[Source: Maxi yacht Rolex Cup] The final verdicts on the water were delivered during the final day’s pulsating and decisive racing, marking the conclusion of the 25th edition of the sailing spectacular organized by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda (YCCS) and the International Maxi Association (IMA) and sponsored by Rolex since 1985
Andres Soriano’s Alegre claimed a first Mini Maxi Rolex World Championship following a final day head to head with Roberto Tomasini Grinover’s resilient Robertissima III. In the Wally Class, Magic Carpet 3 sealed the title after a week of numerous twists and turns; Lionheart is the new J-Class champion; in Supermaxi Fireflyconfirmed her domination of the regatta; Lupa of London claimed Maxi racing/cruising. At the final prizegiving, class winners received a Rolex timepiece and Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup trophy.
LIONHEART (NED), overall winner in J-Class division. Photo Credit: Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi
Alegre: Joy Unconfined
Tension on the docks was palpable in the morning. Crews desperately sought to maintain a sense of composure ahead of an intense day’s racing; tactical plans were clarified, sail choices defined. In the Mini Maxi Rolex World Championship, Alegre had twice gone into the final day (2010, 2013) with destiny in her own hands. On both occasions she lost out to Niklas Zennström’s Rán 2. This year Zennström and his new Rán 5were out of the running, beginning the day in third place and over ten points behind the leader. Alegre would still have to defeat Zennström’s all-conquering boat – the former Rán 2 is now in the capable hands of Grinover. Three points separated the two teams. Two windward/leeward races remained. All to play for.
We can’t let them [Robertissima] get away. We need to be cautious and keep it close,” confirmed Alegre’s Olly Cameron pre-race. On Robertissima, the atmosphere was disteso. “We are lucky to have this opportunity and we should be proud of what we have achieved until now,” said tactician Vasco Vascotto. “We just need to focus on sailing well. We said to the crew this morning treat it like it’s a Saturday race with your local club, pretend there’s not something important at stake. If we give our all it’s enough.”
In a gustier day than expected – winds averaged 18-20 knots – it was Rán who enjoyed a typically impressive final fling claiming bullets in both races to finish third overall; more importantly Alegre’s third and fourth places were enough to curtail Robertissima’s dreams of success and in the process seal that elusive title.
“It’s a great achievement for the team to be World Champion,” said Soriano. “I’m relieved, it’s something we strove for, we’ve been (in this position) twice already and we finally were able to get over the last hurdle. We sailed our own race; loose, relaxed, confident like we have all week. This year the level of the competition has been raised, more than any of us could have imagined.” The dockside congratulations reserved for Soriano from fellow Mini Maxi owners demonstrated that while the Class is about tough, competitive racing on the water, a gentlemanly spirit punctuates rivalries.
Irvine Laidlaw’s HIGHLAND FLING (MON), overall winner in Mini Maxi Racing/Crusing division. Photo Credit: Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi
The only certainty in the J-Class is that a new champion will be crowned. Velsheda has failed to finish higher than third all week, leaving a three-way battle between Rainbow, Lionheart and Ranger for the title. The week’s largest boat, the 43.7m Lionheart holds a slender one-point advantage over Rainbow, three-time winnerRanger is a further point adrift.
Magic Carpet: Flying
In the Wally class, there was no obvious favourite going into today’s racing. The three leading crews were separated by just one point, all had winning Porto Cervo pedigree, all had led at some point during the week. Frenchman Jean-Charles Decaux’s defending champion J One began the day level on terms with Claus-Peter Offen’s four-time winner Y3K. Stalking just one point behind was Sir Lindsay Owen-Jones, five-time winner at the event, and his Magic Carpet 3
A third bullet of the week enabled Magic Carpet 3 to take the first windward/leeward race; Y3K stumbled early suffering from a poor start; J One could not match Magic Carpet’s mastery of the conditions and had to settle for third. Magic Carpet’s supremacy was confirmed in the final race as her rivals fell by the wayside; J One had to retire; equipment issues led to Y3K failing to finish; survival of the fittest and third place was enough for Owen-Jones to claim a first success with his 2013-launched Wally Cento.
“It was a close week,” reflected Owen-Jones, “J-One sails well, I know it well having been a boat of mine. We’ve been coming here a long time, it is the one we all want to win.”
Eric Bijlsma’s FIREFLY (NED), winner in Supermaxi class. Photo Credit: Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi
Sleek lines, tall masts and decks gleaming with polished winches and varnished woodwork, mean the J-Class boats have caught many admiring glances. The four-strong fleet swapped positions throughout the week, magnified during racing on the final day. With defending champion Velsheda out of the running after a poor week by her standards it was left to Lionheart, Rainbow and Ranger to compete for the title.
Lionheart’s day did not start well. Last place in the first windward/leeward race following a jib problem handed the initiative to her rivals; Rainbow faired little better, penalised for crossing the start line too early and finishing in third; Velsheda took the bullet, Ranger claimed second place.
Going into the final race, Lionheart, Rainbow and Ranger were tied at the top on ten points. Winner would take all. “It was pretty tough out there today,” explained Lionheart tactician Bouwe Bekking. “In the last race we didn’t make a brilliant start, but then we had a good run and got right back into it, Rainbow lost their spinnaker, and we had to tack off to clear it; they then had a tussle with Velsheda.” It was a tussle which finished in the Protest Room and saw Rainbow, winners on the water, disqualified. “Sometimes that’s how yacht racing goes,” reflected Bekking. “It has been really close, better racing you can’t get. The crew won us the regatta.”
A full review of the 25th Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup will be available on Tuesday 9 September.
2014 MAXI YACHT ROLEX CUP – FINAL RESULTS
Place, Boat Name, Boat Owner, Races; Total Points
Mini Maxi Rolex World Championship
1. Alegre (GBR), Alegre Yachting Ltd., 18 pts
2. Robertissima (CAY), Roberto Tomasini, 22 pts
3. Rán 5 (GBR), Niklas Zennstrom 22.5 pts
Mini Maxi R/C
1. Lupa of London (GBR), Jeremy Pilkington, 5
2. Bronenosec (RUS), Alpenberg S.A., 8
3. Arobas (FRA), Gerard Logel, 12
1. Highland Fling XI (MON), Irvine Laidlaw, 4
2. Odin (CAY), Tom Siebel, 8
3. Bristolian (GBR), Bristolian Marine Ltd., 13
1. Lionheart (GBR), Stichting Lionheart Syndicate, 12
2. Rainbow (NED), SPF JH2, 13
3. Ranger (CAY), R.S.V. Ltd., 14
1. Firefly (NED), Eric Bijlsma, 4
2. Inoui (SUI), Marco Vögele, 7
3. Viriella (ITA), Vittorio Moretti, 12
1. Magic Carpet 3 (GBR), Sir Lindsey Owen Jones, 13
2. J One (GBR), Jean Charles Decaux, 14
3. Y3K (GER), Claus Peter Offen, 15
Complete results may be found here