International Maxi Association Brief

International Maxi Association Luxury Yacht Charter & Superyacht News

RORC Transatlantic Race 2014: Day 4

December 03, 2014

The early hours of today, Wednesday, December 3, 2014, saw the Finot-Conq 100 superyacht Nomad IV, sailed by Jean-Paul Riviere at the currently running RORC Transatlantic Race, reach Las Palmas, Gran Canaria. The assessment of the broken boom is that it cannot be repaired well enough to rejoin the race and, sadly, sailing yacht Nomad IV has officially retired.

Superyacht Windfall, Southern Wind 94 - next stop Grenada © Puerto Calero James Mitchell

Superyacht Windfall, Southern Wind 94 - next stop Grenada © Puerto Calero/James Mitchell

500 miles offshore into the Atlantic, the battle is raging for Line Honours. Russian Southern Wind 94 luxury yacht  Windfall, skippered by Fabrizio Oddone, is just ahead of Jeremy Pilkington’s British RP78 charter yacht Lupa of London. Since the start on Sunday, both yachts have recorded the same VMG, a mathematical indication of the intensity of the race between the two Maxis vying for the IMA Trophy, and this morning the two yachts gybed less than a mile apart with Windfall just retaining the lead on the water.

Lupa’s crew are starting to settle into the routine and Fred Pilkington reported: “The sea state has settled down and we are now cruising along nicely with the kite. The team is being fuelled by Chef, Sofia Winghamre McCarter’s premium grub and there was nearly calamari on the menu following an incident at midnight when an airborne squid struck Captain Dan Stump on the head. Once we overcame our puzzlement as to what it was, we decided to return it to whence it came!”

Aref Lahham’s Swan 68 sailing yacht Yacana, is still estimated to be leading IRC One, although big gains have been made during the last 24 hours by Marc Lepesqueux’s Class40, Sensation Class 40. The wind has veered to the east and this downwind angle with rolling waves is much more suited to Sensation than Yacana. Class40 Oakcliff Racing, skippered by Hobie Ponting, is also revelling in the downwind surf but two big gybes out to the north didn’t look like they paid off.

Aref Lahham and crew of Swan 68 Yacht Yacana  © Puerto Calero James Mitchell

Aref Lahham and crew of Swan 68 Yacht Yacana © Puerto Calero/James Mitchell

In IRC Two Nigel Passmore’s British J/133, Apollo 7, has taken up a southerly position compared to their rivals Frank Lang’s French X 40, Optim’X. Apollo 7 may well have taken up this position to avoid an area of high pressure to the north and it looks to be paying off, as Apollo 7 was 26 miles ahead of Optim’X on the water and also estimated to be leading the class after time correction under IRC.

The RORC Transatlantic fleet have now spent three nights at sea and any vestiges of daily-life on dry land will have vanished. The watch system on board the yachts has become the rhythm of life. Day or night, the sailors will take it in turn to drive, trim and manoeuvre their yachts, putting faith in the others when it is time to rest below.

Swan Yacana has the luxury of a full galley and refrigeration and the mainly Greek crew sent a message from the boat, which gives a flavour of life on board: “The rule is no dry food on this boat. Our breakfast is a choice of jams, toast, honey, yoghurt, fruits, juices, coffee or tea and a variety of cereal. Main meal: A beef ragout (Kokkinisto Mosharaki) with spaghetti or rice (for the more sensitive stomachs), a salad with plenty of fresh scallions and dill, plenty of lemon and of course, Virgin Greek olive oil. Dinner was Linguini Bolognaise and fruits. I know your next question: Are these guys sailing or eating? Bon appétit!” – S/Y Yacana.

Denis Villotte’s JNP 12, Sérénade, has just three crew on board. The French team will have two on deck, driving and trimming for 3 hours, while the third crew member sleeps; a real challenge to resilience, stamina and seamanship. Denis Villotte spoke to the RORC media team before departure. “I would like to make a faster crossing than the previous one (16 days 4 hrs) which won’t be easy as the distance is a bit longer and winds might be weaker. Crossing the Atlantic with the trade winds is not so easy when you are racing. You may get sudden strong squalls, especially before dawn and you have to be swift and reactive, requiring everyone to be on deck for the manoeuvre. We are a small crew and the automatic pilot won’t be allowed, so the race is going to be a real challenge. I hope we’ll be able to make a good result in the race. Whatever happens, it’s always a great moment to steer a yacht running downwind in the trades with her spinnaker flying.”

The inaugural RORC Transatlantic Race, in association with the International Maxi Association (IMA), started on Saturday 30th November 1000 UTC from Puerto Calero, Lanzarote, Canary Islands bound for Grenada, West Indies, 2,995 nautical miles across the Atlantic Ocean.

RORC Transatlantic Race 2014: Day 3

December 02, 2014

The first RORC Transatlantic Race, in partnership with the International Maxi Association (IMA), kicked off on Saturday 30th November 1000 UTC from Puerto Calero, Lanzarote, Canary Islands bound for the beautiful Grenada yacht charter destination, nestled in West Indies, 2,995 nautical miles across the Atlantic Ocean.

Nomad IV superyacht at the start of the RORC Transatlantic Race, leaving Lanzarote © Puerto Calero James Mitchell

Nomad IV superyacht at the start of the RORC Transatlantic Race, leaving Lanzarote © Puerto Calero/James Mitchell

After leading the fleet out of the Canary Islands yesterday afternoon the Finot-Conq 100 superyacht Nomad IV, sailed by Jean-Paul Riviere, was leading the race until gear failure forced the French Maxi to head back to the Canary Islands for repairs. All of the crew are safe and well. At about 2000 UTC on Monday 1st December, Nomad IV was approximately 110 miles south west of La Palma when the RORC Transatlantic tracker showed the boat had turned around and was heading back towards the Canaries.

At 2138 UTC, sailing yacht Nomad IV contacted the RORC Race Committee by satellite link to report that the boom of the 100ft Maxi had broken but that all were safe on board. The RORC Race Committee have remained in contact with Nomad IV and it is understood that the crew do not require assistance and plan to head back to the Canaries, probably Tenerife, to effect repairs.

Nomad IV yacht was the hot favourite for Line Honours for the RORC Transatlantic Race to win the prestigious IMA Trophy and hopefully the team can effect a repair that will allow them to re-continue. However, the incident occurred over 100 miles out into the Atlantic and the French team will have virtually no chance of catching the front runners, even if a solution to the problem can be found quickly.

Battle on for line honours. Southern Wind 94, Windfall at the start of the RORC Transatlantic Race - Image by Puerto Calero James Mitchell

Battle on for line honours. Southern Wind 94 yacht Windfall at the start of the RORC Transatlantic Race - Image by Puerto Calero/James Mitchell

Nomad’s misfortune means that at dawn on day three, the battle for the overall lead is between Jeremy Pilkington’s RP78 charter yacht Lupa of London and Russian Southern Wind 94 luxury yacht  Windfall, skippered by Fabrizio Oddone. Windfall was 50 miles north of Lupa of London’s position but in terms of distance to the finish, the two yachts are neck and neck. Windfall is positioned to skirt south around a high pressure system, which the Maxi will intend to slingshot around. Meanwhile Lupa of London seem to have taken a more conservative approach, keeping further away from the system and staying further south. The wind is due to veer east in the coming days and go lighter. If the wind does veer this will free off Windfall’s angle before Lupa of London.

American Class40 Oakcliff Racing, skippered by Hobie Ponting, has had a great last 24 hours, sailing past Aref Lahham’s Yacana in the early hours of this morning and at 0800 UTC was 11 miles ahead. However, Yacana, a classic Swan 68, is still estimated to be leading IRC One.

Currently 4th in IRC One, making 8.7 knots and 3 miles ahead of Sérénade, is the bright yellow Pogo 40, Bingo. One of four French teams in the race, Bingo is owned by husband and wife team from Paris, Isabelle and Yves Haudiquet and sailed with their long-time friends, Jean François Haupt and Pierre Crepin. Yves Haudiquet, from Yacht Club Paul Vatine, Le Havre, commented before the start: “I’m a lucky man with a 40ft boat able to surf day after day with the alizé (tradewinds) and with a motivated crew. My boat was built to compete in this sort of race and I’m hoping for a long surf ride and to increase the average boat speed from my last crossing.”

Nigel Passmore’s British J/133, Apollo 7 is currently leading IRC Two. The Plymouth team had an excellent night, blasting along under Code Zero to open up a 22 mile lead by dawn on Frank Lang’s French X-40, Optim’X.

RORC Transatlantic Race 2014: Day 2

December 01, 2014

The first RORC Transatlantic Race, in partnership with the International Maxi Association (IMA), kicked off on Sunday 30th November 1000 UTC from Puerto Calero, Lanzarote, Canary Islands bound for the fabulous Grenada yacht charter destination, nestled in West Indies, 2,995 nautical miles across the Atlantic Ocean.

Derek Hatfield's Volvo 60, Spirit of Adventure at the start of the RORC Transatlantic Race © Puerto Calero James Mitchell

Derek Hatfield's Volvo 60 yacht Spirit of Adventure at the start of the RORC Transatlantic Race © Puerto Calero/James Mitchell

After a competitive start the fleet have been battling through the first night to negotiate the fastest passage through the Canary Islands and into the open waters of the Atlantic Ocean. The entire fleet chose the northerly route through the channel between Lanzarote and Fuerteventura and once again north of Tenerife. The northerly route puts the fleet nearer the fresh breeze coming from the north rather than south where an area of little wind has developed. The rhumb line goes straight through Tenerife but the highest point, Mount Teide, has an elevation of 3,718 m (12,198ft), which would give a significant wind shadow to any yachts that ventured south.

IRC Canting Keel and Zero

Derek Hatfield’s Volvo 60, Spirit of Adventure, is estimated to be the early leader after time correction for the IRC Zero fleet. Rating far lower than the Maxi yachts in the class, Spirit of Adventure’s lead is not surprising after less than 24 hours at sea; the Canadian team are highly experienced with six of the crew having raced the boat across the Atlantic before.

Swan 68 yacht Yacana © Puerto Calero James Mitchell

Swan 68 yacht Yacana © Puerto Calero/James Mitchell

Jeremy Pilkington’s RP78 charter yacht Lupa of London have used their ‘wompa’ Code Zero to great effect, sailing high and fast across the top of Tenerife to take the overall lead on the water during the night. At dawn, Lupa of London was 40 miles from the last island, La Palma, achieving a boat speed over twice as fast as the Jean-Paul Riviere’s French Finot 100 superyacht Nomad IV. It will be interesting to see the tactics employed by Lupa of London at La Palma. Further behind, the young team on American Class40, Oakcliff Racing, have also altered course to follow Lupa of London’s track.

IRC One, Two and Three

Aref Lahham’s Swan 68, Yacana, is the clear leader in IRC One and is currently estimated to be leading the race after time correction. Most of the team hail from Greece and have sailed with each other for years and this understanding was exemplified at the start, when a spinnaker peel was pulled off with precision, to gain a big advantage. During the first night, the wind speed and direction has been in a constant state of flux and Team Yacana may well have gained the lead through good sail changing decisions and slick crew work.

Last night, Yacana sent this message from on board: “We have good wind with a few slow moments, otherwise we are doing fine. Spirits are good, thank God no rain…We are leaving the Island of Tenerife eight miles on our port and plan to be in the open ocean in about 16 hours, then heading to Grenada. Cheers to all.” – S/Y Yacana.

Nigel Passmore's J133 yacht Apollo 7 © Puerto Calero James Mitchell

Nigel Passmore's J133 yacht Apollo 7 © Puerto Calero/James Mitchell

A tremendous battle kicked off right from the start in IRC Two, Frank Lang’s French X 40, Optim’X, sailed intelligently to take the lead from Nigel Passmore’s British J/133, Apollo 7, at the start, which the French team held right along the coast of Lanzarote. Apollo 7, mainly crewed by friends from Plymouth, took a slender lead after passing the southern tip of Lanzarote and unfurled their Code Zero to open up a three mile lead on their rivals by dawn. Optim’X has a small rating advantage over Apollo 7 and this may develop into one of the closest battles in the RORC Transatlantic Race. Denis Villotte’s French JNP 12, Sérénade, is currently bringing up the rear, but estimated to be fourth overall after time correction. The twin keel design is the smallest and lightest yacht in the race and, with just three crew on board, is more suited to the downwind conditions that should feature in the race over the coming days.

Nigel Passmore reports from the course on Apollo 7: “We are round the top of Tenerife and en route to La Palma with a welcome to offshore Atlantic sailing more like the English Channel! Rain, waves and wind shifts. Still heading in the right direction with a good breeze. Crew are happy and settling in. Very much waterline length at the moment.”

Sail choice and boat handling have been the major factors to performance at this early stage in the race. Getting into the open waters of the Atlantic first pays high dividend as more wind is expected for the leaders. Just a few hours difference can turn into enough miles for leading yachts to disappear over the horizon. All of the fleet should pass La Palma into the Atlantic today, raising spinnakers which should be flying for the foreseeable future. After days of confused weather systems, the Trade Winds are forecast to re-establish over the coming days. Downwind racing, surfing down Atlantic rollers with the sun on your back – it doesn’t get a lot better than that.

