American Hap Fauth’s Bella Mente retained her Rolex Maxi 72 World Champion’s crown at the conclusion of the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, organised by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda and the International Maxi Association.
The defending champion had led from the outset of the regatta, although at one point on Friday her advantage had dropped to less than a point. Today the tables turned and winning the first race in 10-12 knots was enough for Fauth and Bella Mente to hang on to their World title with a race to spare.
“It feels just fantastic,” said a beaming Fauth. This is Bella Mente’s third Rolex Maxi 72 World Championship title win, and her second consecutive. But this was the hardest yet, the US team targeted by the five other Maxi 72s. “Everybody was aware of our strengths and there was always a blocking attempt in the starting sequences. We know what we like to do and they would go out of their way to move us around.”
Tactician Terry Hutchinson praised the team: “A solid effort all round. Copa del Rey was a good toughening event for us. Proteus sailed very well there and it raised the bar in the fleet. We knew for sure that this one wasn’t going to be a cakewalk.
“We work the law of averages and when the regatta got shortened because of the weather, I had a lot of anxiety, because you rely on a longer race series to just chip along. But the guys – from bow to stern - did great work. It is absolutely a pleasure and privilege to work for Hap. He provides us with everything we need to win. And we execute.”
The biggest class completing at the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup was Wallys. This was won by the biggest, fastest boat, Thomas Bscher’s Wally 107, Open Season, which claimed today’s first race. “I am very pleased and for the boat it is great,” commented Bscher. “Sometimes the wind favours the bigger boats and sometimes the smaller boats, so you have to be a little bit lucky. We had a very good start with three firsts and a second and got into a position where you could only lose. We were a bit nervous because two bad results would have killed us today, but the first race was our best all week – everything was 100%, which is rare!”
One of the star performers of the day was Jean-Charles Decaux’s Wally 77, J One, which won the final race elevating her to second overall. Kim Schindelhauer's 33m Winwin scored a final race win to consolidate her lead in the Super Maxi class. This class included the impressive match racing between the Js, Velsheda and Lionheart. Lionheart claiming the final coastal race to win overall on countback, under the J’s JCA handicap system, retaining their Corinthian King's Cup for a fourth consecutive time. In the Maxi Racing class, Mike Slade's Leopard 3 benefitted from George David's Rambler 88 being OCS. The British maxi then maintained a tight cover over her thoroughbred American rival to score her third bullet of the series and with it overall victory.
Similarly Pier Luigi Loro Piana's My Song scored her third win today to come out on top in the Maxi Racer-Cruiser class, in what could be this Farr 84’s final regatta under her present ownership. Her replacement, a Reichel-Pugh 130, has been on the dock in Porto Cervo all week.
A final win today for the Mills 68 Prospector (ex Alegre/Caol Ila R) was not enough for her new American trio of owners to prevent Carlo Alessandro Puri Negri’s Atalanta II from claiming honours in the Mini Maxi Racing class.
“I am happy to finish like this,” said Puri Negri, adding that his 2004 vintage, but much modified Farr 70 preferred Thursday and Friday’s lighter conditions. He praised his long term tactician Gabriele Benussi. “He was more than half of the reason we won here.”
Meanwhile in Maxi Maxi Racer-Cruiser, Gérard Logel’s Swan 601 @robas finally scored a race win today, but Benoit de Froidmont’s Wally 60, Wallyῆo claimed the overall class prize.
This was Wallyῆo’s first win at the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup for her Geneva-based owner, who sails with a largely French crew. “We have a great team and the boat was well prepared so it was good job by the team and the wind conditions were perfect for us - this boat prefers lighter winds,” explained de Froidmont. “Today was fun. We were quite conservative at the start - we didn’t want to take any risks.”
Looking at this year’s Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, President of the International Maxi Association, Thomas Bscher said: “I think we’ve had one of the best events I can remember because finally the big boats came back so there will be good growth in that fleet over the next couple of years. Today you can have a 120 footer, which is as nimble as a 100 footer ten years ago. And there are more of them and they are wonderful boats.” He expects 10 more boats to be here next year.
International Maxi Association President Thomas Bscher accepts the Wally class prize. With Princess Salwa Aga Khan and Gian Riccardo Marini of Rolex SA. Photo: International Maxi Association
At Wednesday night’s International Maxi Association Owners’ Dinner Dieter Schön’s Maxi 72 MOMO was announced as the 2015 IMA Boat of the Year, while Rambler 88 owner George David was presented with the trophy for winning the 2016 Mediterranean Maxi Offshore Challenge.