Ganesha and Highland Fling victorious
By Tim Thomas, Editor of Boat International
Saturday 9 June, 2012 | Porto Cervo, Sardinia - Italy
The final day of the 2012 Loro Piana Superyacht Regatta, hosted by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda and organised by Boat International Media, had all the makings of being a classic. The top seven yachts in the Cruising division were separated by just four points, while a battle royale between Aegir and My Song in the Performance division looked inevitable on Fitzroy Race Day.
Stronger than forecast winds in the morning led to the race committee postponing from the original plan of getting racing underway at 1100, but as the afternoon began the call was made – the fleet of some of the finest sailing superyachts in the world would get to compete one last time. The committee selected an 18-mile course that would take the yachts south to Mortoriotto, round Soffi Island, and back up to the finish of Porto Cervo. Conditions remained changeable all around the course, with 50-degree wind shifts and wind speeds ranging from mid-teens round the back of Soffi Island to gusts of over 30 knots on the beat home.
For the Performance division, also competing for special prizes in Racer and Cruiser/Racer categories, the Swan Alpina chose not to start in the gusty conditions, but for the remaining yachts a classic start saw them abreast along the line. Highland Fling quickly stepped on the gas, opening out a four-minute delta at Mortoriotto, but for Aegir and My Song, it was a tooth-and-nail fight all the way round the course.
Aegir had the early advantage as My Song struggled on the first beat with a hastily repaired genoa, but My Song pulled back on the downwind leg after a gybing duel, and from then on held the slenderest of leads to the finish. It was classic match racing, as the two yachts traded tack for tack in the tricky conditions. It was My Song, however, that managed to hold the advantage, just 16 seconds separating the two teams at the finish.
‘It was quite an interesting day,’ said Aegir’s owner Brian Benjamin, with classic understatement, after racing. ‘We almost overtook My Song five or six times – it was really good fun, and we gave them a huge cheer when we’d finished. We had a lot of fun today.’
‘Today started on a bit of a low,’ said Tommaso Chieffi, calling tactics on My Song, ‘as we had a problem with the genoa, but one of the crew managed to fix a strop so we were able to race, but with a sail shape that was not perfect. We were slightly quicker downwind than Aegir, and once we overtook them we had to keep them at bay. It became a classic match race, with using the starboard advantage and the island to keep them behind. We were very lucky to have another boat which has similar performance in 15-20 knots of wind, and we were very happy to have the chance to race them.’
For the Cruising division, the staggered, two-minute start times probably ended up favouring those started early in the sequence – the wind shifts on the run down to Mortoriotto meant that the later starters couldn’t hold their kites as long as the reach got tighter and tighter. By the time they rounded Mortoriotto, first starter Ganesha had pulled out a delta of around three minutes over second rounder Scorpione Dei Mari – a critical gap, as these two yachts were fighting for the overall victory with just one point between them. Third down to the rock was Moonbird, after whom there was a significant gap to the next cluster of yachts.
It was quickly evident that the Southern Wind L’Ondine was having a cracking race, which would in itself cause a potential upset in the Southern Wind fleet, competing here also for the biennial Southern Wind Shipyard Trophy. Wednesday’s Cruising division winner Kiboko, another Southern Wind, was looking to build on her bullet, although a broken headsail on the final beat put paid to her chances, and she finished bareheaded in ninth.
The other big winner today was the 45m Fitzroy Salperton, which stormed through the fleet with Olympic gold medallist Shirley Robertson at the helm to take second today, and third overall in the Cruising division. ‘We had a great day,’ said Cameron Appleton, who was calling tactics on the yacht. ‘The guys did a really good job getting the sails up and down. We played it right, with good timing on the call for the drop coming into Mortoriotto. Manoeuvres were the only area we could make up the time difference to some of the other yachts. We are pleased – it’s a fantastic result for Salperton and for her owner, and a perfect way to end the week.’
In the Southern Wind fleet, a change-around once again in the finishing positions meant that the 30.2m Cape Arrow, who finished second of the Southern Winds and fifth in the Cruising class today, secured overall victory in the SWS Trophy thanks to a consistent performance throughout the week. ‘We had a very good week,’ smiled one of her team members, ‘and the crew had only had one day of training before the event! We are very happy, and we met lots of great people – it was a fun week.’
At the front of the fleet, Scorpione Dei Mari was desperately trying to make up ground on Ganesha and secure the class victory, but it was not to be. ‘We sailed to the maximum today,’ said her owner after racing, ‘and we couldn’t have done any more.’
For Ganesha, conditions today were perfect for the yacht although nothing, of course, is a given in racing. ‘We sailed the boat pretty well today, and the owner drove the boat very nicely,’ beamed her tactician, Jens Christensen. ‘The wind was up and down and very shifty – we saw it swing between 257 degrees and 305 degrees! The owner did a very nice job, and it’s a good crew – they all know the boat. I must also say that Peter Craig (Principle Race Officer) and the race officers were stubborn today to stay out there, and they did a really good job.’
Rodney Martin, managing director of Fitzroy Yachts, was racing aboard Salperton for the week, and summed up the day’s racing perfectly. ‘I was pleased to see Salperton come in second today,’ he commented, ‘and it was good to see all the boats out there – there were big breezes, and no problems. The crews were doing a fantastic job – we saw 30 knots, and it was good to see the yachts racing safely and having good fun. It was also good to have three Fitzroy yachts here, and to have two of them finish first and third overall!’
At the prize giving ceremony, attended by HH The Aga Khan, the various trophies and silverware were awarded to the victors.
For media inquiries and further information about the Loro Piana Superyacht Regatta, please contact:
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