Just finished racing in the Rolex Maxi Regatta in Sardinia Italy on the RP 82 Highland Fling. Sardinia offered up the usual mix of conditions with winds between 0 and 18 knots. It also provided some beautiful sailing amongst the hundreds of rocks and islands around the Porto Cervo area where the racing is based out of.
All the boats are divided into four different divisions and we were in the Maxi Racing class. Our toughest competitors were Esmit Europa, a RP 100 with a canting keel, and the 135 foot J boat Valsheda. Comparing our boat to these, we are a very wide bodied hull which has great stability and does best in 20+ knot winds. Esmit Europa is narrow with a very tall rig and excells in under 12, while Valsheda loves the 10-20 knot wind range.
So with the 0-18 winds that we had all week, it tended to favor either one of our competitors, but never us. Each day one of them would win, we would come second, and the other third. Our score line at the end of the regatta was 2,2,2,2. Theirs was 1,3,1,3 and 3,1,3,1. And the final result was a three way tie for first, each of us with eight points. Unfortunately for us the tie break system went their way, so Esmit Europa wins, Valsheda second, and us third. Bugger! But personally, I score us as tied for first!
A couple highlights of the week was race one when we were 3 minutes from the finish and hit an unmarked rock at full speed, taking us from 13 knots to 0, sending crew flying, losing one wheel and all hydraulics, and taking a huge chunk of lead out of our keel. We limped across the line at half speed, and still beat Esmit by 14 seconds. Luckily racing was canceled the next day for high winds and sea and we were able to lift the boat out by crane in the main port of Olbia and work through the night repairing the keel in time for race two.
Our second highlight of the week was catching a tow in the wake of the 200+ foot Hetarios as they passed near us in race 3. We were reaching along at a good clip and as they passed below us we turned down to surf their wake. Our boat did beautifully, accelerating quickly and jumping to 20knots as we scooted along behind this bigger and faster moving yacht, tucked in and surfing in and out of their wake, spray flying, doing their faster speed for about five minutes.
The final highlight was just after this tow as we set the A4 spinnaker for a fast ride downwind. Everyone was just getting sorted when the jammer holding the forward corner of the sail failed and the sail went sideways, rather than in front of us. The boat was immediately thrown on it’s side, sails in the water, until the wind went from the sails and the lead keel brings the boat back upright. Nobody hurt or lost overboard, so sheet back on and take off again at full pace. A media helicopter just happened to be following us at the time, so this pretty spectacular wipe out was plastered everywhere by that evening.
So another great week of racing in Sardina which is one of the most beautiful and challenging places to sail in the world. Add in the great food we enjoyed all week and the friendly Italian people, and it’s easy to see why it’s so popular.
I am now in route directly to my next event, the Farr 40 Worlds in Chicago. I have five events in a row on this trip and it will be eight weeks before I return home, so as much as I love what I do for a living, I will be ready for a little break when it’s over.
Ciao, from 30,000 feet.