The first gun was fired at the Maxi Yacht World Championships in 1980 but it wasn’t on the race course. In true sailing anarchy style the party was seriously kicking off in the Clipper Bar. A blizzard of pop corn was the pre-cursor to a hundred or so like minded sailors tearing around the place, eventually resorting to near naked wrestling matches on the beer soaked floor in broken glass.
The Sardinian Police arrived and in a last ditch attempt to restore order a hand gun slug was discharged into the ceiling which caused normal service to resume, at least for a moment. However a couple of guys spotted that the police car, perched on a hill, was unlocked. Upon releasing the handbrake , it rolled into the round-about, taking out the headlights.
A few guys spent the night in the cells, picked out of the rabble at random. The Police left the cell door wide open, hoping the sailors would try to escape so they could belt the crap out of them. Since 1980, Porto Cervo has been hardware heaven to some of the most outstanding mega yachts of the past three decades; Kiaola IV, Boomerang. Longabarda, Morning Glory, Sayonara, Magic Carpet, Pyewacket, Alexia, Ranger, Numbers….the list is endless.
Fast forward to 2009 and Porto Cervo hosted the 20th edition of the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, over 40 yachts of mind bending performance gathered at the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda. The yachts were split up into a ridiculous number of classes but there were basically three types of yachts. The massive Wally yachts were an incredible sight but even these magnificent yachts were dwarfed by the gargantuan Visione, Hasno Platner’s 148 ft Baltic. The sight of Visione and Charles Dunstone 117 ft Hamilton II nailing the line on the ‘B’ of the bang was nothing short of alarming, the shear power of these beasts can be put into perspective by an incident on board the 140 ft Hetairos. They lost all hydraulic power in the pre-start of one race and had to top handle the enormous primary to pull the über No1 Jib in.
However the real deal at the 2009 Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup was the Mini Maxi Class and I mean the whole class, Neville Crichton is a top draw owner driver but surely part of the draw to this impressive class is to take on the best and looking at the crew lists, there are a huge number of world class sailors in Mini Maxi Class. Alfa Romeo rightly won the owner driver class and another Rolex for his collection but the class winner only counted for half the fleet. Rán corrected out top of the eight boats and were the class act in Cervo.
Team Whisper have also definitely stepped up a gear or two, Mick Cotter’s 72 footer had a blip in race 4 but posted straight bullets. The crew have two experts on set ups like Whisper. Andy Beadsworth and Guy Barron are top draws and have a hell of a lot of experience working with Corinthian crews.
The sailing was nothing short of mind blowing, early in the week a ball busting 25-30 knots plus was blasting out of the north east kicking up 4 metres of swell. Downwind was lumpy but apart from the Mini Maxis, most of the racing was coastal which let some of these uber huge yachts off the leash. Karl Kwok’s Farr 80, Beau Geste was probably the fastest yacht off the breeze and spent a lot of time in the ‘Green Room’. The boat is unmistakably a reaching machine and once the crew have worked her up she will be some weapon, especially ocean racing.
If you have never been to Porto Cervo, it’s a purpose built yacht racing paradise and not just for awesome sailing conditions, the piazza has some serious eye candy roaming around it and on the water there are some wicked power boats with some seriously well preserved cougars draping the decks. On the last night, there were no shots fired in the Clipper Bar but layday evening saw Millhouse get slung in the pool at the Grand Hotel Porto Cervo, don’t tell his missus (I bet someone already has) but he was so loaded that he lost his wallet and his phone. There was some great banter, highlight of the last night was Stu off Whisper who was a mean drummer on the Volvo circuit sailing band and was cajoled into showing his talents in the Lord Nelson in Cervo.Stay real Stu and grow back the facial hair. Above Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi.