Just like on day one, day two of the currently running Loro Piana Caribbean Superyacht Regatta & Rendezvous served up a real treat for the beautiful sailing superyachts participating, as well as for the spectators. Being hosted by the lovely Virgin yacht charter destination, the Caribbean regatta is organised by Boat International Media and Yacht Club Costa Smeralda.
‘I’d say this was the most exciting win of any we’ve ever had,’ enthuses Gerhard Andlinger, owner of the charter yacht P2, as he takes in the yacht’s victory in Class A on Oil Nut Bay Race Day. ‘It was gratifying, it was unexpected, and it was so dramatic.’
Although early morning rain squalls swept the YCCS Marina dock on Virgin Gorda, by the time the fleet had reached the starting area to the west of Necker Island, the breeze was blowing 14 knots and the skies had cleared a little. The race committee set a custom course for both classes – 28 miles for Class A, 23 miles for Class B – that would send the yachts round the Dog Islands, down to Ginger Island, and back up through the Dogs to the finish west of Necker.
With the rating band for medium wind and flat seas selected, the starting order was a little different today with the larger, heavier cruising yachts getting away first. It was the 59 metre giant charter yacht Seahawk that was first to cross, closely followed by sister Perini charter yacht Parsifal III before the two smallest boats in the fleet – the 22.4 metre sailing yacht Bolero and 24 metre sailing yacht Drumfire – made their getaways. The Perinis both headed left out into open water, while the smaller yachts headed right and inshore. At the top of the first leg – a beat to a laid windward mark – Seahawk was first to round, with Drumfire and Bolero rounding shortly after to split the two Perinis.
There was a lengthy gap to the next group of yachts, led by Swan 90 superyacht Freya and luxury yacht Cape Arrow rolling the Southern Wind superyacht Blues who couldn’t quite lay the mark and had to tack at the last minute. Shortly after, at the spreader mark, Cape Arrow made a call to gybe early, giving the first split of the downwind leg. The Royal Huisman superyacht Wisp and Vitters 55 metre ketch Marie continued their tussle from day one and rounded both marks with barely a couple of boat lengths separating them.
The long downwind leg gave the faster Class A yachts a chance to close the distances, while at the front of the pack Drumfire crept past Seahawk who had taken a long gybe out to the north. As the course tightened after rounding the Dogs, Drumfire pulled out her A3 kite on a shy reach in an attempt to fend off the now barrelling Seahawk. ‘We thought it was our secret weapon,’ smiles Jasper Emmer, Drumfire’s boat captain. However, despite their best attempts to hold position on the water, Seahawk proved too powerful and rolled Drumfire on the approach to the bottom mark. ‘The A3 stopped us losing more ground at least,’ Emmer continues. ‘It would have been a lot worse without it!’
Meanwhile, the Class A fleet – who were on a longer course running outside of Ginger Island – had started to compress, and as they turned for the final, long beat towards the finish it was Cape Arrow holding the lead with Freya right on her hip – and climbing above her.
By the time they were approaching the finish area, however, both P2 and yesterday’s winner, superyacht Inoui, had closed the gap. P2 made a bold call to tack off to the left and into clear air, and it paid dividends – when they tacked back in, they had stolen a march on the charging Inoui, who had in turn out-tacked Freya to challenge for the win.
On the line, it was as close as yesterday’s thrilling finish, with P2 claiming Class A honours by just 40 seconds over Inoui, who in turn claimed second from Freya by just 17 seconds. All six Class A yachts crossed the finish line within six minutes.
In Class B, Seahawk was unstoppable in the conditions and charged home to claim the win. Marie and Wisp continued their epic duel right to the end, with Marie eventually sneaking home in second just a minute and 39 seconds ahead of the 47 metre Royal Huisman sloop.
‘It doesn’t get any better than today,’ beams Dirk Johnson, navigator/tactician on Seahawk. ‘Today was the best. It was our day – the weather and the course were good to us, and there was a lot of reaching – we were doing 15.5 knots today!’
The win was particularly sweet for Seahawk after the yacht scored a DNF yesterday, retiring with rigging problems. ‘A half hour before the start we were at anchor, having been up all night replacing some rigging,’ Johnson explains. ‘We made the start with just 30 seconds to spare. There’s no better feeling than winning. The Seahawk team is happy today!’
For Gerhard Andlinger, happiness doesn’t quite seem enough to capture his reaction to today’s win. ‘If someone had said 20 minutes before the finish that we would win, I would have said it was impossible,’ he says. ‘The last 20 minutes is exactly where your heart speeds up. We were battling three boats but found an extra gear – in fact I’d say we won in the last two or three minutes. Yesterday the three fastest Class A yachts were 70 seconds apart, and today we saw the same kind of close, racing finish. The win today is very, very special. The crew is delighted, I am delighted, everyone is delighted!’
As the yacht owners and their guests head over to the exquisite Oil Nut Bay for tonight’s Black & White Hollywood Glamour Beach Party, all talk will be of the final day of racing tomorrow, Embraer Race Day. It’s tight at the top of Class A, with Inoui holding cumulative first place just one point ahead of P2, who in turn are just one point ahead of Freya. In Class B, Marie holds a two-point advantage over Wisp, with Drumfire currently lying third.