As it turned out, Memo Memulini won not just her division, IMS 500, but the combined IMS division too. Asked what was the secret to their success, Fabini said: 'There is no secret, just hard work. All the crew worked very hard, and very well together. We did a lot of racing in Europe last year. We sailed at the Rolex IMS World Championships in Capri, and at the King's Cup in Spain, so the crew are well trained.' The crew has a good record in this regatta, having won it in 2003 with the previous Memo Memulini, an IMX-40. The biggest of the 69-boat fleet, the brand new Frers 60-footer Fortuna III, did not fare so well under handicap but had the honour of setting a new course record in the long distance race from Buenos Aires to Punta del Este earlier in the week. For skipper Cesar RECALDE it was achievement enough to have competed in the regatta. 'We have been working hard to get ready for this race. The biggest challenge was just to be ready for the start.' Fortuna III is the latest in a line of boats built for the Argentinean Navy. Funded by sponsorship from a number of different commercial backers, it is the first fully carbon racing yacht to have been constructed in Argentina. The beginning of this regatta was a nervous moment for the crew, as they set off out of Buenos Aires into a stormy forecast. 'It was the first time the boat had gone to sea, so we didn't know what to expect,' said Recalde. 'But the boat dealt with the shallow waters in River Plate very well.' As it turned out, the stormy forecast never materialised. For Fortuna III it was a light-wind 180 miles from the Argentine capital to the Uruguayan port. 'The trouble for us was we were always in the lead, but we only ever had 10 to 12 knots of wind, whereas the boats behind us were always in 18 to 20 knots of downwind breeze. There was nothing we could do about it, we just had to laugh.' Still, to break the course record in a time of 18 hours and 59 minutes was an excellent performance for a brand new boat.
Among the crew was Carlos ESPINOLA, a relative newcomer to the rigours of offshore racing but well known as Argentina's most successful Olympic athlete, with two silver medals from windsurfing and a bronze from catamaran racing in Athens last summer. Recalde was full of praise for Espinola. 'He can anticipate gusts in the wind like no one I've seen. He was very enthusiastic and energetic in everything he did. If he wanted to go professional in the offshore world, he would succeed. He has great potential.'
Espinola said he had certainly developed a taste for offshore sailing, and is considering competing in the Buenos Aires to Rio race in a few weeks. 'I enjoyed the long distance race to Punta del Este. It was good weather, the boat was great, and it was nice to sail with my friends. I hope to be back with Fortuna III.'
Normally it takes a new boat to succeed at the top level of yacht racing, but the crew of the 20-year-old Yunque defied that theory to win the IMS ORC division. Tactician Enrique RODRIGUEZ said the predominantly light winds did them a favour. 'The races were in light wind and we could sail fast in those conditions. We were third in our class and fourth in the general classification on the long race, but we made up the difference in the local races. We have raced many times from Buenos Aires to Punta del Este, so we have some knowledge about the waters here. The most important factor was not boatspeed but good strategy. Because the wind was light, it was very important to be in the right place at the right time.'
Other winners included Patagonia 3 skippered by Norberto ALVAREZ, who won the 670 division, and Nuria skippered by Sergio SCHUJMAN, who won PHRF. The Circuito Atlantico Sur Rolex Cup offers a testing variety of both offshore and inshore handicap racing. The regatta began with the 180-mile offshore race from Olivos / Buenos Aires to Punta del Este; this was followed in Punta del Este by two days of inshore windward/leeward racing, a day race around Isla Gorriti, and the Circuito la Barra on the final day.