A steady 20-knot breeze blowing in from the east greeted the sailing superyachts and motor yachts gathered at the YCCS Marina in the fabulous Virgin Gorda yacht charter destination for the Loro Piana Caribbean Superyacht Regatta & Rendezvous 2015, hosted by Boat International Media and Yacht Club Costa Smeralda. The owners, their guests and crews of the diverse fleet – which ranges from the 22,4m yawl Bolero to the impressive 58,6m Perini Navi charter yacht Seahawk – were buzzing with anticipation at the prospect of classic racing in the British Virgin Islands.
‘The weather looks perfect,’ says enthused principle race officer Peter Craig. ‘We’ve got 17 to 22 knots of breeze from the east and a whole bunch of superyachts – it’s as good as it gets!’ With the wind forecast to be consistent until the weekend, conditions should remain ideal for the regatta, which should also make for spectacular viewing for the motor yacht fleet.
There are some familiar faces among the yachts – superyacht Ganesha, charter yacht P2, luxury yacht Cape Arrow, charter yacht Parsifal III, super yacht Inoui and Bolero, for example are all previous racers in the regatta – but for some this will be their first experience. Among the newcomers is Royal Huisman’s 47.65m sailing yacht Wisp, whose stunning lines will make for a beautiful sight on the race course.
The regatta also marks the debut for a new superyacht rating rule. Conceived and refined by the Offshore Racing Congress (ORC), the ORCsy rule combines a sophisticated velocity prediction element with ‘dynamic allowances’ – essentially meaning that allowances are made for yachts that, for example, take longer to tack because they have to furl away their headsails. Each yacht receives a number of ratings covering different wind strengths and sea states to ensure as close and fair racing as possible – no mean feat given the enormous differences between sailing superyachts.
‘The great thing about the new rule,’ said Bruno Finzi, chairman of ORC, ‘is that it is transparent, so each owner can see how the data has been treated and can compare his yacht to all the others.’
The new rating system is not the only change to the racing this year – after feedback from yacht owners, the usual staggered start will be replaced with Time On Distance racing. In this pursuit format, the slowest yacht starts first and the rest follow at timed intervals that match their rating, so that, theoretically, if sailed equally all yachts would finish at the same time. It makes for exciting racing as every yacht can see how it is doing on the water against its competitors, and the first over the finish line is the winner.
Racing begins today, Thursday 12 March, with the first start at 11:00am local time.