The Mini Maxi Rolex World Championship is living up to its pre-event billing as the tightest and most competitive in its five-year history. Heading into the critical coastal race, just two points separated the leading three teams.
Mini Maxi Racing
Consistency, sound decision-making and taking only calculated risks are credited as the determining factors in such a tight championship. Andres Soriano's Alegre, three-time runner-up, is proving the most reliable performer. "It's going to be a very competitive week. One mistake and that's that," promised Soriano ahead of the competition. Alegre assumed impressive control of the 25-nm long coastal race after rounding the first mark well ahead of her rivals. Her lead remained unthreatened for the remainder of the race, which took yachts south to Mortoriotto, back up the coast into the Maddalena Archipelago and a brief glimpse of Bomb Alley, before turning north to Monaci and the run home.
Robertissima III, the Italian-crewed boat (and former Rán 2, last year's winning yacht), has enjoyed a terrific week and today claimed second place. She trails Alegre by three points ahead of tomorrow's two scheduled windward/leeward races, and Alegre's crew know from bitter experience that such a margin is vulnerable. "We've been playing averages. It would have been nice to have put more points between ourselves and Robertissima ahead of the final day, but these two boats now have a jump on the fleet," said Alegre's Olly Cameron. "We can't let them [Robertissima] get away. We need to be cautious [tomorrow] and keep it close."
The learning curve for Robertissima owner Roberto Tomasini Grinover and his crew has been steep but one they are mounting at impressive velocity. "We are an inexperienced team in this class. Less than a year ago, we were here looking at the 72-ft boats and said how wonderful they were," explains tactician Vasco Vascotto. "It's a dream to be part of this class - it is not only about great boats but top class teams. We want to be very competitive."
Niklas Zennström's Rán crew started the week as the defending champion and have experience in making dramatic comebacks in Porto Cervo, but today's sixth place on his new Rán 5 has all but ended the crew's chances of a fourth title in five years. A new champion is all but guaranteed after 2012 victor Bella Mente also struggled in the coastal race, leaving Hap Fauth's crew in fourth.
The only certainty in the J-Class is that a new champion will be crowned. Velsheda has failed to finish higher than third all week, leaving a three-way battle between Rainbow, Lionheart and Ranger for the title. The week's largest boat, the 43.7m Lionheart holds a slender one-point advantage over Rainbow, three-time winner Ranger is a further point adrift.
Engaging competition and a dramatic final day is also offered by the Wally class. Four-time winner, Claus-Peter Offen and Y3K are tied on points with defending champion Jean-Charles Decaux and his J One crew. And one point behind lies Magic Carpet 3. Y3K performed better of the three teams today, finishing in third while J One claimed fourth and Owen-Jones's Magic Carpet 3 had to settle for sixth.
"The Wally class is very strong," explains Offen, President of the International Maxi Association, "with the two Wally Centos (Magic Carpet 3 and Open Season) and many other well-sailed yachts, it will not be easy for Y3K to win the Wally title back, but we are working on it."
Supermaxis, Maxis & Dual-purpose Mini Maxis
Elsewhere, bullets have handed Firefly (Supermaxi), Lupa of London (Mini Maxi Racing/Cruising) and Highland Fling (Maxi) insurmountable leads in their respective classes.
Racing ends tomorrow. Up to two windward/leeward races are scheduled for the Mini Maxi Rolex Worlds fleet, the J-Class and Wally, while the remaining classes will sail a coastal course.
2014 MAXI YACHT ROLEX CUP - PROVISIONAL RESULTS DAY 4
Place, Boat Name, Boat Owner, Races; Total Points
Mini Maxi Rolex World Championship
1. Alegre (GBR), Alegre Yachting Ltd., 1.5-1-3-4-(5)-1.5; 11
2. Robertissima (CAY), Roberto Tomasini, 6-2-1-(5)-2-3; 14
3. Rán 5 (GBR), Niklas Zennstrom 4.5-3-2-2-(7)-9; 20.5
Mini Maxi R/C
1. Lupa of London (GBR), Jeremy Pilkington, 1-1-2-1; 5
2. Bronenosec (RUS), Alpenberg S.A., 4-2-1-2; 9
3. Arobas (FRA), Gerard Logel, 2-4-3-3; 12
1. Highland Fling XI (MON), Irvine Laidlaw, 1-1-1-1; 4
2. Odin (CAY), Tom Siebel, 2-2-2-2; 8
3. Bristolian (GBR), Bristolian Marine Ltd., 4-4-3-3; 14
1. Lionheart (GBR), Stichting Lionheart Syndicate, (4)-1-2-2-1; 6
2. Rainbow (NED), SPF JH2, 2-3-1-1-(4); 7?
3. Ranger (CAY), R.S.V. Ltd., 1-2-(4)-3-2; 8
1. Firefly (NED), Eric Bijlsma, 1-1-2-1; 5
2. Inoui (SUI), Marco Vögele, 2-2-1-2; 7
3. Viriella (ITA), Vittorio Moretti, 3-3-3-3; 12
1. Y3K (GER), Claus Peter Offen, (3)-2-1-3-2; 8
2. J One (GBR), Jean Charles Decaux, 1-(3)-2-2-3; 8
3. Magic Carpet 3 (GBR), Sir Lindsey Owen Jones, 2-1-(5)-1-5; 9
Complete results may be found here