Perfect conditions greeted the fleet of 20 sailing superyachts on Thursday as Day One of the Loro Piana Superyacht Regatta & Rendezvous – organised by Boat International Media with the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda – got underway in earnest.
A breeze of between 13 and 17 knots from the southeast made for an easy call by the race committee, who chose to send the yachts – which range from the 24.4m Swan Selene to the 55m ketch Maria, 57m Royal Huisman Twizzle, 60m Perini Navi Seahawk and mighty 66m Baltic-built Hetairos – clockwise around Virgin Gorda. The slower Class C yachts would round the western corner of the island at Round Rock, with the faster Class A an B yachts heading a bit further to round Ginger Island before beating back to the finish west of Necker Island.
The first beat gave the yachts opportunities for early gains in a couple of slight shifts, while the long one-gybe kite run round the south of Virgin Gorda meant the fleet could really stretch legs and enjoy the gorgeous conditions and scenery.
By the time the Class C yachts had reached Round Rock, it was the 37m Moonbird – helmed by Olympic gold medallist Shirley Robertson – that held a three-minute advantage on the water ahead of Oyster 100 Sarafin and the stunning modern classic Tempus Fugit.
For the Class A and B yachts, the chase was on as Marie droped her kite first to round Ginger, hotly pursued by a flying Nilaya – the 34m Baltic – which took an inside lane to sneak ahead on the water. As the fleet compressed, there was some close action on the water and several changes of position as the yachts beat up towards the finish west of Necker Island.
A battle of the Baltics developed for line honours at the end of the final leg, with Hetairos rolling the 34m Nilaya shortly before the line. On corrected time, however, Nilaya scored the bullet. ‘We had a good race, and didn’t make a lot of mistakes,’ beamed her owner, Filip Balcaen. ‘It’s fantastic here, this is a sailor’s paradise. You have good wind, you have very nice surroundings, you have the nice club and good organisation – just what we are looking for. We had a beautiful day.’
Class B was taken by the Swan 90 Freya, while Class C victory went to the J Class-inspired modern classic Tempus Fugit, designed by Rob Humphreys and built by the Arkin Pruva yard. ‘We’re over the moon,’ beamed Erbil Arkin, the yacht’s owner. ‘I’m loving it here! The plan for tomorrow is to keep it going as we have with the enthusiasm we have. What I think is great here is that you can party but also be serious about the sport, which is lovely – all round, you’re living a great week at this regatta.’
Tonight the owners and their guests will enjoy the hospitality of the YCCS at the Loro Piana Owners’ Dinner, while the crews will be battling hard again – although this time in a tug of war at the crew party at Sandbox on Prickly Pear, sponsored by Caso de Campo Marina and the British Virgin Islands.
For the full race report, current standings and for more images and video of Thursday’s action on the water, head to the Loro Piana Caribbean Superyacht Regatta & Rendezvous website.