In a gentler, flukier wind than has yet been experienced at the Loro Piana Superyacht Regatta 2017 on Sardinia’s Costa Smeralda the biggest yachts, Saudade and Open Season, won their respective Superyacht and Wally divisions and so each enhanced their chances of defending the class titles they each won here last year. You can catch up on all the action from the event, which is organised by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda (YCCS) and Boat International Media, with our highlights video below.
Starting smartly off the left end of the start line Open Season - the Wally 107 which has Jochen Schümann as owner-helm - was able to establish a small lead on the first short upwind leg which she was able to extend just enough to hold her time over rivals Galateia and Magic Carpet 3, which took second and third respectively.
“It was a bit of a rich get richer situation. The breeze was moving around a bit and Open Season just got away. After that there was not much we could do to get back at them,” said Ian Walker, tactician on the Magic Carpet 3. “The main thing for us was getting third place today which was vital and gives us the lead going into the final day.”
Magic Carpet 3 goes into the last race with a margin of three points over Lyra, which slipped off the top of the class with a disappointing sixth. Even after her win today last year’s victor Open Season is still anchored to eighth overall, heavily ballasted down by her retirement on day one because of a course infringement, sailing up through the finish line on the last short beat before turning for the reciprocal downwind sprint to the line.
“Usually we do very well when the wind is shifting around and that is how it was today,” Open Season’s owner remarked. “We had the perfect start. All the boats to the right of us had trouble and from there on we felt like we had the perfect race. And when we have the perfect race we are very hard to beat.”
In the fickle breeze, which moved around in direction between 30 and 50 degrees at various times during the opening leg, there was a certain amount of luck as well as good judgement required. Thereafter on the short 16.9 mile course, which went to the Monaci rocks before tightly reaching down to Secca Tre Monti, there were not too many obvious tactical passing opportunities available, save on the slightly brisker beat out of ‘bomb alley’ around Capo Ferro.
Sailing in the best of the shifty, unsettled 6-7 knot breeze on that opening short leg also proved crucial to the first win this regatta for Saudade. Victory today keeps last year’s overall winner in close contention to make it three titles in succession but the Saudade crew, which sails under tactician Bouwe Bekking, will need to beat overall leaders Ribelle.
Saudade made no mistakes, focusing on keeping fast and changing gears as the breeze rose slightly and fell away around the course. Tactician Bekking admits they were a little fortunate in the timing on their upwind leg but after that they, like Open Season, were able to sail their own race and save their time after correction. They go into the final day one point behind Ribelle, which has Francesco de Angelis steering and Luis Doreste making the tactical calls. However, with a six or seven point gap separating the top three from fourth it is looking very much like a three cornered fight for the overall win tomorrow, when the winds are forecast to remain modest.
When they won last year Saudade’s owner, who has been racing regularly on the Costa Smeralda for 17 years, admitted it was his dream to win two Loro Piana Superyacht Regattas back to back. Having achieved that he will not be drawn on their chances of three in a row, “Nobody knows. We will just have to see what tomorrow brings. We had a lot of luck and no misunderstandings today and that made the difference.”
After another brilliant day of regatta action, owners, guests and crew were looking forward to the Sunset Party at Phi Beach which promised a chance for everyone to let their hair down before the final day of racing.
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