RORC Transatlantic Race 2014 starts

November 30, 2014

Following two delays to the start due to adverse weather conditions, the RORC Transatlantic Race in partnership with the International Maxi Association (IMA) kicked off from Puerto Calero Marina at 1000 UTC, on Sunday, November 30, 2014.

Rainbow heralds RORC Transatlantic Race start  © RORC/James Mitchell

Rainbow heralds RORC Transatlantic Race start © RORC/James Mitchell

It was third time lucky as the RORC fleet departed Puerto Calero Marina, Lanzarote bound for Camper & Nicholsons Port Louis Marina, Grenada West Indies, 3000 miles away across the Atlantic Ocean. Rain squalls had been disturbing the air in the early hours of the morning, but virtually nothing would have prevented the eager fleet to set off on the inaugural RORC Transatlantic Race. Sunshine and a gentle northerly breeze prevailed for the start – the only abnormal weather feature was a perfect double rainbow, pointing the way to the turning mark off Marina Lanzarote, Arrecife – the only mark of the course before the fleet would make landfall in Grenada.

Finot 100 superyacht Nomad IV bound for Grenada - inaugural RORC Transatlantic Race  - © RORC James Mitchell

Finot 100 superyacht Nomad IV bound for Grenada - inaugural RORC Transatlantic Race - © RORC/James Mitchell

American Class40, Oakcliff Racing, skippered by Hobie Ponting, got away well and took an inshore line to take the lead. However, the young team from Rhode Island were soon overhauled by a trio of Maxi yachts; Jean-Paul Riviere’s French Finot 100 superyacht Nomad IV, Russian Southern Wind 94 luxury yacht  Windfall skippered by Fabrizio Oddone and Jeremy Pilkington’s British RP78 charter yacht Lupa of London.

Next stop Grenada - RORC Transatlantic Race fleet with the dramatic Lanzarote landscape in the background - Image by RORC James Mitchell

Next stop Grenada - RORC Transatlantic Race fleet with the dramatic Lanzarote landscape in the background - Image by RORC/James Mitchell

The rainbow was not the only surreal experience at the start, a fleet of young Spanish Optimist sailors had decided to use the yellow inflatable turning mark for a training session. However, three loud blasts from the coach’s whistle recalled the young sailors to a safe position, as humming deck gear and huge sail area, announced the imminent arrival of the Maxi fleet. No doubt the young sailors will tell the tale for years to come.

Following the rainbow - Charter yacht Lupa of London, Baltic 78 and Frank Lang's X40, Optim'X at the start of the RORC Transatlantic Race - Image by RORC James Mitchell

Following the rainbow - Charter yacht Lupa of London, Baltic 78 and Frank Lang's X40, Optim'X at the start of the RORC Transatlantic Race - Image by RORC/James Mitchell

Five hours into the race, Nomad IV had rounded the southern tip of Lanzarote just ahead of Windfall and Lupa of London. Derek Hatfield’s Canadian Volvo 60, Spirit of Adventure was leading the chasing pack. Frank Lang’s French X-40, Optim’X showed impressive speed, making the turning mark in the company of Class40, Oakcliff Racing and ahead of Nigel Passmore’s British J/133, Apollo 7.

About to take off across the Atlantic - Southern Wind 94, Windfall © RORC James Mitchell

About to take off across the Atlantic - Southern Wind 94, Windfall © RORC/James Mitchell

Quotes from the start of the RORC Transatlantic Race:

Optim’X skipper, Frank Lang is taking part in his fifth Transatlantic race: “I wanted to participate in this new RORC adventure and to share the experience with sailing friends,” commented Frank. “We’re looking forward to some fun racing and competition and to the long spinnaker surf rides bought on by the trade winds. It will be interesting to compare our result on corrected time with the big boats in the fleet.”

Don José Calero, President Calero Marinas: “It has been an absolute pleasure to see the impressive racing machines for this inaugural RORC Transatlantic Race in Puerto Calero. We have enjoyed hosting the crews and helping them to discover our incredible island of Lanzarote and we are pleased that they seem to have appreciated everything that Puerto Calero Marina has to offer.”

“We would like to thank Eddie Warden Owen and the RORC team for choosing Puerto Calero for what we very much hope will become an established and popular annual event and we are already looking forward to next year for the second edition of the RORC Transatlantic Race.”

RORC CEO, Eddie Warden Owen: “Just over two years ago, the RORC decided to start a transatlantic race and it is just fantastic to see these yachts away. I am delighted to see a really competitive start. They were all pushing very hard, even though it is an endurance test for them, I am very proud to see them all going especially after the amazing weather we have had this week. The plan has come together, we have 11 boats for the first edition, but this race will grow and become a classic in the future.”

RORC Admiral & Secretary General of the IMA, Andrew McIrvine: “It is an impressive sight to watch the Maxis powering away. Once the breeze came up, the acceleration was absolutely phenomenal and they just sped away from the rest of the fleet and I am sure the Maxis will have a great battle. They have only been going for an hour, but they are already changing sails and employing boat-on-boat tactics and the lead has changed three times already. This is a perfect race for Maxis at a perfect time of year to cross the Atlantic in superb conditions to take part in the IMA Caribbean season.”

A blistering start expected for RORC Transatlantic Race 2014

November 28, 2014

The first RORC Transatlantic Race, in partnership with the International Maxi Association (IMA), will kick off from Lanzarote in Canary Islands tomorrow, on Saturday, November 29, 1200 CET. This 2,995-nautical mile race across the Atlantic Ocean will finish in the fabulous Grenada yacht holiday location, nestled in the Caribbean.

Jean-Paul Riviere and Jacques Delorme on board Finot-Conq 100, Nomad IV, study the weather before the start of the RORC Transatlantic Race - Image by RORC James Mitchell

Jean-Paul Riviere and Jacques Delorme on board Finot-Conq 100 superyacht Nomad IV, study the weather before the start of the RORC Transatlantic Race - Image by RORC/James Mitchell

A blistering start to the 2014 RORC Transatlantic Race is very much on the cards, with a low pressure system expected to arrive from the northwest on Friday, bringing gale force winds and adding to the significant sea state that has already built up during the recent stormy weather in the Canary Islands. By Saturday, as the international fleet tackle the first part of the course, the wind is expected to moderate to 30-35 knots and lighter conditions are expected by Sunday.

After a short upwind leg in front of Puerto Calero Marina, the fleet will ease sheets turning east towards Lanzarote’s capital, Arrecife. A fast downwind blast along the east coast of Fuerteventura will put the fleet at full speed, followed by a close reach to Gran Canaria, where a significant sea state is expected to test the competitors. After rounding a buoy off the coast of Gran Canaria, the fleet will harden up, racing north and eventually northwest to Tenerife. For the majority of the fleet, the leg from Tenerife to La Palma should be a fast reach before passing south of La Palma, flying spinnakers into the open waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

The fleet features four Maxi Yachts vying for Line Honours and the exquisite sterling silver trophy donated by the International Maxi Association.

