA) on board, lies in second in the standings.
Major FILIPPO PETRUZZI's forecast for 20-25 knots in the morning, with higher gusts in the Straits of Bonifacio and around the islands. In the early afternoon, there will be a gradual decrease to 15-18 knots with higher gusts possible before the wind rotates in the late afternoon to north/northeast and there will be possibility of very light winds during the rotation. The outlook is cloudier than today with possibility of isolated showers in the evening.