Faced yesterday morning with prevailing light easterlies rather than the more typical north north westerly, the Race Committee added an additional course to the existing selection notified in the Sailing Instructions. This decision paid dividends, resulting in a challenging course with plenty of tactical options.
With a maximum of three races to go before the end of the championship, organized by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda, the home team from Sardegna has extended Wednesday's lead to a margin of six points, its big boat finishing fourth, whilst the smaller yachts both took seconds. Team Germany lies in second, followed by Team Monaco.
After a clean start, in an easterly breeze of eight to ten knots and choppy seas, the fleet headed off to an upwind mark before gybe reaching downwind towards a mark placed in the protected waters of Golfo Saline. Team Monaco initially led the fleet, but by the time the TP52s reached the Golfo Saline in a tight group, Team Germany's Pinta held a slender lead over Team Sardegna's Santa Ana. The Swan 45 division was headed by Team USA with Atlantica Racing, while Team Monaco's Farr 40, Joe Fly, owned and helmed by Giovanni MASPERO stretched way ahead of its rivals, sailing within the leading pack of the Swan 45s.
The competitors then sailed upwind to Secca dei Monaci, then downwind to Secca Tre Monti and back to the Monaci rocks, practically on a windward-leeward course. For the final long leg, the fleet headed southeast on a tight spinnaker reach towards a mark positioned in the Golfo Pevero and a short hop to the finish line opposite Porto Cervo. Wind strength varied throughout the day from force two to three.
was able to keep her rivals at bay taking a fourth victory of the championship. Tactician John KOSTECKI, Olympic medallist, Volvo Ocean Race winner and America's Cup veteran, commented on how they had to fight throughout the race to stay in the lead, 'It was a tough day out on the water with very light wind. We had a good first leg and we were able to pass Team Monaco when they broke their spinnaker. Then we were able to hold the lead all the way throughout the race, but it was tough, the other teams kept coming back at us and getting close. We were always fighting, all the way to the finish.'
Pinta's owner ILLBRUCK feels that the team is right on track with their programme, however there is still room to improve, 'This is our second regatta and every minute and every hour we are learning, especially myself at the helm. It's very difficult, the fleet is very competitive. From the outside today it seemed as though the boat was securely in front, but in reality the race was very tight.' Unfortunately, for Pinta her team mates Opus One and Struntje Light did not fare so well, both finishing fifth in their respective fleets.
Due to the light wind, the Swan 45 and Farr 40 fleets took an extra hour to complete yesterday's course. Atlantica Racing from Team USA secured its first win among the Swan 45s, while Team Monaco's Joe Fly came first in the Farr 40s.
Italian Lorenzo BODINI, tactician on Atlantica Racing, was thrilled with his crew's victory, 'We sailed a great race. The conditions were very difficult, especially for the Swan 45s which are relatively heavy boats, as the wind was light and the waves were quite big. We had a great start and were able to free ourselves from the bigger boats which always have great influence on our progress. We rounded the upwind mark in front and then played well each wind shift, gradually stretching our lead. We sailed conservatively, controlling our rivals and this paid well for us.'
Joe Flysailed a brilliant race, with an aggressive start and wise tactical decisions that enabled the Farr 40 to sail with the leading Swan 45s throughout the race. Gabrielle BENUSSI, tactician on Joe Fly, echoed BODINI's comments, 'Today we sailed in very challenging conditions, as the waves were bigger than the wind. It was especially difficult for the helmsmen to keep focus for such a long time. Our owner/helmsman Giovanni MASPERO did an amazing job, together with the crew. We had a good start and chose the left, which was the favoured side. We were well in the lead at the upwind mark and were able to keep a close control on the rest of the fleet.'
In Team USA, the TP52 Wokita.Com features an all Seattle based crew, save for a lone Spaniard. Wokita.Com is skippered by John BUCHAN who hails from a legendary family of sailors. His father, Bill, was a three-time Star World Champion and gold medallist in the 1984 Olympic Games, Bill won the gold in the Star, while other son Carl won gold in the Flying Dutchman. Of his debut in the Sardinia Rolex Cup, BUCHAN (currently building a new TP52 in the USA) feels that they are on a steep learning curve, 'We are on a borrowed boat, so it's kind of hard.'
All things considered he feels they are doing quite well. Regarding the unusual light air conditions that so far have been a feature of this Sardinia Rolex Cup, BUCHAN commented, 'Porto Cervo is such a beautiful place and we are really enjoying the light conditions. We are from Seattle, and for most of the season we have light air. So far it's been pretty shifty and we are trying to mix up with the rest of the fleet.'
Defending champion Team Spain lies in fifth position and today the TP52 Bribon Movistar suffered some gear failure that compromised its results. Pepe RIBES, bowman on board Bribon Movistar, summed up a difficult day on the water, 'We paid a high price for the breakages, at least eight boat lengths that would have been decisive for us. We broke the lock of the Code Zero and a sheet. But this is top level racing and it's all part of the game.'
Team Alpe Adria
At the time of writing three protests are pending.
Racing resumes today with more windward-leeward courses. The weather pattern will be very similar to yesterday, with an easterly/north easterly breeze that will gradually lighten during the day.is now racing with only one boat, as the Farr 40 La Marachella - who had been disqualified from the first three races for fielding an ineligible helmsman - was not able to secure an approved helm for the remainder of the championship.