The RORC Transatlantic Race starts with a 160 mile course through the Canary Islands © RORC YB Tracking

The RORC Transatlantic Race starts with a 160 mile course through the Canary Islands © RORC/YB Tracking

Jeremy Pilkington’s British canting keel RP78 charter yacht Lupa of London was a class winner at the Rolex Mini Maxi World Championship in September and the powerful maxi crew includes Vendée Globe sailor, Jonny Malbon and Figaro rookie, Jackson Boutell.

Southern Wind 94 superyacht Windfall is very much in the running for Line Honours; the international crew include the legendary America’s Cup and Admiral’s Cup sailor, Lorenzo Mazza, multiple world champion Francesco Mongelli and Irish Olympic Finn sailor, Tim Goodbody.

Classic Swan 68, Yacana, owned by Aref Lanham has already covered over 2,000 miles sailing to the start from Greece and will be racing with a crew of 10, mainly from their home port of Piraeus, Greece.

Finot-Conq maxi yacht Nomad IV has one of the most experienced offshore teams in the race, including Vendée Globe winner, Alain Gautier and yacht designer, Pascal Conq. Boat captain, Jacques Delorme was on board La Poste and Charles Jourdain for consecutive Whitbread Round the World Races and has won two Atlantic doublehanded races with Loick Peyron.

“For the start, the general picture is a north westerly wind. We are expecting 30 to 35 knots at a height of 10 metres with more at the top of our rig, and there could be significant gusts of wind in between the islands,” commented Jacques Delorme. “At times we will be beating into this strong wind and there will be a significant swell because of the wind direction and also because these heavy seas have built up over several days. We are expecting waves of at least four metres, maybe as much as seven metres. So I think we will be very cautious. We will be taking a reef well in advance and we will not push the boat too hard, especially avoiding pitching in the big waves. If you want to win a race, first of all you have to finish it. At the moment, after a windy start it could become lighter, but the ITCZ (Intertropical Convergence Zone) does not pose any problems and currently our routing is suggesting that we will finish the race around the 10th December.”

Cowes-based, Brett Aarons will be racing on Nigel Passmore’s British J/133, Apollo. This will be Brett’s eighth Atlantic crossing and prior to the start, he gave a resume of what the smaller yachts can expect on Saturday.

“It’s going to be a hard start to the race, full-on around the islands. The jet stream has been funnelling low pressure systems down to the Canary Islands for a while. It looks like it will go light on Sunday but it is certainly going to be a hard race for the first 24 hours. The start of the course is about 160 miles through the Canary Islands before we head out into the Atlantic.

“After the start we will be in the wind shadow of Fuerteventura and it could be quite gusty with the wind clocking west in the gusts, which we will have to be careful about, but it should be quite a fast leg. I think the toughest leg will be to Gran Canaria, as it will be a tight angle with some big waves beam on, making it very lumpy and we will be arriving at a lee shore in about 30 knots of wind at midnight. We have a roller-furling jib and we can run a storm jib off an inner staysail, which might be a nice option. There are some upwind elements after that, but even in the big breeze this is more controllable. It is easier to spill wind when beating rather than when we are just cracked off. There are not too many navigational hazards around the course, but we will be aware of some tuna pens around the coast. For the first part of the race, it will be tough going and our goal is just to settle down into life offshore and not go at it too hard, as we have another 2,800 miles to go.”

Canadian round the world sailor, Derek Hatfield, will be making his 27th Atlantic crossing as skipper of Volvo 60, Spirit of Adventure, which will be competing in the RORC Caribbean 600 after the race. American Class40, Oakcliff Racing, skippered by Dan Flanigan, has a young team of four sailors from Rhode Island, USA, who will all be crossing the Atlantic for the first time. Oakcliff Racing should have a close encounter with Class40 Sensation and their French crew of six.

With at least 27 French sailors, the RORC Transatlantic Race crew list is dominated by competitors from France. Yves & Isabelle Haudiquet ‘s French Pogo 40, Bingo, will be sailing with four crew from the Paul Vatine Yacht Club in Le Havre. This will be Yves third Atlantic crossing. Frank Lang will be making his fifth Atlantic crossing as skipper of X-40, Optim’x. In total the crew from South Brittany have crossed the Atlantic on numerous occasions. Denis Villotte from Paris will be racing JNP 12 Biquille, Sérénade across the Atlantic for the second time.

Yesterday night, Thursday 27th November, the social programme continued in Puerto Calero Marina with the RORC Transatlantic Race Gala Party at the stylish Amura Restaurant in Puerto Calero Marina.

Westerhall Rums hosts a wonderful rum party for RORC Transatlantic Race 2014 Competitors

November 27, 2014

Saturday, November 29, 2014, will be marked by the start of the very first RORC Transatlantic Race, in partnership with the International Maxi Association (IMA). The 2,995 nautical mile race across the Atlantic Ocean will kick off from Lanzarote bound for the breath-taking Grenada yacht holiday location, nestled in the Caribbean. All of the participating yachts are now safely moored in Puerto Calero Marina and Tuesday night saw Westerhall Rums host an amazing rum party for competitors.

Competitors in the RORC Transatlantic Race enjoyed rum sampling at the Westerhall Rums rum party in Lanzarote, Canary Islands - Image by RORC James Mitchell

Competitors in the RORC Transatlantic Race enjoyed rum sampling at the Westerhall Rums rum party in Lanzarote, Canary Islands - Image by RORC/James Mitchell

The Westerhall Estate in Grenada has distilled rum since the early 1800′s and the privately owned company’s award winning rums are renowned throughout the Caribbean and by rum lovers the world over.

Nick Kingsman, Director Westerhall Rums UK hosted a rum party at the RORC Transatlantic Race Event Lounge with a variety of sipping rums for tasting including Westerhall Rums premium brands; Plantation Rum, Vintage and the recently released 7 year old Dark.

Nick Kingsman, Managing Director, Westerhall Rums and Nick Elliott, Racing Manager, Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) - © RORC James Mitchell

Nick Kingsman, Managing Director, Westerhall Rums and Nick Elliott, Racing Manager, Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) - © RORC/James Mitchell

The RORC Transatlantic Race crews enjoyed traditional nutmeg-infused Grenadian rum punch and canapés as the rhythmic tunes of the Caribbean heated up the atmosphere at Puerto Calero Marina.

“Westerhall Rums is delighted to support the RORC Transatlantic Race,” commented Nick Kingsman. “This race embodies many shared values with Westerhall Rums; heritage, tradition, quality and refinement. Many sailors enjoy rum and we hope that this introduction to our distinctive brand will be a lasting memory. Westerhall Rums wishes all of the yachts fair winds to Grenada, where we will be delighted to entertain you once again.”

