Superyachts battle it out on Day Two of Caribbean regatta
by Tim Thomas
Lighter winds on Race Day Two of the Loro Piana Caribbean Superyacht Regatta & Rendezvous made for a more tactical race as the fleet of 20 sailing superyachts enjoyed another sparkling day in the waters off Virgin Gorda, BVI. Early morning showers gave way to sunshine and blue skies, and breezes of eight to 10 knots led the race committee to select a custom course.
A laid mark to windward followed by a reacher mark set the fleet on its way, with a tricky near-figure of eight course through the Dog Islands giving tacticians and crews alike an opportunity to make big gains – or big losses.
In Division B, it was the the 32m Dykstra-designed modern classic Carl Linne that took an early advantage, jumping from third in the staggered start sequence to first at the windward mark – a lead she would hold for more than two thirds of the racecourse.
In the faster Division A class, which headed to a windward mark a half mile further upwind than the Division B yachts, the Southern Wind Cape Arrow – with Pier-Luigi Loro Piana onboard – revelled in the lighter conditions and surged to an early advantage. Third round the mark was the 34m Unfurled who, unfortunately, snagged the line of the buoy and dragged it 40 metres before it finally freed itself.
By the time the fleet had rounded the reacher mark, there was already a degree of compression, further compounded by the flukey winds off Dog Island. Here was a point at which yachts could really make a move, with a tricky decision on whether to stay close and take a shorter line but risk losing the wind, or stand off a little further for better wind but a longer course. In Division B, the Oyster 100 Sarafin finally hauled in Carl Linne by sneaking up the inside, while in Division A a ding-dong battle between the magnificent Js Hanuman and Endeavour nearly came to a head – Hanuman held a slight advantage at the island, but a backed headsail close in cost her valuable time as Endeavour surged up from behind.
The final beat to the finish saw huge fleet compression making for a spectacular sight as the smallest yachts in the fleet such as the 23.5m Wild Horses battled with the largest in the form of 62m schooner Athos and 54m Parsifal III.
When the results came in it was clear that the lighter airs had favoured the performance yachts in Division A, with Hanuman taking overall Division A victory over last year's winner Indio. In the cruising class of Division A it was Cape Arrow that scored the bullet, followed by the Perini P2 and Salperton IV – a solid result for the 45m Fitzroy yacht after taking the win on Day One.
In Division B the classic yacht Bolero came through for a great win, followed by a second successive second place finish for the mighty Athos and a solid third for Carl Linne.
'We had a great day,' beamed Marty and Ed Kane, owners of Bolero. 'There were a couple of areas of light wind that we thought were costing us more than they actually did. Conditions have been perfect for yacht racing – we were concerned this morning that there would not be enough wind, but it was perfect.'
'It was great fun today,' added Greg Chivers, captain and safety officer aboard Carl Linne. 'We managed to pass the two boats that started in front of us on the first leg, and held the lead for around two thirds of the race before some of the bigger boats reeled us in. A lot of people on the dock have said they were surprised she could go that fast – the owner heard the comments and is a very happy man!'
Watching from the sidelines and following the fleet around the course was the 63m Feadship Lady Britt, attending the Rendezvous part of the event. 'Today we had a fabulous day on board Lady Britt following the second day of racing,' said her owner. 'Images of large sailing boats passing by at full speed and at close range were most impressive and are still fresh in our minds. Guidance from a sailing expert among our guests added more insight to the tactical aspects of the competition and gave another dimension to the race. We thoroughly enjoyed the day.'
It was a sentiment repeated throughout the fleet. 'Today was pretty light but we had a lot of fun,' smiled Mark Sadler, tactician aboard the 43m Pendennis-built ketch Rebecca. 'It was a good course to sail – challenging, but fun. We’re enjoying the racing – beautiful waters, beautiful surroundings and a good vibe!'
That good vibe continued well into the night as owners and their guests enjoyed the glamorous Oil Nut Bay beach party.
Saturday represents the last day of racing and there is all to play for. In Division A's cruising class, just two points separate the top three yachts, with Cape Arrow and Salperton joint leaders ahead of P2. In Division B there is a David and Goliath battle brewing, with the 32m Bolero and 30m Sarafin sandwiched in second and third place respectively between 62m Athos and 54m Parsifal III.