Porto Cervo, Italy – The Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup is undoubtedly the most iconic trophy for the large sailing yachts. Every year at the beginning of September, a large fleet of boats over 18 meters gathers in the beautiful Costa Smeralda waters for a week of high competition and glamourous social events. The 2018 marks the 29th edition of the event, held from 2 to 8 September, sponsored by Rolex and run by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda in conjunction with the International Maxi Association.
Three-time Olympic gold medallist, twice America’s Cup winner, former World Sailor of the Year and tactician on the perennially successful Magic Carpet Cubed, Jochen Schümann is perfectly positioned to express an opinion on what makes the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup hold such an elevated status: “The Sardinian waters are beautiful to sail on. From the colours to the coastline, they are the most scenic one can imagine. At this time of the year the temperature is also great, we sail in shorts and shirts, and it all happens with 10 and 25 knots of wind. So, beautiful sailing days in the best possible conditions.”
The six-yacht Wally fleet included the Wallycento trio Galateia –the defending champion-, Magic Carpet Cubed and Tango. According to Tom Whidden, President and CEO of North Technology Group and strategist on Magic Carpet Cubed, the three Wallycentos: “are even and very well sailed - probably as good as you get. They have all made little tweaks and changes and the championship is anyone’s game. We have some new things for this regatta, so it will be pretty exciting.”
The 94-foot Magic blue and the two 80-footers J one and Lyra completed the division.
The Wally Class welcomed a newbie, the owner of Lyra, who was at his first regatta ever.
Seven races were successfully completed over six days: three coastal courses and four windward/leewards.
The first day, with westerly winds gusting into the mid-teens, brilliant sunshine and a coastal race taking the competitors on a clockwise lap of La Maddalena archipelago, the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup got off to the best start possible. Magic Carpet Cubed did a superb job on the first beat to Monaci causing her to lead Galateia and Tango around the race course. The dark blue Wallycento ultimately won, after J One was disqualified following a protest.
In the second day, racing was abandoned for the lack of wind, after several attemps made by the race committee.
In day three the Wally class sailed two windward-leewards. Impressively - for the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup is not just his first regatta on his new boat, but his first regatta ever – the new owner of Lyra, who acquired the yacht only in July, won both windward-leewards in the Wally Class. “That was a bit of luck,” admitted tactician Hamish Pepper. “The breeze shifted aggressively on the first beat and we were on the right side of it while the Wallycentos were not. It was quite tricky conditions - 7-10 knots and the breeze was shifting quite a bit, but we managed to sail the boat well and be in the right spot on a couple of occasions.”
In the fourth day the fleet was sent to the south of Porto Cervo for a costal course around the islands of Soffi, Mortorio and Mortoriotto. Lyra made her third bullet in a row, holding a commanding lead with Magic Carpet Cubed, who compellingly took line honours, second and first of the trio of powerful Wallycentos.“Today the small boats were incredible,” said veteran French America’s Cup and offshore skipper Marc Pajot, strategist onboard Tango. “As there are only two boats, J One and Lyra, they don’t do too many tacks.”
While a Mistral was forecast for the penultimate day, the westerly wind edged only into the early 20s making for an exciting day out on the water over a coastal course around the La Maddalena archipelago. Remarkably Lyra won again, while in the Wallycento battle it was the turn of Tango to prevail. “The Wallycentos are very close to each other,” said the owner of Tango. “One day it is somebody and the next day it is the next guy. Tango is a great pleasure to drive. It is powerful. The previous Tango G, a Wally 80, was underpowered – this one isn’t. We are getting used to it.”
The wind picked up from 5 to 15 knots in the last day, for the remaining two windward/leewards. Tango outperformed the competitors in both races with excellent starts and leading throughout the courses, finishing first and second in corrected time to get ahead of Magic Carpet Cubed in the final standings by half a point only! Lyra got a second and a first again, and won the Wally Class: her scoreline comprised an impressive five wins and two seconds, despite this being the first ever regatta for her owner-driver.
Lyra was also awarded with the Gino Bossi Trophy, reserved to the winner of the longest coastal course.
The next rendezvous of the Wally Class the Voiles de Saint Tropez, from 30 September to 6 October, that ends the racing season.
Photo courtesy Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi
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