Competitors enjoy the Westerhall Rums punch and their new pink caps! © RORC James Mitchell

Competitors enjoy the Westerhall Rums punch and their new pink caps! © RORC/James Mitchell

Boats ranging in size from 40-100ft and crews from 15 different nations are bound for Grenada and looking forward to their special welcome. The yachts will be hosted at Camper and NicholsonsPort Louis Marina.

RORC Transatlantic Race 2014 to host international fleet of yachts

October 24, 2014

The Royal Ocean Racing Club‘s new offshore race, RORC Transatlantic Race, will start from Lanzarote, the most eastern in the Canary Islands chain, on Saturday, November 29, 2014, finishing in the fabulous Caribbean yacht charter location – Grenada. The event will host a varied and international fleet of yachts, ranging from 40 to 100ft (12,19 to 30,48m).

The largest yacht in the RORC Transatlantic Race fleet The 100ft (30.48m) Finot-Conq superyacht, Nomad IV - Credit to Gilles Martin RagetFinot Conq

The largest yacht in the RORC Transatlantic Race fleet: The 100ft (30.48m) Finot-Conq superyacht Nomad IV - Credit to Gilles Martin Raget/Finot Conq

After a week of preparation and social events hosted at Puerto Calero Marina, the inaugural RORC Transatlantic Race will see competitors from several countries weave their way through the historic archipelago before making landfall 2,800 nautical miles away where they will be welcomed at Camper & NicholsonsPort Louis Marina.

Ever since Columbus started the trend over 500 years ago, the Canary Islands have remained the jumping-off point for yachts crossing the Atlantic to the Caribbean. The RORC Transatlantic Race will provide RORC members and other highly competitive race boats with the chance to compete in a top-level event during the east-west transatlantic crossing.

Run in association with the International Maxi Association (IMA), the race is set to become a firm favourite and fixture on annual racing calendars. Here’s a glimpse at just some of the competitors taking part in this year’s race.

Vying for line honours

A number of boats will be vying for line honours including the largest boat in the fleet, the 100ft (30.48m) Finot-Conq maxi yacht Nomad IV (MLT), the Southern Wind 94 superyacht Windfall and Baltic 78 charter yacht Lupa of London.

Jeremy Pilkington's 78ft maxi yacht Lupa of London (GBR) - Credit to Enno Oldigs

Jeremy Pilkington's 78ft maxi yacht Lupa of London (GBR) - Credit to Enno Oldigs

Jeremy Pilkington’s 78ft maxi yacht Lupa of London (GBR) will be sailed by Daniel Stump with a top crew, including Isle of Wight-based solo sailor and project manager, Jonny Malbon, and young solo offshore Artemis Offshore Academy graduate and top British ‘rookie’ in the 2013 Solitaire du Figaro, Jack Bouttell on board.

Built to combine the ultimate in performance, this Reichel Pugh-designed Baltic 78′ is a high tech package, built for speed. She has already notched up some impressive records this year, winning the Mini Maxi Racing/Cruising class at Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup in Sardinia and 1st in Combined Class IRC 0 at Giraglia Rolex Cup 2014.

“To take part in the first RORC Transatlantic Race on board Lupa of London will be a great adventure and something we wanted to support,” says Boat Captain, Daniel Stump, who has sailed in both the Canary Islands and Grenada previously. “We expect to be at sea for about 12 days and have a superb crew who are all seasoned ocean sailors and, above all, great company. I have been the Captain of Lupa of London for the past 8 years and it has been thrilling to be part of and see the development of Lupa from a fast cruising boat to a podium finisher. I owe this to a wonderful owner who very much enjoys the racing and fine-tuning of Lupa. So on the 29th November when the start gun goes off, it will be all on for Lupa’s first ever transat race,” continues Stump.

Apollo ready for lift-off

The J/133, Apollo 7 (GBR), was bought and refitted by regular RORC racer Nigel Passmore in order to compete in his first transatlantic race. “I’m taking part in the RORC Transatlantic Race in order to achieve a lifetime ambition of sailing across the Atlantic,” explains Passmore.

The Plymouth, Devon-based team has notched up a string of local victories as well as notable wins in the Rolex Fastnet Race and as overall winner of the RORC’s De Guingand Bowl and Morgan Cup races earlier this season. A crew of six for the crossing includes Isle of Wight sailor Brett Aarons.

“Once the RORC announced its intention to organise the race, I wanted to make sure I took part in the first event. We intend to do the best we can and enjoy the experience. Maintaining boat equipment and keeping on a race pace for two weeks, 24 hours a day is going to be tough. I’m looking forward to the whole race and ticking off another ‘To Do’ box when the finish gun goes off in Grenada. It’s sure to be a memorable moment,” says Apollo 7′s owner, Passmore.

Offshore training with veteran circumnavigators

The Spirit of Canada Ocean Challenges Team is delighted to have completed a successful first year on the Volvo 60, Spirit of Adventure (CAN). A season that included the RORC Caribbean 600 allowed 91 individuals, from 27 to 77 years old, to take up the opportunity to sail on the grand prix yacht with two round the world sailors, Derek Hatfield and Chris Stanmore-Major, who between them have more than 400,000 ocean miles and five circumnavigations.

Derek is the first Canadian to race around the world twice after competing in the single-handed Around Alone Race (when he was the fastest 40ft boat throughout the event) and the VELUX 5 Oceans. His latest challenge is training other people to go offshore. Using the Volvo 60 Spirit of Adventure, (formerly Amer Sports One) which was raced around the world in the 2001 Volvo Ocean Race, Derek is now taking people offshore for the experience of a lifetime. The Mk III Volvo 60 is undergoing a refit in Nova Scotia before crossing from the Nova Scotian port of Lunenberg to arrive in good time for the start from Lanzarote. Spirit of Adventure will compete for the second time in the RORC Caribbean 600 in February and already has a full boat for the race.

New kids on the block

Four young sailors from Oakcliff Sailing’s training and coaching centre based in the North Shore of Long Island, Oyster Bay, NY have been given the opportunity to compete in the RORC Transatlantic Race thanks to the generosity of their newly donated Class40.

