07 - 11 June 2016

Loro Piana Superyacht Regatta Sardinia 2016

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08th June 2016

Race Day One

With 10-15 knots and clear blue skies, expectations were high for a brilliant day on the water in the first race of the Loro Piana.  With Humphreys Yacht Design responsible for 3 of the 7 yachts in Class B, Rob and his son Tom, racing on board Tempus Fugit – the beautiful 90 footer built in Turkey a few years ago - joked that they had a 45% chance of a result for their design house!  On board the now well proven Oyster 825 Maegan, tensions mounted as the brand new Oyster 885 Firebird started to show her paces in the her maiden event following her launch only two months ago.

The racing started with a very exciting fleet start of the 12 Wally yachts, incredibly close to each other off the starting line – it was a fantastic sight. The Wally fleet is racing under normal sailing rules this week, in contrast to the 18 other Superyachts, who in two classes, are racing under the Superyacht rule appendix. The international jury took great care to brief the skippers and tacticians over how, when Superyacht's meet Wally's at the marks or obstructions, the possible conflict in the rules could be settled – at one point the senior member of the Jury said 'we need your help guys…the rules are not designed for this sort of thing!'

Attempting to address this, the race committee set different courses and allowed a 10 minute gap after the Wally's to try to get them safely up their course, well away from the Superyachts following them!

Then, starting individually at 2 minute intervals the rest of fleet gradually got under way, heading first in to "Bomb alley" for a 15 mile upwind leg to Spargi Island.  Maegan was saving her time at the Island leading class B on corrected time.  With kites hoisted the race back through the islands seem set to secure great placings for Maegan, Firebird and Tempus.  However, as usual Sardinia dealt some tricky cards and spun the lottery wheel.  With the two leading yachts of class B just through the Capo Ferro gap 2 miles from the finish, the rest of class B suddenly faced a 180 degree wind shift in the narrow gap between the Ferro Island and the mainland!  Crews fought with their spinnakers as a run turned in to a beat and sadly also dropped from 15 knots to 5-7 knots. Catching the lead class B yachts as well, but not for so long, this major change in the last 10% of the 31 mile race changed everything.  Tempus found a nice shift and overtook Maegan to take 4th place in class with Grand Orazio and Whisper just ahead of My Song - Per Luigi Loro–Piana's own yacht in 3rd. Maegan finished 5th, ahead of Ammonite the new lightweight Southern Wind 82, with sadly Firebird caught by the shifts last in class in 7th place.

All to play for tomorrow – and we hope to see Maegan and Firebird repeating their stunning form seen before the wind shift!

Images by Carlo Baroncini

09th June 2016

Race Day Two

With fickle winds, the race committee flew the postponement flag at the prescribed first start time of 1130. Giving encouraging data over the VHF the race officer kept the fleet well informed as the sea breeze slowly built from the north west and expectations rose for another great day of racing in the 2016 Loro Piana Superyacht regatta.

After a superb 3-star Michelin dinner the night before with fine wines, everyone on the race course was here to continue to enjoy themselves and waiting for wind was no issue! Sun shining, clear blue skies and with good humour aboard Maegan, the hour quickly passed and the postponement flag came down for the starting sequence.

Today the Wally fleet was to start after the Superyacht Class A & B and aboard Maegen the inevitable "where's Wally?" jokes started to flow. It seemed all set for a great day!

The committee set a 32 mile course trusting that the wind would hold for the duration. A 5 mile lovely beat to the first mark – a lighthouse on a small island – making for some spectacular photographs as the yachts called for water amongst the rocks, with several of these large yachts all overlapped at 10-12 knots around 'the mark".  With a 300 metre 'zone' defined by the Superyacht rule appendix and a mark - in this case an island - nearly 500 metres in length, the overlapping zone was over 1 nautical mile – something to test the after guard and their knowledge of the rules.

Half way up the beat Maegan had to drop her headsail to fix a torn leech, losing perhaps 5 mins, but giving a great chance for Firebird and Tempus to power through – again providing opportunity for spectacular photos. Today's course took us around La Maddalena island for a great spinnaker run in 18-20 knots. Boat speeds at 12- 13 knots pumped the adrenalin up and close racing alongside each other, Firebird and Maegan pulled away from Tempus.

Sadly, Sardinia rolled the lottery wheel again and despite the race officers grand promises that the wind would hold in the for the duration, all three of the Humphreys designed yachts ground to a complete halt as the wind shut off around them. Frustratingly we had to watch the lightweight yacht ahead of us sail away to the finish with the last of the favourable wind. Stretching the times out dramatically the lower rated trio of yachts had no chance to hold on to their leading corrected times won hard during the first 80% of the race and we all three drifted in nearly 30 minutes later – "ah, well, that's yacht racing' said the Bowman …..!  

