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Double bullet day for Bella Mente at IMA Maxi Europeans

Yacht Racing Podcast

After a windless zero race Monday, the IMA Maxi European Championship, supported by Rolex as Official Timepiece, enjoyed a brisk 15-19 knot westerly and lumpy seas for its second day.

With the event hosted out of Sorrento by the Circolo del Remo e della Vela Italia (CRVI) and supported by Loro Piana, two windward-leewards were raced out on the Gulf of Naples for the 20-strong fleet of 60-100 footers.

The westerly wind blowing through the gap in the Campanian Archipelago between Capri and Ischia allowed a significant, and occasionally chaotic sea state to develop. PRO Stuart Childerley set up the line today off Sorrento with 2.3 mile legs in the first windward-leeward, extended to 3.6 miles for the second.

Thanks to her supreme performance in the Regata dei Tre Golfi, the IMA Maxi Europeans’ offshore race, Giuseppe Puttini’s 48 year old Swan 65 ketch Shirlaf continues to lead the event overall. However while the former Maxi 72s suffered in the offshore, today they prevailed. As a result the venerable Shirlaf still leads, but by only one point.

Main image: Hap Fauth’s 74ft Bella Mente was today’s undisputed top boat. Image © Tre Golfi Sailing Week / Sudio Borlenghi

Today’s resounding champion was Hap Fauth’s 74ft Bella Mente. The boss of the American Magic America’s Cup challenge was on fire, scoring two bullets and now is breathing down Shirlaf’s neck. But one point behind is Peter Dubens’ North Star, defending IMA European Champion, with Sir Peter Ogden’s Jethou fourth.

In both races Bella Mente started from the pin, which worked especially well in race one, said tactician Terry Hutchinson. “The Jethou guys sailed a good second race when we got tangled up with the 100 footers on the second beat and did three more tacks than them.”

He praised Fauth and the team who haven’t sailed together since winning the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup last September. “It was very good racing – it must have been awesome to watch.” But just one point behind is Peter Dubens’ 72ft North Star, which posted two thirds today despite starting the first race with no hydraulic pressure.

Bella Mente wins the pin but with the giant Galateia to weather of her at the start of race two. Image © IMA / Studio Borlenghi

Certainly the heavyweight bout was exciting to watch between the three 100 footers and the Wally 93 Bullitt as they thundered around the course. Here Chris Flowers’ Galateia won the first race and Andrea Recordati’s Bullitt the second, placing his Wally 93 into lead of this group.

There was added drama when after the top mark rounding in the first race, the spinnaker halyard exploded on Karel Komárek’s V, causing her kite to descend gracefully into the water. The monstrous acreage of sail took ages to retrieve forcing boats astern to take avoiding action and V eventually retired from the race with a broken aft stanchion. They fought back in the second race to finish second.

Of today’s conditions Galateia’s tactician Kelvin Harrap said: “It was pretty hard on the water because conditions were tough and with the water ballast it makes the boat harder to sail upwind in the waves.”

Of the racing, he added: “It was a game of inches again. In the second race Jordi [Calafat] and Murray [Jones] got us off the line well, set us up and we just crossed V. At the top mark, there were three 100 footers overlapped…” They remained overlapped at the leeward gate. “It’s going to be a great season. The racing is very exciting – with no room for any error.”

While Class 4 top the results because of their Regata dei Tre Golfi performance, and Classes 2 and 1 propelled themselves up the leaderboard today, in Class 3 there is work to be done. However here there is the closest competition – within their class just one point separates first from fourth.

On top but tied with Guido Paolo Gamucci’s canting keel Mylius 60 Cippa Lippa X, is Paul Berger’s Swan 80 Kallima, which scored a 18-9 in the overall fleet today.

“It didn’t start very well,” admitted Romain Mouchel, Kallima’s tactician. “In race one our jib came out so we were late and then we broke the tack, so we were playing catch up the whole way up. Then on the first bear away set we tore the A4, so we had to recover that and put up the A2. In race 2 we had much better start and went left in more pressure and more left shift.”

Karel Komárek’s V suffered an expoding kite halyard in the opening race but recovered in the second. Image © IMA / Studio Borlenghi

On the water Kallima was struggling to contend with the higher rated canting keel and newly water ballasted Cippa Lippa X, whose tactician Michele Regolo said of their day: “The starts were tough – when you have some 100 footer or 72s close it is not easy to get off the line, but we are pretty happy about today. It was shifty and gusty, the left was sometimes better but not all the time. With our canting keel, trimmable canard and water ballast – when we tack it is like a circus. But the boat is going fast and in light wind and downwind it seems good.”

Tomorrow, the third day of the IMA Maxi Europeans, two coastal races are scheduled with a forecast for 7-10 knot winds. After the first of these, teams will be permitted to discard their worst result from the inshore races.

Report by James Boyd/International Maxi Association

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