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Selden 2020 - LEADERBOARD

151 Miglia-Trofeo Cetilar at Livorno, Italy - Day 1

by James Boyd / International Maxi Association 1 Jun 2023 20:11 UTC From 1 June 2023

The 14th 151 Miglia-Trofeo Cetilar set sail at 1400 today off Livorno, Italy. With light winds forecast, the organisers - Yacht Club Punta Ala, Yacht Club Livorno, Yacht Club Repubblica Marinara di Pisa - prior to the start announced the course would be shortened.

From the start, the race would follow its usual course to a weather mark and then to a turning mark off Marina di Pisa, continuing southwest to the Giraglia rock off northeast Corsica and on to pass through the newly introduced gate off southwest Elba. But then the fleet could head directly to the Punta Ala finish without having to round the Formiche di Grosseto rocks, usually the race's southerly turning mark. The new course reduces the race mileage from 151 to 124.

With 13 maxis competing among the 180 starters, the 151 Miglia-Trofeo Cetilar continues the International Maxi Association's seven event 2022-23 Mediterranean Maxi Offshore Championship. Following last autumn's Rolex Middle Sea Race and the recent Regata dei Tre Golfi, the annual series concludes with August's Palermo-Montecarlo.

As expected, Australian Peter Harburg's 100ft Black Jack was fastest away from the start line. At the weather mark most of the fleet hoisted kites for the reach across to the turning mark off Marina di Pisa. Black Jack was slowly extending away here despite flying a gennaker while the plucky 90ft Arca SGR carried a kite.

Highlight of the opening moments of this 151 Miglia-Trofeo Cetilar came after the Marina di Pisa turning mark when the sea breeze built to 8-9 knots, enough for race founder Roberto Lacorte and his 60ft Flying Nikka to achieve 'escape velocity': Lacorte cracked sheets, got his extraordinary boat foiling and, elevated out of the water, suddenly was travelling at twice the speed of every other boat in the fleet.

At 1730 this afternoon, Black Jack was continuing to make 10+ knots towards the Giraglia rock, just south of the rhumb line with her shorter rival just over two miles astern, closer to the direct route to Giraglia. Flying Nikka was just passing southeast of the island Gorgona.

Despite the forecast, ARCA SGR's skipper and the race's defending line honours and overall champion, Furio Benussi was relieved to be starting. In last month's Regata dei Tre Golfi his 100ft ARCA SGR had suffered damage to her keel box when one of the bushes holding the ram for her canting keel broke, forcing her to retire. He has since managed to borrow another Trieste-based maxi, the 90ft Shockwave 3 and has been hurriedly trying to get used to the boat which has the older tech of a fixed keel and water ballast compared to the canting keels of his 100 footer and Black Jack. "It is a really nice boat," said Benussi. "We are happy to be here and to keep going with the program while we work on the other boat. Her damage is not so big.

"Our race should be really nice against the 100 footer and Flying Nikka. Maybe we can have a good result, but we will see. The crew is nice and the boat is not bad, but the weather conditions are not easy because of the light wind. But our aim is to be here with the boat."

While ARCA SGR has both a length and technology disadvantage compared to Black Jack, she does have the advantage of being able to shed water ballast and therefore weight that her rival can't in the light conditions.

This morning all of the maxis were looking to shed crew. On Guido Paolo Gamucci's canting keel Mylius 60 Cippa Lippa X for example they were looking to reduce their crew of 18 down to 14 or 15 - disappointing for those left on the dock.

The crew on the VO70 I Love Poland, winner of the IMA's 2022 Caribbean Maxi Challenge, were maintaining a brave face considering their yacht relishes 20+ knots. "Looking at the weather forecast, it isn't great, but the conditions will be the same for everyone and that is part of the game," acknowledges skipper Grzegorz Baranowski. "I hope we will have 6-7 knots- enough to keep us moving forward. We'll just have to do the best we can in the conditions."

It would also be good training for his young Polish crew - trimming the keel to leeward to induce some heel and to maintain focus for hours on end hunting the slightest zephyr. "It is not like a video game where everything gets quicker and quicker! They have to learn patience. Right now the most optimistic weather forecast gives us an ETA of 24 hours but the others are much longer... We are ready for two or three days."

On board RE/MAX One2 owner Dario Castiglia was looking forward to his fifth 151 Miglia-Trofeo Cetilar, the first on his newly acquired Baltic 65, originally Alessandro Rombelli's Stig. "This year conditions don't look too promising - there won't be much wind and the race committee are looking at different courses to overcome that. We have a new boat this year which will be good to take on the challenge in the maxi class. We are looking forward to a good race."

As how they would handle the ultra-light conditions Castiglia added: "With light winds you have to be even more focused because every part of a knot counts. So we really need to concentrate and find the wind. It is actually more exhausting when it is light winds than strong winds."

While this afternoon the maxis have made better progress than expected, a lengthy park-up is expected overnight with the first arrivals not due into Punta Ala until tomorrow afternoon.

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