Tomorrow we hope the race officer gives us a chance to get to the finish line in the same conditions as the rest of our class…..fingers crossed!

Images by Carlo Baroncini.

10th June 2016

Race Day Three

"Consistent wind at last" - one of the crew on the Oyster 825 Maegan exclaimed as we crossed the finish line in about the same wind as we started – a big first for this years Loro Piana regatta – however, it was only 6 knots all day! The comment reflected the mood on Maegan – we'd had a lovely day racing in the glorious sunshine, the humour on board ranged far and wide across many topics and whilst the racing was painfully slow, the race management had done well to send us out for a good 3rd day of racing.

The Wally fleet showed their paces again with a fleet start 20 minutes ahead of the Superyacht Class A & B.  Magic Carpet made a stunning start using her size to power through the smaller Wally's and for all in the Superyacht fleet, this spectacle of 12 powerful yachts starting close together raised the adrenalin for the sailing to come. The Race Committee had luck on their side today and the square line they set for the Wally fleet became heavily biased for the Superyachts as the wind shifted 50-60 degrees to the right just as the first starters got under way. For Maegan, 2nd to go in class, 2 minutes after Tempus Fugit and 2 minutes ahead of Firebird, the wind shift meant we could lay the first mark on one tack. The safety radio channel 8 was buzzing as calls for water started in the 300 metre zone around Alpha buoy, to be followed again by the 80 metre 'overtaking' rule of the Superyacht appendix kicked in for many yachts on the long shy kite reach to mark "Hotel".

A gybe, a round up on to port tack, a couple of gentle tacks to clear the land and then all set for a long close port tack just clearing headlands back to Echo buoy. With winds less than 9 knots, the ORC ratings all change across the fleet and Tempus now gives Maegan time and My Song gives Maegan over an hour over the 4-5 hour race.  As I write this we wait to see the final results of this very wide spread of ratings from very different yachts.

Firebird had a better day than earlier in the week, proudly showing her wonderful artwork on her spinnaker in the Sardinian sunshine.  With a spectacular party at the famous "Phi-Beach" tonight, finding out the results can happily drift to tomorrow as we press-send to catch the publishing deadlines.

Images by Carlo Baroncini.

11th June 2016

Race Day Four

Maegan wins Race 4, Class B

The race committee set a 30 minute postponement with an announcement that they had no idea what the wind was going to do, but could we all come out please to the starting area 30 minutes after the planned start and they would keep their fingers crossed that some wind would set in!

With the Superyachts starting ahead of the Wally's on this last day we all watched patiently as the wind gently started to fill in and swing to the South East.  The race was on! With a line set and Class A starting first, the fleet of graceful and beautiful Superyachts, gently made their way up the first beat to Alpha in about six knots of wind.  A bear away at Alpha and a long port-biased tack down Mortorio island created overtaking lanes and some difficult times for Maegan and Tempus as faster boats slowly passed to windward giving long periods of dirty air. Exciting spinnaker hoists at Mortorio brought the helicopters out for some great photos with Firebird sadly losing about five minutes with a complicated wrap in her top-down A3 furler – this was to prove expensive for her as she later would find she finished fifth just over three minutes behind the leader!

Back on to the wind after Suffi island and then another kite set for the run down to Tango buoy.  At Tango, kites down again and only 10 minutes for the beat to Bravo had the teams working hard getting ready for the final spinnaker hoist for the last half a mile leg to the finish line.  Calculators were out in force on the deck of Maegan – times looked very close and then the cheer went up. Maegan in first place for the last race.

A tremendous testament to the current range of Oyster's latest hull designs – the Oyster 675 up to the fabulous Oyster 118 have been developed from extensive tank tested and the Oyster 825 – weighing in at ~65 tonnes - has consistently demonstrated that these beautiful cruising yachts can show their performance against some very different yachts. In Class B, the overall winner was Grand Orazio – a carbon lightweight (less than 40 tonnes) Southern Wind 82, and Ammonite a sister ship with a  different deck was close behind. My Song – Mr Loro Piana's personal Reichel-Pugh Cookson 80 – another all carbon lightweight was mid fleet – to win against yachts built for speed not comfort, is a great result.  One of these owners came aboard Maegan this morning and was heard to say "when I decide to give up racing and go cruising, I'll buy an Oyster" - little did he know that Maegan would beat him today – proving you can also race in serious comfort!

Checking the overall points over the four races, Maegan and Tempus both finished with 19 points, Maegan being given the fifth place through having the best result on the last race.

A great regatta and even better for Maegan to finish with a win!  Building on her first in Class and second overall at the Superyacht Cup, Palma, last year, this is a great result and hopefully a sign of more to come.

Images by Carlo Baroncini.