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Bella Mente claims IMA Maxi European Championship title in style

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In a great display of on-the-water dominance within an already elite-level class, Hap Fauth, tactician Terry Hutchinson and the all-star cast of the Maxi 74 Bella Mente today claimed the third edition of the IMA Maxi European Championship, supported by Rolex as Official Timepiece.

Main image: Hap Fauth steers Bella Mente to victory in today’s race. Image © IMA / Studio Borlenghi

Held out of Sorrento, the event, which comprised the Regata dei Tre Golfi offshore race followed by four days of windward-leeward and coastal racing, including yesterday’s popular lap of Capri, was organised by Circolo del Remo e della Vela Italia (CRVI) and supported by Loro Piana.

Today, after a long wait for wind and just short of cut-off time, a light breeze materialised and PRO Stuart Childerley was able to hold one coastal course in a patchy wind that peaked at 5-6 knots.

Having taken the lead overall in the 20 boat fleet yesterday, Hap Fauth’s Bella Mente stormed off the start into an early lead and never looked back.

While the three Wallycentos should have had the upper hand, the nimble 74ft pure racer kept her nose ahead of Wallycentos V and Galateia to win the final race and the IMA Maxi Europeans title. Former Maxi 72s owned the podium with Sir Peter Ogden’s 77ft Jethou a worthy second, six points behind Bella Mente and the defending champion, Peter Dubens’ North Star third.

Sir Peter Ogden’s Jethou finished the IMA Maxi Europeans a worthy second. Image © IMA / Studio Borlenghi

“She has legs is all I can say,” said a beaming Fauth. “We got an unbelievably good start – there was a lot of congestion but we found a hole and were gone.”

Latest of the former Maxi 72s, Bella Mente is five years old but has undergone constant evolution and now sports twin rudders, water ballast and a powerboat-style interceptor on her transom. “We had speed against all of the 100 footers,” continued Fauth. “The venue is great and the event was terrific – I am so glad that they got a race off today even if it required patience for everyone, participants and committee.”

Having won the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup last September, the IMA Maxi European this week, Fauth is hoping to make it a triple if his American Magic successfully challenges for the America’s Cup in Barcelona this October. At the prizegiving Fauth was also awarded the prize for finishing top IMA member.

Tactician Terry Hutchinson, one of three members here from the AC team, alongside Fauth and Sean Clarkson, commented of their victory: “From the shore team through to Hap everyone gave their best. It is really good racing with the other 72 to 77s.”

And of today’s race win: “Coach James [Lyne] had been on us about not starting close enough to the line – just time and distance. We haven’t properly raced since the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup , so it takes a little time to get back into it.”

While the former Maxi 72s again dominated the results, Karel Komárek’s V ended the Europeans fourth, tied on points with Peter Harrison’s Jolt, whose second today was her best result this week. The sinister-looking all-black Wallycento crossing the start line very early and had to round the committee boat to start properly.

“We were a little over-exuberant,” explained V tactician Ken Read. “We wanted the right because with a one mile beat it was going to be super difficult to get left. Plus we expected the 72s to be quicker – so there was going to be traffic.” When the race was shortened after three legs, V was a minute ahead of Chris Flowers’ higher rated Galateia.

With their awesome size, the 100s are akin to a modern day J Class. “These boats are marvellous to sail. And they are really turning into real race boats now,” concluded Read.

Due to the way this championship is scored, Paul Berger’s Swan 80 Kallima won Class 3 by two points based on results from Class 3 alone, while Guido Paolo Gamucci’s canting Mylius 60 Cippa Lippa X was the higher scoring Class 3 boat in the overall results. Gamucci was pleased how they raced today: “It was a difficult wait until the start. The wind was coming and going, then it was tough because there were big areas where the wind was much lighter.”

A standout performance of the week has been that of Giuseppe Puttini’s local heroes on the Swan 65 Shirlaf. After winning the Regata dei Tre Golfi outright, the 48-year-old ketch was leading the IMA Maxi European championship until yesterday morning. As the modern large maxis began to shine, Shirlaf ended the Europeans a creditable sixth overall, winning her class just two points ahead in the overall results of Vincenzo Addessi’s Mylius 18E35 and IMA President Benoît de Froidmont’s Wally 60 Wallyño.

“We are very happy with the regatta,” said Shirlaf tactician Gabriele Bruni. “We knew that winning the long distance race would give us a little lead. We tried to consolidate on that. Shirlaf struggles in the light airs, but today we did a good job. We won our class, so we are really happy.” Puttini has been campaigning Shirlaf for almost 20 years with a mostly local amateur crew and over this time has steadily modernised her with a bowsprit, modern sails, etc.

Benoît de Froidmont, who’s Wallyño was fourth home and first in class in today’s race, said of his week: “We have been improved progressively over the week. We have a new crew and it is always difficult to get them up to speed. Wallyño is a light wind boat and over the last two days we have been performing much better.”

On behalf of the International Maxi Association Secretary General Andrew McIrvine commented: “We have had a fantastic week with a great mix of conditions and almost no rain. Congratulations to IMA Vice President Hap Fauth and the Bella Mente team – they are worthy winners. I would like to thank the event supporters Rolex and Loro Piana, plus the CRVI, the race committee, jury and organisers who have done a superb job this week.”

Report by James Boyd/International Maxi Association

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