Just One More Chance

May 22, 2009

Farr 40 Fleet sailing downwind with the Faraglioni in the background.

Even Tiberius, the Roman Emperor who made Capri his home for the final years of his life would have been impressed this morning. With a window of wind opportunity reckoned to last about two hours in the sea-strait between the island and the mainland, it needed ruthless efficiency and nerves of steel to set a course and get the crews off for at least one race on the third day of Rolex Capri Sailing Week.

If race one was an example in efficiency, race two was an example in patience, with competitors kept waiting for the best part of three hours whilst a westerly breeze filled in across the course area and established itself. Heading into the final day, yachts holding the trump card in each division are: Mascalzone Latino (ITA/Farr 40); Atlantica Racing (ITA/Swan 45); Cuordileone (ITA/Swan 42); Fral 2 (ITA/Comet 45), and, Athanor (ITA/Comet 41).

For those still in touch with their class leader, tomorrow represents one last opportunity to stake their claim for top spot on the podium.

The crews have been lucky to have Peter Reggio marshalling the racecourse this week. For the first race of the day, Reggio decided to take advantage of the light southerly breeze covering the region at a point where the channel between Capri and Sorrento was squeezing an extra knot or two out of the wind. Good job too, as the shop shut-up completely shortly after the last of the Comets had cleared the finish line and the anticipated rotation to the west took an age to create enough confidence in Reggio to start race two.

The real winners in all this were, of course, the competitors, none more so in the first race than Helmut Jahn and Flash Gordon (USA) in the Farr 40s, Nico Poons and Charisma (NED) in the Swan 45s, Enrico Scerni and Kora 4 (ITA) in the Swan 42s, Alessandro Nespaga and Fral 2 in Comet 45s, and, Massimo Russo and Athanor in Comet 41s - all of whom took the gun in their divisions. In race two, the winners were Barking Mad (USA/Farr 40), Charisma, Cuordileone, Fral 2 and Athanor.

Both races were conducted in a shifting breeze; committing to a correct strategy was all-important as mistakes would be costly and irrecoverable. Flash Gordon had its now traditional good result in the first test, leading from start to finish. A second American team, Goombay Smash, also showed her potential before the Rolex Farr 40 Worlds by taking second, ahead of Calvi Network (ITA) and Fiamma (ITA). Mascalzone Latino's relative slump to fifth was more than compensated by TWT's (ITA) eventual ninth - a disappointing showing for Marco Rodolfi having got the better of Onorato on the first leg.

Goombay Smash followed up one good result with another finishing her second race in fourth, which delighted owner Doug Douglass, who has found the racing here difficult at the best of times, openly admitting to preferring heavier conditions, "the racing here is too challenging. Too light and too shifty. We like better breeze. The most important part of the race is to get off the starting line clean. All week those who have won the start have done better. But Capri is a beautiful island, we went to the Grotto Azzurra yesterday for a nice swim!"

With Jim Richardson winning the second of the two races and Flash Gordon posting a sixth it was good day for the American teams, but Vincenzo Onorato will be best satisfied holding a 9-point lead over second-placed Nerone (ITA).

In the Comet 45 Class, Fral 2 took total control of the light conditions in race one and stormed around the Emperor Tiberius' Villa Jovis on the eastern point of Capri.course, building an impregnable lead over rivals Libertine (ITA) and One Noidinotte (ITA), which finished second and third on the water and handicap respectively. The three-hour wait for the second race did nothing to reduce Fral 2's effectiveness in the second race, where she won again. One Noidinotte improved by one place to finish second, leaving a very happy crew, according to skipper, Felice Bifulco, "for us a second and a third today are great results. We are very happy about our boat and of course about the crew. You have to remember that this is a cruising yacht and it's the first time we are participating at a Rolex sailing event. The organisation is impressive on the water as well as onshore. It's really a great event, especially the spirit of the challenge."

