It may have been the final day of racing at the Loro Piana Caribbean Superyacht Regatta & Rendezvous, but there was a palpable sense of expectation on the dock.
Not only were owners of the 20 sailing superyachts, their guests and crews looking forward to another classic day on the water, but also there was all to play for with the victory up for grabs in all classes.
With a breeze of 10 to 12 knots, the race committee chose a long course clockwise around Virgin Gorda and outside all the Dog Islands, with the Division B yachts rounding inside Ginger Island and the Division A yachts heading outside Ginger. With most of the yachts heading left up the first beat, the first real test was at the northeast corner of Virgin Gorda. Here the kites were hoisted and the yachts were set for an epic gybing battle all along the south side of the island.
By the time the Division B yachts reached Round Rock, 62m Athos was out in front with the 23.5m Wild Horses just three minutes behind. The 25.2m Sejaa was also having a good day, rounding third.
Meanwhile, the Division A yachts were fighting tooth and nail. By the time they got to the western end of Ginger Island, it was Indio that had made the best progress on the run, dropping her kite and hardening up for the reach to the Dogs a minute ahead of Salperton and Cape Arrow, who were separated by just 10 seconds. Hanuman, P2 and Rebecca were not far behind.
From the Dogs it was a final beat to the finish, and it was Indio who took the final line honours. But with so many close finishes there were some tense moments as the yachts headed back to the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda marina while the race committee crunched the numbers to see who the victors would be.
When all was said and done, it was the 45m Fitzroy Salperton that took the lion's share of the glory, nailing a bullet in the last race on corrected to secure the win in Division A overall, Division A's cruising division, and the Boat International Media Trophy. In Division B, a strong third race - and a second bullet - meant that the classic 22.4m ketch Bolero took the series.
"We did well today,"
said Ian Walker, double Olympic silver medallist and tactician aboard Salperton. "We were one of the most offshore yachts on the run and I think we had a bit more wind. It was a good course today - the first day was a reaching course, which was good for us, and the second day was a bit light. Today was a good mix. We just had to sail as clean as we could and we had great crew work. You could argue that it was yesterday that won it for us with a sixth place - it was all about keeping in touch."
Ed and Marty Kane, owners of 63 year old Bolero - the oldest and smallest boat in the fleet at 22.4m - won Division B by scoring bullets in the final two days of racing after starting with a fourth. Bolero was designed by Sparkman & Stephens and built at Harry Nevins boatyard in New York. "We had a great event,"
they said. "The sailing was terrific and the wind was good, even on the longer course!"
Commodore Riccardo Bonadeo of YCCS was understandably pleased, "It was amazing to see this fleet sailing together on the waters of the British Virgin Islands. The owners should be really proud of how they raced these huge superyachts . Feedback from the the owners and crews and from the sponsor Loro Piana has been excellent and we can expect to see an even more impressive fleet gathered at YCCS Marina this time next year."