The Oakcliff Ocean Racing Team (USA) were formed almost 12 months ago by Oakcliff’s Dan Flanigan and Hobie Ponting, with the goal to race in the Transatlantic Race 2015 from Newport, RI to Lizard Point, UK. The four-man team will start their training in less than a month, sailing the Class40 from Southampton, UK to Lanzarote in time for the start:

“We have worked hard over the past 12 months to make our Ocean Racing Team a reality,” explained navigator Hobie Ponting. “Building your own team is difficult and it often seemed like it would never happen. Then all of the sudden we have a boat and a programme and we are headed to Europe! We will use the race to launch our campaign as an offshore racing team and we expect this race to be incredibly challenging. It will not be easy, but nothing good in life comes easy. We are a new, young team who are always in fundraising mode and always learning. For us, the most challenging part of the race will be getting the boat to Lanzarote from England but we are looking forward to being on the starting line with many of the most talented offshore sailing teams around,” continues Ponting.

The crew of Dan Flanigan (23), Chris Kennedy (26), Andrew “OD” O’Donnell (27), and Hobie Ponting (23) will be depart Long Island for England at the beginning of November as they meet with the crew of Bodacious Dream to get a walkthrough of the boat before the handover. After completing the race, the team will go into full fundraising mode as they set their sights on the west to east transatlantic.

Three’s company on Sérénade

Denis Villotte’s 12m Joubert-Nivelt-Pinta, Sérénade (FRA), will join three other French yachts competing in the new race. The Parisian Management Consultant will be competing in his twin-keeled version of the JNP along with Alain Houchard from Caen and Pit Porter from Bayonne.

“I have raced Sérénade across the Atlantic once before in the 2011-12 two-handed race, La Transquadra (2 legs: Saint-Nazaire to Madeira and Madeira to Martinique). I wanted to make another Atlantic crossing in a race again. Though I loved the Transquadra experience, I wanted something different and made an entry as soon as I found out that the RORC was organising a new race. I would like to make a faster crossing than the previous one (16 days, 4 hrs) which won’t be easy as the distance is a bit longer and winds might be weaker,” explains Villotte.

“Crossing the Atlantic with the trade winds is not so easy when you are racing. You may get sudden strong squalls, especially before dawn and you have to be swift and reactive. Strategic choices may also prove crucial, especially just after the start. Tactical choices (to gybe or not to gybe) have to be made constantly. As for us, we’ll be a small crew (only 3) and we won’t use the automatic pilot, so the race is going to be a real challenge. I hope we’ll be able to make a good result in the race. Whatever happens, it’s always a great moment to steer a yacht running downwind in the trades, with her spinnaker on,” continues Sérénade’s owner Villotte.

2014 MAXI YACHT ROLEX CUP: CROWNING GLORY

September 06, 2014

Organised by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda (YCCS) and the International Maxi Association (IMA), and sponsored by Rolex since 1985, the 25th edition of the sailing spectacular – the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup has seen new class championships announced, following the final verdicts on the water delivered during today’s exhilarating and decisive race.

THE FLEET GETTING TO MORTORIOTTO ROCK UNDER SPINNAKER - Photo Rolex:Carlo Borlenghi

THE FLEET GETTING TO MORTORIOTTO ROCK UNDER SPINNAKER - Photo Rolex:Carlo Borlenghi

Andres Soriano’s sailing yacht Alegre claimed a first Mini Maxi Rolex World Championship following a final day head to head with Roberto Tomasini Grinover’s resilient yacht Robertissima III. In the Wally Class, Magic Carpet 3 yacht sealed the title after a week of numerous twists and turns; Lionheart yacht is the new J-Class champion; in Supermaxi Firefly yacht confirmed her domination of the regatta; sailing yacht Lupa of London claimed Maxi racing/cruising. At the final prizegiving, class winners received a Rolex timepiece and Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup trophy.

Alegre: Joy Unconfined
Tension on the docks was palpable this 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 5 were 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.

ALEGRE (GBR) TEAM, WINNER OF THE MINI MAXI ROLEX WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP - Photo Rolex:Carlo Borlenghi

ALEGRE (GBR) TEAM, WINNER OF THE MINI MAXI ROLEX WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP - Photo Rolex:Carlo Borlenghi

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.”

ANDRES SORIANO'S ALEGRE (GBR), OVERALL WINNER OF THE MINI MAXI ROLEX WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP 2014 - Photo Rolex:Carlo Borlenghi

ANDRES SORIANO'S ALEGRE (GBR), OVERALL WINNER OF THE MINI MAXI ROLEX WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP 2014 - Photo Rolex:Carlo Borlenghi

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.

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  yacht Y3K. Stalking just one point behind was Sir Lindsay Owen-Jones, five-time winner at the event, and his Magic Carpet 3.

MAGIC CARPET CUBED (GBR) CREW, WINNERS OF THE WALLY CLASS - Photo Carlo Borlenghi : Rolex - Photo Rolex:Carlo Borlenghi

MAGIC CARPET CUBED (GBR) CREW, WINNERS OF THE WALLY CLASS - Photo Carlo Borlenghi : Rolex - Photo Rolex:Carlo Borlenghi

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’ssupremacy was confirmed in the final race as her rivals fell by the wayside; J One had to retire; equipment issues led to Y3K yacht 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.”

Lionheart: Valiant

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 today. With defending champion Velsheda yacht out of the running after a poor week by her standards it was left to Lionheart, Rainbow and Ranger to compete for the title.

CREW OF LIONHEART (NED), WINNERS OF J-CLASS DIVISION - Photo Rolex:Carlo Borlenghi

CREW OF LIONHEART (NED), WINNERS OF J-CLASS DIVISION - Photo Rolex:Carlo Borlenghi

Going into the final race, Lionheart, Rainbow and Ranger yacht 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.”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.

LIONHEART (NED), OVERALL WINNER IN J-CLASS DIVISION - Photo Rolex:Carlo Borlenghi

LIONHEART (NED), OVERALL WINNER IN J-CLASS DIVISION - Photo Rolex:Carlo Borlenghi

A full review of the 25th Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup will be available on Tuesday 9 September.

