Organised by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda the thirty four-boat fleet was sent on the longest course available to the race committee, and in the fresh conditions quick work was made of the 40-mile distance.
Divided into three groups on the water, the fresh 20-25 knot North Westerly winds gave exciting conditions for this most impressive fleet of boats. The first start saw the IMS and IRC race machines line up in the one metre swell and head off upwind to be followed just 10 minutes later by the eleven boats of the Wally Class. Small class sizes shouldn't be underestimated as the sheer volume and scale of the boats present never ceases to be remarkable, even to the crews on board.
The first two groups were sent on the same course which meant a 20 mile upwind leg through the inside passage of the Maddalena Archipelago, one of the most spectacular race courses anywhere in the world. As the fleet of Maxi yachts short-tacked upwind through the narrow gaps between Palau, Santo Stefano and Spargi Islands, navigators on board were wary of the hazards along the rocky coastlines and the traps that are easy to fall into. With a wind driven current running against the fleet, the shores were the favoured place to be and with the harsh gusts of wind blowing straight over the hilly islands, sail trimmers and helmsman had to be on their guard.
Marking the southern most tip of Corsica is a rocky outcrop called Lavezzi, and the navigation buoy positioned over the top became the half way point and the turn for home. Neville CRICHTON'S Alfa Romeo rounded first, two minutes short of two hours after the start and set a running spinnaker at the same time as emptying her water ballast tanks. Ten minutes later the grey-hulled boat from New Zealand was just a speck on the horizon as the rest of the fleet made they way to the turn. The route back to the finish was outside the islands in rougher water and crews enjoyed some good surfing conditions. Much of the fleet had boat-handling problems and several spinnakers were destroyed. What had taken the leader two hours upwind took one hour downwind and the 40 mile course took just three hours to complete
The last group to start was the combined classes of Spirit of Tradition and the Jongert Class. They were given a shorter course and didn't have to sail all the way to Corsica. George LINDEMANN'S 44-metre long Adela revelled in the conditions to take an easy victory in a class that saw two thirds of the boats retire, one with a broken mast.
Full results are available on the event website at the address below.