‘The last 20 minutes of the race is where your heart speeds up,’ enthuses Gerhard Andlinger, owner of the yacht P2. ‘If someone had said 20 minutes before the finish that we would win, I would have said it was impossible. We were battling three boats, but we found an extra gear – in fact, I’d say we won the race in the last three minutes.’ Yesterday’s nail-bitingly close finish in the first race of the Loro Piana Caribbean Superyacht Regatta in Virgin Gorda, BVI, was no fluke it seems. Today, with the ORCsy rating rule applied once again, the action on the water was intense, and the finish spectacular.
Despite a squally start to day two – Oil Nut Bay Race Day – when the fleet gathered in the starting area the breeze had settled to around 14 knots from the east, and the skies had started to clear. The race committee set a custom course – 28 miles for the Class A fleet and 23 miles for Class B – that would send the magnificent sailing superyachts round the Dog Islands and down to Ginger Island, with a long beat back through the Dogs to the finish west of Necker.
With the medium wind speed rating in effect, the 59 metre Perini Navi Seahawk was first to start, with her Perini sister Parsifal III following shortly after. Under the time-on-distance pursuit race format, the yachts start at calculated intervals, with the slowest going first and, theoretically, all yachts finish at the same time meaning whoever wins on the water wins the race.
By the time the yachts were part way down the first run to the Dogs, the 24 metre Truly Classic yacht Drumfire had pulled in the Perinis and was making a break for it, holding her lead all the way to the bottom mark where the power of Seahawk – gathering pace in the building breeze – showed through.
In the more performance-orientated Class A division, the Southern Wind Blues lost an early advantage when she couldn’t quite lay the windward mark and had to tack at the last minute, with Swan 90 Freya and Southern Wind Cape Arrow sneaking ahead. But by the turn at Ginger, the fleet had compressed.
On the final beat, Freya sat on Cape Arrow’s hip as the Perini P2 and Vitters yacht Inoui slowly reeled the leaders in. It all came down to some hard action in the last couple of miles, though – P2 tacked left into cleaner air, while Inoui gained a tactical jump on Freya. But when P2 came back into the pack, she had made good ground and crossed the finish line just 40 seconds ahead of Inoui, who beat Freya into third just 17 seconds behind.
In Class B, Seahawk proved unstoppable and she stretched away to a convincing win, with the 55 metre ketch Marie claiming second ahead of Huisman’s 47 metre Wisp.
It was a fitting win for Seahawk, who had had to retire on day one with rigging problems. ‘A half hour before the start we were at anchor having worked all night replacing some rigging,’ explains Dirk Johnson, the navigator/tactician on Seahawk. ‘We made our start with just 30 seconds to spare! It doesn’t get any better than today – today was the best. The Seahawk team is happy today!’
P2’s win means even more to her owner even than that. ‘Yesterday the three fastest yachts in Class A were just 70 seconds apart, and today was the same kind of racing finish,’ Andlinger continues. ‘The win is very, very special, and I’d say this was the most exciting win of any we’ve ever had.’
With one day of racing left, there is no obvious winner in either Class. In Class A, just two points separate the top three yachts, with Inoui holding the advantage over P2 and Freya respectively. In Class B, Marie holds on to top spot but both Wisp and Drumfire could upset Marie’s ambitions tomorrow.
Tonight, owners and their guests are enjoying the Hollywood Glamour Beach Party at the exquisite Oil Nut Bay. Tomorrow, Saturday 14 March, racing resumes at 1100 for Embraer Race Day – the final day of the regatta.
For a full breakdown of today’s results, current Class standings, galleries, daily videos, and to see the full race reports from the first two days of racing, head to the Loro Piana Caribbean Superyacht Regatta website.