Hap Fauth is a busy guy. Aside from running the major private investment group The Churchill Companies the 73-year-old is also team principal and CEO at the New York Yacht Club’s America’s Cup-challenging syndicate, American Magic.
But despite the undoubtedly heavy workload associated with these two roles Fauth somehow also finds time to manage his own grand prix yacht racing campaign in the form of his Bella Mente Maxi 72 program.
The Bella Mente team has been pretty successful over the years with Fauth’s star-studded crew so far securing three Maxi 72 world championship titles. Now though Fauth has set his sights on adding a fourth worlds win this year following the recent launch of his fourth Maxi 72 – named of course, Bella Mente.
Although he is at an age when most people would have long-since eased back on their work and sporting commitments Fauth has no such plans and says he is fully fired up by the idea of a new boat, a new season and the chance to challenge for a fourth world championship title.
“If I were to wait two or three years, I might not have the same motivation to do this type of thing, so why not do it now?” he said. “And besides, two sailing programs are twice the fun.”
Launched at the end of last year the new Bella Mente’s first real test will be the RORC Caribbean 600 Caribbean 600 in February, although the new boat did just set a new monohull record in a 60-mile race from Miami to Palm Beach, Florida at the Wirth M. Munroe Regatta.
Although just a short hop, according to Fauth the new boat stood up well to the rigours of racing in the notoriously bumpy conditions associated with the Gulf Stream.
“There was no breakage, no mysterious sounds,” he said. “The boat feels great – it’s very well balanced and easy to put in a groove and keep it there.”
The new Bella Mente was designed by Botin Partners in Spain and built at New England Boatworks in Rhode Island. The new boat went through seven days of sea trials off Rhode Island before being shipped to West Palm Beach for additional sea trial time.
The original plan had been to launch the boat and go straight to the 2018 Worlds – however, in the end it was determined that the schedule was too tight.
Bella Mente tactician Terry Hutchinson – skipper of the American Magic project – said he could tell straight away that the boat had potential to be a winner.
“We dropped off some pretty big waves in Narragansett Bay – nasty short, sharp chop, max runner, max mainsheet load, everything was wound on – and didn’t have to go in for anything going wrong,” he said.
Although Fauth has a new boat the team he has assembled to race alongside him – including offshore helmsman and crew boss Mike Sanderson (CEO of Doyle Sails), navigator Ian Moore, and strategist Adrian Stead – is much the same as it has been for the last five years.
“We have guys that own their areas of expertise, and they’ve done laps around the world,” said Hutchinson. “We have good balance across the wide spectrum of racing that we do, and for the better part of three years the Bella Mente Racing Team has had a 75 per cent winning percentage of regattas entered. It’s hard to complain about that.”
Asked how he and Fauth will be able to juggle two major sailing campaigns, Hutchinson replied: “Proper planning, clear objectives.”
Fauth says the Bella Mente campaign “will have its own energy, separate from the American Magic campaign”.
“We’re going at this with the same discipline, the same passion and same commitment that we’ve applied to every one of our Maxi 72 campaigns,” he said. “We have the best people, the best resources, and we approach our sailing in the most efficient manner to get the best results.”
As CEO of the American Magic syndicate, Fauth says he and the other principals (Doug DeVos and Roger Penske) are giving their all to help their team progress to the America’s Cup finals to compete against defender Emirates Team New Zealand for the oldest trophy in international sport.
“It’s a path I’ve never been down before, but I’m pretty convinced I can handle this and the Bella Mente campaign at the same time,” said Fauth, pausing before laughing.
“I have a great capacity for pain!”