In the Swan 45s, Charisma led race one from start to finish building a massive lead in the process. This will not have troubled Carlo Perrone and Atlantica Racing too much as their second place created further separation between themselves and the immediate chasing pack. However, in the second race Perrone could only finish fourth, which has closed up the standings with the top four now separated by three points; Charisma's double bullet moving them into second overall. Jesper Radich, tactician on the Dutch boat, put the walkaway win in the first race down to their pre-event practice, "the race was in the strait and the decision was between taking the left-hand cliffs or the right-hand cliffs. One side was going to pay. We learnt from our practice sessions that with the wind around 175/180 degrees the right would pay. We went right and were leading by more than a minute at the first mark."

The second race required Charisma to overtake Earlybird (GER), which had led in the early stages. Both Radich and owner, Nico Poons, put their success down to the crew as much as good tactics. "We were second rounding the windward mark. Downwind we put ourselves in a good position to overtake because of crew-work and tactics. It is absolutely a team sport and so much about teamwork," remarked Poons, who believes the week has been excellent practice for the Swan 45 Class world championship scheduled for Argentario later this year.

The Swan 42 class started the day more tightly poised than immediately after racing yesterday. Enrico Scerni and Kora 4 were the wrong side of a protest by Kuujjuaq (FRA) arising from an incident in yesterday's race. Kora 4 ended up disqualified from the single contest. As if stung by this Kora 4 took the sword to her opposition today winning race one comfortably. In race two Kora 4 was second behind Leonardo Ferragamo and crew, and goes into the final day one point off the pace.

In the Comet 41s, Athanor again showed her superior speed and boat handling by leading the remainder of the fleet a right merry dance in both races. She leads by nine-points and only an implosion will deny her tomorrow.

With similar wind conditions as today predicted for tomorrow, those in pole position will be happiest, but with some leading by only a point they are by no means feeling secure.

Racing at Capri Sailing Week 2009 ends tomorrow, Saturday, with the first gun scheduled for 12.00 CEST. No races will be started after 14.00.

Today's Plate of the Day: to start Spaghetti Zucchini 'Nerano', followed by a grilled Pezzogna (Sea Bream) served with grilled calamaretti - best eaten at Da Gemma, one of photographer Carlo Borlenghi's favoured haunts on Capri.

Farr 40

  • MMASCALZONE LATINO Vincenzo Onorato ITA, 2-1-6-1-5-2-17.00
  • NERONE Massimo Mezzaroma ITA, 7-2-3-5-6-3-26.00
  • TWT Marco Rodolfi ITA, 1-7-1-2-9-8-28.00


  • ATLANTICA RACING Carlo Perrone ITA, 1-4-1-2-4-12.00
  • CHARISMA Nico Poons NED, 4-1-6-1-1-13.00
  • EARLY BIRD Hendrik Brandis GER, 3-2-4-3-2-14.00


  • CUORDILEONE Leonardo Ferragamo ITA, 2-3-1-2-1-9.00
  • KORA 4 Enrico Scerni ITA, 1-1-5-1-2-10.00
  • KUUJJUAQ Ludovic de Saint Jean FRA, 3-2-3-3-3-14.00


  • FRAL 2 Alessandro Nespega ITA, 3-1-2-1-1-8.00
  • ONE NOIDINOTTE Saverio Bifulco ITA, 1-3-3-3-2-12.00
  • AGORA' Marco Franco ITA, 2-4-4-4-3-17.00


  • ATHANOR Massimo Russo ITA, 1-1-1-1-1-5.00
  • ZOOM Quatrini-Guiducci ITA, 3-2-4-3-2-14.00
  • PEDRO PROIETTILE Enrico Cardone ITA, 2-3-3-4-4-16.00

The Rolex Capri Sailing Week, organized by the Yacht Club Capri, runs from 19 to 23 May.

For more information about the Rolex Capri Sailing Week including entry lists and media accreditation please visitt www.yccapri.com

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