Photos by Kurt Arrigo & Daniel Forster / Rolex
The 19th edition of the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, organized by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda in Porto Cervo, concluded Saturday with the announcement of the winners based on the prior day’s overall results. The Race Committee and the 40 competing Maxi yachts waited and prayed to the wind Gods on the waters off Sardinia’s Costa Smeralda until 1:45, but the light and shifty breezes failed to reach more than an average of two knots of intensity and the Race Committee was forced to abandon racing for the day.
Overall victory therefore went to George David’s (Hartford, Conn.) Rambler, Ernesto Bertarelli’s (SUI) chartered U.S. boat Numbers, John Williams' (Atlanta, Ga.) Ranger and Lindsay Owen Jones’ (GBR) Magic Carpet2 in the Racing, Mini Maxi, Cruising and Wally divisions, respectively.
With Rambler and Alfa Romeo 3 the only competitors in the Racing division, the four days saw a constant leap-frogging between the two with the last to win taking control of the overall classification. Alfa Romeo owner Neville Crichton had confided in today’s race as his last chance to seize victory but instead saw Rambler, with America’s Cup strategist Ray Davies (NZL) on board, take the top spot.
“The team feels great,” said Davies. "There were a couple of breakdowns on Alfa, and that really was in our favour obviously, but aside from the lucky breaks, the team sailed really well all week, and on behalf of George David, he’s really proud of the guys."
"Porto Cervo is a fantastic venue, you can’t beat it – the absolute top-notch level venue. Racing around those islands, and up through bomb alley, and all of those boats. We started in the back of the fleet and had to sail through the J-boats and Wallys – it was probably the highlight of the week.”
“It has been a really fun event for me,” commented Crichton, who had assistance from GBR's 2008 Olympic Finn Gold Medalist Ben Ainslie and several crew from the Ericsson Volvo Ocean Race team. “It’s a pity we didn’t have a chance to catch up on Rambler but that’s the way it goes. I am really pleased with the new Alfa Romeo 3 (Crichton's other boat entered in the Mini Maxi division), however. Only 15 days after being launched she showed that she is a very fast boat and one which will be very competitive next year.”
Alfa Romeo 3, with Brazil’s five-time Olympic medalist Torben Grael at the helm, came in fourth in the Mini Maxi division while Bertarelli’s Numbers, whose crew included Ed Baird (St. Petersburg, Fla.), Brad Butterworth (NZL) and most of the America’s Cup-winning Alinghi team, dominated from the beginning and finished with a five point delta over second placed Rosebud/Team DYT, owned by Roger Sturgeon (Hyannis, Mass./Ft. Lauderdale Fla.). Among the stars sailing with Sturgeon, who won the 2007 Rolex Sydney Hobart Race with the same boat, was former Shosholoza helmsman Tommaso Chieffi (ITA), Malcolm Park (Santa Cruz, Calif.), Justin “Juggy” Clougher (Newport, R.I.) and Sturgeon’s wife Isobel. Jim Swartz’s (Edgartown, Mass.) Moneypenny, with an impressive American crew that included America’s Cup and Volvo Ocean Race veteran Paul Cayard (Kentfield, Calif.), took third place.
“Having one day in the week like this is not a problem after the days we’ve had,” said Bertarelli about Saturday’s cancellation. “ It’s a shame it’s the last day because some classes still had some close racing that needed to be resolved, but overall it has been a fantastic week of sailing, no question about it.”
He was suitably pleased with the performance of the crew and the boat: “It’s a crew that works like a Swiss watch, so it’s on time in the manoeuvres and the trimming is precise. It’s fun. We are very proud of the design of the boat. Rolf (Vrolijk) is our head designer for Alinghi and a lot of the things we learned with Alinghi in the last America’s Cup have been introduced on this boat and the results show on the water. We were out to have some fun and we had great racing with very strong winds the previous few days, so overall no regrets, fantastic sailing, a good result – I can’t ask for anything more!”
Ranger, the 135’ historic replica of Harold S. Vanderbilt’s J Class yacht that won the 1937 America’s Cup, stormed to victory in the Cruising class with a clean run of bullets and an 11 point advantage over second-placed Hetairos (GER). Velsheda (GBR), the other competing J Class boat, took third place.
In the Wally class, which had eight competing yachts, L’Oreal President Lindsay Owen-Jones took first place with his Magic Carpet 2 (GBR) ahead of Irvine Laidlaw’s (GBR) Highland Fling X and Thomas Bscher’s (GER) Open Season. The final overall classification shows just how close competition was in this division with only two points separating the top four boats.
Each of the division winners was presented with a trophy and a Rolex Yachtmaster Timepiece at the prize giving ceremony attended by YCCS President His Highness the Aga Khan and Rolex CEO Patrick Heiniger.
Top-class racing continues at the YCCS next week with the Rolex Swan Cup in program from 8th to 14th September.