Day 1 of this year’s Loro Piana Superyacht Regatta saw the sun rise early on Wednesday morning, June 5, to greet the 21 sailing superyachts, participating in this popular race. Organised by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda (YCCS) as well as Boat International Media, the event, hosted at the YCCS in the popular Italian yacht charter destination – Porto Cervo, marks the start of the Mediterranean regatta season.
The diverse fleet, ranging from the 24m Starck-styled sailing yacht Virtuelle and Hoek-designed luxury yacht Drumfire to 45m regatta regulars charter yacht Salperton IV and superyacht Saudade, and 49.7m Zefira yacht, were looking forward to racing getting underway in earnest. The fleet, which is racing under the International Super Yacht Rule (ISYR), covers a broad spectrum of superyachts, from modern classics to ocean thoroughbreds, sloops to yawls, and pure cruising yachts to those with a more performance orientated design.
The 21 yachts have been divided into three equal cruising divisions – A to C – according to their ratings, and each yacht has three ratings that can be applied depending on the windspeed on the course.
After a brief postponement the breeze filled in to around eight knots, and the patience of the yacht owners and crews was rewarded as the race committee set three courses of roughly 29, 25 and 23 nautical miles for class A to C respectively. The three courses followed roughly the same track – a short beat to a laid mark, followed by a fetch to the Mortorio islands, then a long run to Monaci, a short dog leg to the south of Caprera and then home to the finish off Porto Cervo.
By the time the fleet got to the famous Monaci rocks at the end of the run, luxury yacht Virtuelle had powered into the lead on the water, rounding the rocks and dowsing her spinnaker nearly six minutes ahead of the second yacht, 49.7m superyacht Zefira. The rest of the yachts came round in tight formation, making for a spectacular sight as the faster yachts such as 30.3m Southern Wind sailing yacht Cape Arrow began to haul in the slower yachts.
The 30.8m Oyster yacht Sarafin snuck through to take line honours for Race One, closely followed by Bequia yacht, Drumfire and the sleek 45m Baltic Yachts-built superyacht Visione. Of course, it is the corrected time that counts, and the provisional results showed that in Cruising Class A the 25.4m yacht My Song – owned by Pier-Luigi Loro Piana – had won through; Virtuelle held on to take Class B on corrected, while Bequia took the win in Class C.
‘It looks like it’s going to be a light regatta,’ said Seamas Meharg, boat captain and safety officer of Bequia yacht. ‘The lighter airs and flatter water are good for us, and today’s long downwind leg was also beneficial. We got a good start, and did well at the bottom rounding at Monaci – we ducked Zefira’s stern and managed to get inside her, staying close in to the rocks.’ Meharg will be hoping that the forecast light airs continue. ‘We’re keeping an eye on Drumfire,’ he continued, ‘and there might be a little more breeze tomorrow, but if we can hold on tomorrow we might be looking good…’
For Zefira yacht, today’s second place in Class B was a strong result – not least because she beat arch-rival charter yacht Salperton by just 10 seconds on corrected time after an epic battle that played out round nearly the whole racecourse. ‘We tried hard,’ her delighted captain, Federico Biaturri, smiled on the dock. ‘We were a bit slow on one gybe and had to tack to avoid Visione near the end which allowed Salperton to sneak over the line ahead of us, but it was a great race and we’ve been getting better and better since the start of the Dubois Cup last weekend. The owners are very happy!’
The close-fought battle with Salperton is a fine demonstration of just how accurate the ISYR rating system is getting. ‘The handicaps are getting better and better all the time,’ Biaturri commented. ‘It shows in our battle with Salperton – it’s very close and it’s just going to get better and better from here.’
Racing continues tomorrow with the first start scheduled at 12:00 and scirocco winds of 10-12 knots forecast.