The wind and sea gods conspired in a positive way today to deliver perfect 17-18 knot west-northwesterly conditions for the start of the traditional Islands Long Race at the Rolex Swan Cup off Porto Cervo.
All classes in the close to 100-boat fleet of Swans sailed the 'distance' race today, including the one-design Swan 45s and ClubSwan 42s.
The big boats in Maxi Class A went off on a 63-nautical mile excursion that only a maxi could love: from the start off Porto Cervo, upwind to round Isle di Monaci to port, a reach down to Secca di Tre Monti, up around the corner of Maddalena, a reach up and around Barrettinelli di Fuori to port, reach back around Spargi to starboard, across to a mark south of Lavezzi to starboard than a long downwind ride out around the 'back' of La Maddalena archipelago down to round Mortoriotto, and up to the finish line in the Golfo Pevero.
Grand Prix Class B, Swan 45s and ClubSwan 42s classes were all sent on a shorter 47-nautical mile version of the Maxis route save for the leg up and back to Barrettinelli. The Sparkman & Stephens Class C (Classics) sailed a 36-nautical mile course around Monaci, down and around Secca di Tre Monti, up the channel out and around Barrettinelli, and downwind to the finish in Golfo Pevero. For the Swan 45s and ClubSwan 42s, the Islands Long Race is weighted at 1.5 points.
By 13:30 (local time), the Maxi frontrunners - White Lie, Fantasticaaaniene, DSK Pioneer Investments
- were rounding Barrettinelli for the first time, and the breeze up through the islands had built to 22-25 knots to speed the maxis along, and by 15:00 these same boats were around Lavezzi and heading downwind and hoping for a fast ride home.
At 14:30, the Swan 56 Vanish 2 was leading the Grand Prix Class B; in the Sparkman & Stephens Class C (Classics) it was the Swan65 Monsoon Jaguar
ahead; Kora 4
led the ClubSwan 42s.
The Swan 90 White Lie
was leading the fleet downwind in the building breeze when they damaged their boom in a gybe. They were able to keep sailing, but at Motoriotto, DSK
got by them to take the lead on the water. DSK
might have had a chance on handicap as well, until the breeze shifted 180 degrees, allowing the boats behind to compress and make big gains. Still DSK
leads Maxi Class A overall and owner Danilo Salsi clearly enjoyed their day, "It was the best race of the week, around the islands up to Lavezzi, down to Mortoriotto, so you can see all the islands of this area. The winds were strong - we had 25 knots in the straits.
"We did not have a good start; we had to go back to the start line, and start again, but now with all the big boats in front of us. At the first mark we were seventh, so we had to pass all the big boats. We only passed White Lie down by Mortoriotto. Down there it was a complete change in the programme because the scirocco from the south came up against the mistral. Because we were the first of the fleet, we stayed a long time changing from the spinnaker to the jib - it was a lot of work for the crew, so we are going to have a good dinner tonight!
Third over the line, the Swan 80 Astro del Este
won the Maxi Class A on corrected time. Tactician Rob McMillan said, "The conditions were fantastic, we saw basically zero up to 30 knots, but for the first three-quarters or seven-eighths of the race it was just beautiful sailing, flat water, big breeze, and it got up to about 30 knots, we were able to carry our spinnaker all the way around. Think we saw 19+ knots of boat speed, so pretty fantastic. Crew work was a difference-maker for us, because down at the bottom mark the wind changed from strong west-northwest to southerly, so spinnaker up, spinnaker down, jib up, jib down… the crew work was really terrific
Alvise Zanetti on his Swan 56 Vanish II
, was first over the line for the Grand Prix Class B fleet. Zanetti said, "It was a very nice race, it was our conditions, a lot of tacking upwind. We had 27 knots of wind. But, it was a very stressful race, we broke two sheets."
While first over the line, Zanetti didn't save their time on handicap: "The boat has a high rating due to the carbon mast and deep keel, so we have some advantages in speed but only upwind, so it's very hard to make up the rating difference
." Silveren Swaen (NED) leads Grand Prix Class B overall after three races.
Peter Houting is the skipper/owner of the Swan 65 Peak
(NED), one of four of the sturdy 65s in the S&S Class C. Peak
bought the boat in 2003 and keeps it in Scarlino, Italy which provides great access for cruising with his family to Sardinia and around the Med, and the occasional races with friends, such as at the Rolex Giraglia Cup and the last Rolex Swan Cup.
Racing the 65-footer with only nine crew was a challenge, Houting said, "We tried to keep things easy and not break anything, we're only nine on the boat and have to be sure she goes around safely. We had over 30 knots in the channel, where it funnels. We had one reef in the main, the heavy genoa, and mizzen, and it was okay today, we have very good sails. Monsoon widened the gap when they put up a spinnaker and they really did a good job doing that, we weren't able to (with limited crew). But we had a good time, no damage and we have Dutch beer now!
" Monsoon Jaguar
leads the S&S Class C overall after three races.
Swan 45 World Championship
The nine-boat Swan 45 fleet - sailing their World Championship here - were closely grouped up to the top of the course, with Earlybird
rounding Lavezzi first.
(ITA), Swan 45 Class President Vittorio Codecasa said, "We had a very difficult race, we were fighting all the time with Earlybird, I think it was one of the best races in the last few years I did because the conditions were perfect and we had three boats (Jeroboam, Earlybird, Ulika) racing together with two boat lengths all the time. Unfortunately, the wind shift at Mortoriotto made big changes. We were first rounding the island, but came 4th at the finish line"
But it was Tea Ekengren's Swan 45 Blue Nights
(FIN) that won for the day. Ekengren said, "We had a great day, very exciting. We had some problems with the speed, but improving along the way and finally we won the race. Half a mile before the end where everyone was stuck, our tactician, Jochen Schuemann put us in a perfect place, right were the wind started to come in. Actually we were expecting this shift as it happened the same yesterday and at the end we caught 6 boats, coming in first
." Hendrik Brandis' Earlybird
(GER) leads the Swan 45 class overall after six races.
In the ClubSwan 42 class, Leonardo Ferragamo's Cuor de Leone
(ITA) that finished first in front of Enrico Scerni's Kora 4
(ITA), but it is Scerni's boat that leads the class after five races.
On Friday, it is racing for the Swan 45 only, while the rest of the fleet enjoys a layday. Racing for all classes continues on Saturday which is also the final day for Swan 45s with the rest of the fleet also racing on Sunday.
For more information about the Rolex Swan Cup 2010, including the entry list and results please visit - www.yccs.it