2014 MAXI YACHT ROLEX CUP – PROVISIONAL RESULTS DAY 4

Place, Boat Name, Boat Owner, Races- Total Points

Mini Maxi Rolex World Championship

1. ALEGRE (GBR), Alegre Yachting Ltd., 1.5-1-3-4-(5)-1.5-3-4; 18

2. ROBERTISSIMA III (CAY), Roberto Tomasini Grinover, 6-2-1-5-2-3-(5)-3; 22

3. RÁN 5 (GBR), Niklas Zennström 4.5-3-2-2-(7)-9-1-1; 22.5

Mini Maxi R/C

1. LUPA OF LONDON (GBR), Jeremy Pilkington, 1-1-2-1-(7); 5

2. BRONENOSEC (RUS), Alpenberg S.A., (4)-2-1-2-3; 8

3. AROBAS (FRA), Gerard Logel, 2-4-3-3-(5); 12

Maxi Racing

1. HIGHLAND FLING XI (MON), Irvine Laidlaw, 1-1-1-1-1; 4

2. ODIN (CAY), Tom Siebel, 2-2-2-2-(2); 8

3. BRISTOLIAN (GBR), Bristolian Marine Ltd., 4-(4)-3-3-3; 13


J-Class

1. LIONHEART (GBR), Stichting Lionheart Syndicate, 4-1-2-2-1-(4)-2; 12

2. RANGER (CAY), R.S.V. Ltd., 1-2-(4)-3-2-2-3; 13

3. RAINBOW (NED), SPF JH2, 2-3-1-1-4-3-(5); 14

Supermaxi

1. FIREFLY (NED), Eric Bijlsma, 1-1-(2)-1-1 ; 4

2. INOUI (SUI), Marco Vögele, 2-2-1-2-(2); 7

3. VIRIELLA (ITA), Vittorio Moretti, 3-3-3-3-(3); 12

Wally

1. MAGIC CARPET 3 (GBR), Sir Lindsey Owen-Jones, 2-1-5-1-(5)-1-3; 13

2. J ONE (GBR), Jean Charles Decaux, 1-3-2-2-3-3-(10); 14

3. Y3K (GER), Claus Peter Offen, 3-2-1-3-2-4-(10); 15

2014 Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup: Day 4

September 05, 2014

The final races of the 2014 Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup had dramatic showdowns and the verdicts in the three classes will be determined during tomorrow’s day. All classes raced a coastal course today with around seven knots from the north at the start, building to a 12-15 knot north-easterly midway through the race.

THE FLEET GETTING TO MORTORIOTTO ROCK UNDER SPINNAKER - Photo Rolex:Carlo Borlenghi

THE FLEET GETTING TO MORTORIOTTO ROCK UNDER SPINNAKER - Photo Rolex:Carlo Borlenghi

The Mini Maxi Rolex World Championship is living up to its pre-event billing as the tightest and most competitive in its five-year history. Heading into today’s critical coastal race, just two points separated the leading three teams.

Consistency, sound decision-making and taking only calculated risks are credited as the determining factors in such a tight championship. Andres Soriano’s sailing yacht Alegre, three-time runner-up, is proving the most reliable performer. “It’s going to be a very competitive week. One mistake and that’s that,” promised Soriano ahead of the competition. Today Alegre assumed impressive control of the 25-nm long coastal race after rounding the first mark well ahead of her rivals. Her lead remained unthreatened for the remainder of the race, which took yachts south to Mortoriotto, back up the coast into the Maddalena Archipelago and a brief glimpse of Bomb Alley, before turning north to Monaci and the run home.

JEAN-CHARLES DECAUX'S J ONE (GBR) LEADING THE WALLY FLEET - Photo Rolex : Carlo Borlenghi

JEAN-CHARLES DECAUX'S J ONE (GBR) LEADING THE WALLY FLEET - Photo Rolex : Carlo Borlenghi

Robertissima III yacht, the Italian-crewed boat (and former Rán 2, last year’s winning yacht), has enjoyed a terrific week and today claimed second place. She trails Alegre by three points ahead of tomorrow’s two scheduled windward/leeward races, and Alegre’s crew know from bitter experience that such a margin is vulnerable. “We’ve been playing averages. It would have been nice to have put more points between ourselves and Robertissima ahead of the final day, but these two boats now have a jump on the fleet,” said Alegre’s Olly Cameron. “We can’t let them [Robertissima] get away. We need to be cautious [tomorrow] and keep it close.”

The learning curve for Robertissima owner Roberto Tomasini Grinover and his crew has been steep but one they are mounting at impressive velocity. “We are an inexperienced team in this class. Less than a year ago, we were here looking at the 72-ft boats and said how wonderful they were,” explains tactician Vasco Vascotto. “It’s a dream to be part of this class – it is not only about great boats but top class teams. We want to be very competitive.”

Niklas Zennström’s Rán crew started the week as the defending champion and have experience in making dramatic comebacks in Porto Cervo, but today’s sixth place on his new Rán 5 has all but ended the crew’s chances of a fourth title in five years. A new champion is all but guaranteed after 2012 victor Bella Mente also struggled in today’s coastal race, leaving Hap Fauth’s crew in fourth.

Wally Form

Engaging competition and a dramatic final day is also offered by the Wally class. Four-time winner, Claus-Peter Offen and Y3K yacht are tied on points with defending champion Jean-Charles Decaux and his J One crew. And one point behind lies Magic Carpet 3. Y3K performed better of the three teams today, finishing in third while J One claimed fourth and Owen-Jones’s Magic Carpet 3 had to settle for sixth.

“The Wally class is very strong,” explains Offen, President of the International Maxi Association, “with the two Wally Centos (Magic Carpet 3 and Open Season) and many other well-sailed yachts, it will not be easy for Y3K to win the Wally title back, but we are working on it.”

J-Class report

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 sailing yacht Rainbow, Lionheart and charter yacht Ranger for the title. The week’s largest boat, the 43.7m Lionheart holds a slender one-point advantage over Rainbow, three-time winner Ranger is a further point adrift.

Elsewhere, bullets today have handed Firefly yacht (Supermaxi), sailing yacht Lupa of London (Mini Maxi Racing/Cruising) and Highland Fling (Maxi) insurmountable leads in their respective classes.

Racing ends tomorrow. Up to two windward/leeward races are scheduled for the Mini Maxi Rolex Worlds fleet, the J-Class and Wally, while the remaining classes will sail a coastal course.

A full review of the 25th edition of the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup will be available tomorrow.

Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup

The Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup is organized by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda (YCCS) and the International Maxi Association (IMA). Rolex has been title sponsor since 1985.

2014 MAXI YACHT ROLEX CUP – PROVISIONAL RESULTS DAY 4

Place, Boat Name, Boat Owner, Races; Total Points

Mini Maxi Rolex World Championship
1. ALEGRE (GBR), Alegre Yachting Ltd., 1.5-1-3-4-(5)-1.5; 11

