Three days of thrilling competition on the waters off Virgin Gorda concluded with yet another nail biting race where victory or defeat – in several cases – came down to the final cross, in the final leg, of the final race.
Organized by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda and Boat International, and sailed from 9th to 12th March at the yacht club’s winter home in the British Virgin Islands, the spectacular event was a thriller to the very end.
A downwind start in 20-24 knots of blustery easterly winds on the final day added further excitement to an already charged atmosphere, and the owners and crews on the 21 competing sailing superyachts gave their all in what Bouwe Bekking, tactician on Class A winner Nilaya termed “one of the best races of this year in the Caribbean.”
Class A saw the battle between Nilaya and Inoui, which had been progressing since day one, reach its conclusion on day three with a win for the 34-metre Baltic-built Nilaya. And this despite a most spectacular spinnaker blow-out at the end of the first downwind leg.
“It was just at the last gybe,” explained Bekking. “We were on the inside and lost control of the boat and we had a big puff and we broached, and the spinnaker wasn’t strong enough for that. So that was game over for the spinnaker.”
He went on to explain how they clinched the win. “When we have spinnaker starts it suits us pretty well, we are a little bit quicker downwind, and Inoui are a little bit quicker upwind. So we got ahead at the bottom mark and then we just had to stay ahead.”
Nilaya also claimed the Loro Piana Prize Boat International Media Trophy for the top scored superyacht overall.
Class B boasted a different winner on each of the three race days and on the last day it was the turn of P2 to claim her first bullet of the event which, coupled with a disappointing fifth-place finish from closest rival Hetairos, put victory in the bag for them.
P2’s tactician Tony Rey explained some of the challenges the crew faced. “This is a new boat for our team and luckily on the last day everything came right for us. It’s been a challenge for us to figure out how to do things ‘the P2 way’ but we improved each day and that was the goal, to feel like we’re sailing the boat better every time we pulled the sails on.”
Rey was understandably happy with the ORCsy rating rule used at the event. “Everyone was gathering together at the finish and that’s what pursuit racing superyachts is all about. It keeps it exciting for anyone watching, for the owners and guests and certainly for the sailors.”
Class C saw a mighty battle raging on the final upwind leg, with the 43-metre Dubois yacht Bella Ragazza crossing the line in first place, just five seconds ahead of overall winner Seahawk. Italian boat Ohana took third place overall, after being penalized by an equipment failure which prevented her racing on Day One.
Donald MacPherson’s Swan 90 Freya was the undisputed champion of Class D, with three consecutive bullets posted. Second place went to the Oyster yacht Maegan. The Southern Wind yacht Blues came in third.
“Normally it is very difficult to keep superyacht owners happy but this week I think we managed to do that.” commented YCCS Commodore Riccardo Bonadeo. “My thanks go to the Race Committee, the ORC ratings team, the event staff from YCCS and from Boat International, to our sponsor Mr Pier Luigi Loro Piana – a YCCS Member, a sailor, a good friend and a great supporter of our superyacht events – and of course to the owners and crews who make this event better each year.”
Speaking as both title sponsor and a competitor, Pier Luigi Loro Piana was able to look on the bright side of his fourth place finish in Class A.“I’m so happy with this record edition with so many boats. I have noticed that the quality and the level increases every year and I can’t seem to win here! I can’t even complain about the ratings system because it works really well,” he said.
The motor yachts taking part in the Westport Rendezvous rounded off their program with an entertaining scavenger hunt and lunch at Oil Nut Bay.