Main photo: The two J Class yachts, Velsheda and Topaz, racing at the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup 2021. Photo Carlo Borlenghi.

Porto Cervo, 9 September 2021. Day four of racing at the 31st Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, organised by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda with the support of title sponsor Rolex and the International Maxi Association.

After four days of intense racing the provisional classification sees Velsheda, Magic Carpet 3, Cannonball, Capricorn and Lyra at the top of their respective divisions. A lay day is scheduled for tomorrow.

The Race Committee’s decision to move the rest day to tomorrow proved to be the right one, as all divisions were able to race in perfect conditions, with an east-southeast wind of 15 to 18 knots, ideal for coaxing top performances from these maxi yachts.

First off the starting line were the yachts of the Maxi division, for whom the Race Committee designed a course of approximately 34 miles, which, after a 3-mile technical upwind leg, brought the fleet south to round the islands of Mortorio and Soffi, before heading back upwind to the Bisce Pass and rounding the La Maddalena and Caprera islands clockwise, with an upwind finish at the Monaci islet. Next up were the Supermaxi and Mini Maxi 2, 3 and 4 divisions, with a course of approximately 30 miles, differing from the Maxi’s course at the Secca Tre Monti shallows, where the fleet turned up to Monaci and returned to Porto Cervo. The Mini Maxi 1 fleet completed two windward-leeward races, with crews busy on manoeuvres and tacticians equally busy interpreting the shifts in the breeze.

The 115-foot Supermaxi Shamanna was first in real time in her division, but as always the battle between the two J Class yachts came down to seconds, and the pair crossed the line almost simultaneously after 30 miles of racing. This time it was Topaz to come out on top in compensated time, helmed by Peter Holmberg and with Francesco de Angelis calling tactics, interrupting Velsheda’s winning streak by just 16 seconds, Geist took third place and Shamanna fourth. Velsheda continues to lead the overall provisional classification ahead of Topaz and Geist.

The Maxi fleet displayed their full potential for speed, especially on the beam reach between Li Nibani and the entrance to the Bisce Pass. The application of corrected time saw the top spots for the day go to the two Wallycentos Galateia and Magic Carpet 3 respectively, followed by the pure racer Rambler 88. The overall classification has seen a reshuffle in this division, with Magic Carpet 3, owned by Sir Lindsay Owen Jones and with Jochen Schueman calling tactics, now sitting in first place ahead of Y3K, fourth today. Galateia moves up to third place in the provisional overall standings, while Highland Fling XI drops back to fourth place due to a withdrawal for technical problems. The team is determined to get the repair done in time to take part in the final race on Saturday 11 September.

Stars of the show in today’s two races for the Mini Maxi 1 yachts, on a windward-leeward course of 2.3 miles per leg, were Proteus (1-2) and Vesper (3-1) with a win each, followed by Bellamente (2-4) and Cannonball (4-3). Cannonball continues lead the overall classification, but with a delta now reduced to two points ahead of Vesper and three ahead of Proteus and Bellamente – who sit on equal points.

In the Mini Maxi 2 Division, Luciano Gandini’s Twin Soul B added another victory to yesterday’s in an excellent race right from the off, with a powerful and perfectly timed start on the pin end. Twin Soul B took the win in both real and compensated time, followed by Capricorn, while third place today went to Fra’ Diavolo, owned by Vincenzo Addessi. Capricorn maintains the overall leadership in the class ahead of Twin Soul B and Lorina 1895.
The Wally Lyra, with tactician Hamish Pepper, continued her golden run of four consecutive victories in the Mini Maxi 3-4 class, and was followed today by Riccardo De Michele’s H2O, tactician Lorenzo Bodini, and Luca Scoppa’s Blue Oyster with Roberto Ferrarese on tactics. Naturally Lyra also heads the provisional overall ranking, followed by Blue Oyster and H2O.

Francesco De Angelis, tactician of the J Class Topaz: “It was a beautiful race today, especially if you think about the length of the course and the fact that we were side by side the whole time with Velsheda, a reference boat for the J Class. Every day we try to improve, taking it one step further, and today we are happy to have managed to win the coastal race, crossing the finish line a few seconds from Velsheda.”
Gavin Brady, tactician of the Maxi72 Vesper: “It’s a venue that you really need to get comfortable with and I felt maybe with the coastal race up until this morning we haven’t really felt that comfortable out there with the shifts and the local knowledge, particularly Cannonball has been doing a good job, but today was a more classical windward-leeward and that could have been anywhere in the world. So when you’re doing the windward-leeward racing it takes some of the local knowledge out of it, so I think that was good for us today and it was just really nice to win that last race, and if you can win the race before the lay day it’s even better!” 

Friday 10 September, will be a lay day. The 31st Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup will conclude on Saturday 11th, with coastal races scheduled for all divisions.

Cannonball leading the Mini Maxi 1 fleet, and leader of the provisional general classification, Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup 2021 Photo by Carlo Borlenghi
Cannonball leading the Mini Maxi 1 fleet, and leader of the provisional general classification, Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup 2021. Photo by Carlo Borlenghi