2. ROBERTISSIMA (CAY), Roberto Tomasini, 6-2-1-(5)-2-3; 14

3. RÁN 5 (GBR), Niklas Zennstrom 4.5-3-2-2-(7)-9; 20.5

Mini Maxi R/C

1. LUPA OF LONDON (GBR), Jeremy Pilkington, 1-1-2-1; 5

2. BRONENOSEC (RUS), Alpenberg S.A., 4-2-1-2; 9

3. AROBAS (FRA), Gerard Logel, 2-4-3-3; 12

Maxi Racing

1. HIGHLAND FLING XI (MON), Irvine Laidlaw, 1-1-1-1; 4

2. ODIN (CAY), Tom Siebel, 2-2-2-2; 8

3. BRISTOLIAN (GBR), Bristolian Marine Ltd., 4-4-3-3; 14


J-Class

1. LIONHEART (GBR), Stichting Lionheart Syndicate, (4)-1-2-2-1; 6

2. RAINBOW (NED), SPF JH2, 2-3-1-1-(4); 7

3. RANGER (CAY), R.S.V. Ltd., 1-2-(4)-3-2; 8


Supermaxi

1. FIREFLY (NED), Eric Bijlsma, 1-1-2-1; 5

2. INOUI (SUI), Marco Vögele, 2-2-1-2; 7

3. VIRIELLA (ITA), Vittorio Moretti, 3-3-3-3; 12
Wally

1. Y3K (GER), Claus Peter Offen, (3)-2-1-3-2; 8

2. J ONE (GBR), Jean Charles Decaux, 1-(3)-2-2-3; 8

3. MAGIC CARPET 3 (GBR), Sir Lindsey Owen Jones, 2-1-(5)-1-5; 9

Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup 2014: Day 4

September 05, 2014

An important part of any yacht race or regatta is the expertise of the organizing body. Top class events, attended by cutting-edge, expensive yachts and the cream of international sailing talent, require the highest professionalism in their race management. Participants require competing to be fair, enjoyable, well managed. Such an event is the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup: one of the most illustrious and complex regattas in the world. The stakes are high, attendees ultra competitive and the wind capricious.

Mini Maxi Rolex World Championship approaching the starting line - Photo by Rolex Carlo Borlenghi

Mini Maxi Rolex World Championship approaching the starting line - Photo by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi

The Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup is held on Sardinia’s Costa Smeralda, often described as one of the most perfect sailing landscapes in the world for grand prix racing. The event celebrates its 25th edition this year and the 30-year association between the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda and Rolex, one of the most longstanding relationships in sailing.

“This is always the top pick of where we like to sail around the world,” explains world-renowned sailor Brad Butterworth. “The environment of the Costa Smeralda is fantastic: the rock formations, the colour of the water, the wind and sea conditions, there is nowhere as beautiful as this for yacht racing.”

Rolex’s involvement in yachting is centred upon its privileged alliance with some of the most skilled yacht clubs around the world, including the YCCS, whose race management team is highly respected through its flawless handling of events like the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup and the Rolex Swan Cup. Ensuring the regatta runs smoothly and efficiently on the water falls to the YCCS Race Management Team led by Principal Race Officer Peter Craig and YCCS Sports Director Edoardo Recchi.

CAOL ILA R (USA) sailing by the Committee Boat - Photo by Rolex Carlo Borlenghi

CAOL ILA R (USA) sailing by the Committee Boat - Photo by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi

Course planning

One of the principal functions of the race management team is to ensure clear communication between the organizers and the competitors. Ahead of the event, the individual classes for different boat types are defined, ratings analysed, race documents meticulously prepared. The Skippers’ Briefing kicks off the week providing a communal opportunity for last minute queries. A global idea of the week’s weather and racing schedule are provided, and then each evening the intention for the following day is given.

Communication with the competitors begins each morning with a radio announcement at 09:30. Ahead of this, Craig works with the YCCS Race Management team, analysing up to five professional weather forecasts. This information helps determine location and length of the day’s racecourses. The team will also canvas the opinion of the professional navigators onsite, weathermen in their own right.

“When people ask me what a good race is, I’ll tell them in one word: fair,” explains Craig. “If you are a sailor, or former sailor like in my case, you have a good sense of what the owners want, you’ve been there on the boat with them, you know what they are looking for.”

According to Craig, making good decisions is not a one person job, he’s only as good as the people around him, and the YCCS team is highly respected by the competitors. “The yacht club is high end in terms of race management, they’re on top of everything, very professional. They have been here for a long time, they know the environment and conditions,” confirms Butterworth, tactician on Sir Peter Ogden’s Mini Maxi yacht Jethou.

View of a Mini Maxi Rolex World Championship start from the Committee Boat - Photo by Rolex Carlo Borlenghi

View of a Mini Maxi Rolex World Championship start from the Committee Boat - Photo by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi

Clean start

To the untrained eye, the starting area on the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup can appear confused. Watching 35 yachts ranging from 60 to 143-ft hoisting sails, running through last minute preparations, ensuring they make the right choice about where and when to cross the start line is nerve-jangling. There is order; each class has its own individual start time, its own sequence of instructions to follow. “As it gets closer to the first gun the boats not involved in that start will clear out and give appropriate room to the starting class,” explains Craig. “We’re looking for people to behave themselves, you will hear us on the radio if they are not.”

One of the key factors at the start is ensuring no boat crosses the line too early. When competitors are timing their arrival by split seconds, seeking small but significant advantages, it’s a critical, but difficult task for the race officers. “These boats have the latest technology, the very best sailors, so they are not two or three boat lengths beyond but a matter of metres. If they have started early and must double-back, we have to make that call.” The Race Committee has boats stationed at both ends of the start line to ensure an optimum view.

Sir Peter Ogden's JETHOU (GBR) surfing the waves at full speed downwind - Photo by Rolex Carlo Borlenghi

Sir Peter Ogden's JETHOU (GBR) surfing the waves at full speed downwind - Photo by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi

Adapting to conditions

Once a race has started, the focus changes to ensuring the racing remains fair on the water. Planning commences beforehand. “We look at the VPPs (speed predictions) for each of the boats in each of classes, because they can vary greatly. We decide what the starting order and the differential between start times should be,” explains Craig. “You don’t want to have a one hour starting sequence but at the same time you don’t want one class of boats running over a second 15 minutes into a race. There’s an awful lot that goes into it. It’s a challenge, but it’s a challenge we really enjoy.”

One additional layer of complexity is that racing may take place simultaneously on more than one course. While one group may be contesting windward/leeward racing on a narrow, short racecourse, others will be embarking on a coastal race upwards of 40-nm through La Maddalena’s rocky archipelago. “We have YCCS service boats with very capable people tracking the boats reporting back to the race officer what the wind conditions are, where the boats are on the racetrack, if conditions are changing drastically.”

Shared respect

Monitoring the finish line is generally easier than the start but scrutiny is still needed. In the Mini Maxi Rolex World Championship it is not uncommon to have two or three boats finishing in close proximity. Results then have to be calculated and published.

For Craig this ends a busy, stressful but enjoyable day. “When the Race Management team have pulled off a great day’s racing, particularly on the hard, difficult days, it’s the same satisfaction you experience when you have a great day as a competitor. You come in feeling good about what you’ve done.”

The proof of success lies in the post-race atmosphere, as the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup community gather on Piazza Azzurra in front of the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda to discuss the day’s racing. There is evident camaraderie and shared respect, not just between competitors, but between competitors and the Race Management team too.

Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup

The Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup is organized by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda (YCCS) and the International Maxi Association (IMA). Rolex has been title sponsor since 1985.