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Big Boats Dominating at Maxi Europeans in Bay of Naples

18th May 2022
Highland Fling XI won her class on Wednesday despite not being optimised for windward-leewards
Highland Fling XI won her class on Wednesday despite not being optimised for windward-leewards. Credit: IMA / Studio Borlenghi

Scheduled for day two of the IMA Maxi Europeans’ inshore/coastal racing were two windward-leewards. After a delay out on the Bay of Naples, the wind finally built to 8-12 knots from the west. After one aborted start due to a wind shift and another for a general recall, racing for the 21 maxis eventually got underway at 1515 CEST.

With the 2.1 mile course set to the north of Capri, the lead trio of Lord Irvine Laidlaw’s Reichel/Pugh 82 Highland Fling XI, Sir Peter Ogden’s JV77 Jethou and Peter Dubens JV72 North Star remained in close contact. Today Highland Fling XI was able to gain enough of a lead to claim Class 1. According to Xavier Mecoy, Laidlaw’s long term team manager, this was far from expected: “We were really surprised because this isn’t a windward-leeward boat. It is much more of a course racing boat. This regatta is the first time we have raced against boats like Jethou and North Star and I had not expected to do as nearly well as we did. So it is very encouraging. The boat is an old girl, but she’s on fire. We did some quick hoists and great takedowns and even better is to win with a 2% penalty because we don’t have the owner on board.”

Terry Hui's Lyra the present overall leader of the IMA Maxi EuropeansTerry Hui's Lyra the present overall leader of the IMA Maxi Europeans Photo: Studio Borlenghi

Surprisingly, given how long the Highland Fling sailing campaigns have been running and their international nature, this is the team’s first time to Sorrento or Capri. Mecoy added how he was impressed with how the race organisers had set up the entire infrastructure in Sorrento’s Marina Piccola, including the installation of a pontoon system, to berth the IMA Maxi European Championship fleet.

The big boats are still dominating the overall results at the IMA Maxi Europeans with North Star leading and Jethou third.

Sir Peter Ogden's Jethou to leeward at today's one and only startSir Peter Ogden's Jethou to leeward at today's one and only start. Photo: IMA / Studio Borlenghi

While in Class 4, Giuseppe Puttini’s Swan 65 ketch Shirlaf scored her second bullet, in Class 3 it was the turn of regular Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup class winner H20, Riccardo De Michele’s striking silver Vallicelli 78, to beat IMA President Benoît de Froidmont’s Wally 60 Wallyño by two and a half minutes under IRC corrected time. However Wallyño continues to excel in the overall results here, holding fourth place.

H2O started well, but in the single mass start being used at this event, they got caught up with some of the faster boats sailing different angles to them, explained tactician Lorenzo Bodini: “We decided to stay on the left even if I knew there was more pressure on the right, because at least we were in clear air. [At the top] we arrived just behind the fleet, which was good for us because we didn’t want to be in traffic. We sailed well downwind and then I could go completely right on the second upwind and got a really good layline, reaching the mark in one tack.”

That H20 did well in the light conditions was unusual, because the large futuristic-looking cruising yacht prefers at least 13 knots.

Leading overall at present was today’s Class 2 winner for a second consecutive day, Terry Hui’s all-black Wally 77 Lyra. Tactician Mitch Booth explained their race: “We saw that it was very unstable and there were big bits of pressure on the course - so we just focussed on that, keeping in clean air. We went left up the first beat, but not all the way as there was a big rightie at the end, so we were lucky enough to cross over early to get into that.”

Remarkably Lyra still managed to win, despite blowing up a spinnaker after it snagged on a spreader tip. Booth continued: “The guys did a great job and we minimised the loss and got another one up. They sailed really well.”

The wind on the Bay of Naples subsequently veered into the north and then the northeast and built rapidly into the mid-20s but after one attempt to get a second windward-leeward away, the wind had moved too far right to lay a good course and with the hour getting on the fleet was sent home.

Racing at the IMA Maxi European Championship continues tomorrow and runs until Friday May 20. It began on Saturday with its offshore component the Regata dei Tre Golfi followed by coastal racing on the Bay of Naples and around Capri in the Maxi Yacht Sorrento Trophy. The IMA Maxi Europeans forms part of the larger Tre Golfi Sailing Week.

Full overall results here

Published in Superyachts
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