Blue skies may have greeted the fleet of 21 sailing superyachts gathered in Porto Cervo for the 2013 edition of the Loro Piana Superyacht Regatta, but unlike the sun the wind appeared a little more reluctant to get up on Wednesday morning. The fleet – which ranges in size from 24m yachts Drumfire and Virtuelle to 49.7m Zefira, and in style from modern classics and yawls to contemporary supersloops – stayed tied to the Porto Cervo Marina docks near the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda clubhouse for a short postponement until the wind slowly began to fill in.
As the breeze began to build, the race committee set the first warning signal for 1300 local time, and selected three courses – one for each of the three cruising classes - which followed approximately the same track: a short beat to a windward laid mark, then a fetch to Mortoriotto, a long run to Monaci and a near-beat back to the finish. The courses varied in length from 23 to 29 nautical miles, but would ensure that the fleet slowly compressed making for a spectacular sight off Porto Cervo.
The 24m Hoek-designed Drumfire held the early advantage, rounding Isola Mortoriotto first, followed by Bequia and Virtuelle, but by Monaci at the end of the run, Virtuelle had powered to the front and dowsed her spinnaker some six minutes ahead of the largest boat in the fleet, Zefira. As the yachts closed on the finish, it was the 30m Oyster Sarafin that came through for line honours, but the big battle was an epic duel between Zefira and Loro Piana Caribbean regatta winner Salperton. Salperton just snuck over the line ahead of Zefira, but lost out to Zefira by just 10 seconds on corrected time.
With the provisional results in, the 25.4m My Song took first place in Class A, with Virtuelle securing the bullet in Class B and Bequia taking Class C. 'We got a good start, and did well at the bottom rounding at Monaci,' said Seamas Meharg, Bequia's boat capain. 'We ducked Zefira's stern and managed to get inside her, staying close to the rocks.'
Zefira's victory over Salperton was rewarded with a second place in Class B. 'We tried hard,' explained her delighted captain, Federico Biaturri. 'We were a bit slow on one gybe and had to tack to avoid Visione near the end, but it was a great race.'
'Our first surprise was coming first,' said David Miroux, captain of Virtuelle. 'We didn't really do anything wrong today and sailed our best, and we perhaps had the advantage that we were able to overtake the slower yachts and get into clean air.'
Racing continues on Thursday with the first start for Race 2 scheduled for 1200 local time – wind willing!