Day one of the Rolex Capri Sailing Week was blessed with sublime conditions -a warm breeze of eight to twelve knots from the south to southeast was a little more than forecast. There was spectacular racing today for all classes on windward leeward courses in the strait between Capri and Punta Campanella.
"The great thing about the Bay of Naples is that you can sail here all year, it is never cold," explained one of Napoli's most famous sons, Francesco de Angeles, tactician on Andres Sorriano's Mills 68 Mini-Maxi Alegre. "Capri is 18 miles offshore and has more current than Naples, also the wind can be more tricky. For me it is a wonderful place to sail. I grew up here sailing dinghies in the Bay of Naples. There is a lot of history in and around Capri, each cape has its own story, the volcano Vesuvio, Pompeji… there are many more. It is a multi-cultural place, the Greeks, the Normans, the Spanish have all been here… I hope that all of the sailors who have come to Capri enjoy some great sailing."
It was all smiles on the Mini-Maxi yachts, fully powered up in little breeze, sailing as fast as the wind. The powerful boats seem to glide effortlessly through the water. Alegre sailed with precision and guile to win both of today's races. Alegre were a class act but they had to be at their best.
"The pressure is always on," explained Alegre's navigator, Will Best. "One mistake in this class and you are unlikely to recover. Capri is a complex place to sail and it is easy to get caught in a spot without breeze and in this fleet; they will take full advantage. Leading from the front, you are always looking over your shoulder, you always have to be on your toes."
Peter Ogden's JV 60 Jethou was extremely well sailed today, crew work and boat handling were both impeccable. Jethou had a great tussle with Benjamin Brian's Maxi Dolphin 65, Aegir. Although the two yachts were far apart on the water, on corrected time there were two very tight finishes, Aegir beating Jethou in both races by just seven seconds.
This is the first regatta for Alex Schärer's Marten 67, Caol Ila, but Alex has sailed in Italian waters many times before in previous boats, including the Giraglia Rolex Cup. Calling tactics on Caol Ila is one of Ireland's finest sailors, Gordon Maguire, most recently a helmsman on Mike Slade's supermaxi, ICAP Leopard.
"We have come to Rolex Capri Sailing Week to launch a new boat," explained Maguire. " And what a great place to start a campaign. Alex and his crew are new to this level of sailing and it is really important that he gets the right guidance. That way they will truly enjoy the experience, even if at first they are not winning every race. It gives me as much satisfaction to see the smiles on board Caol Ila, as it does winning a grand prix event. Our priority this week is to enjoy sailing the boat but to do so to the best of our ability."
The X-41 Class provided the closest racing of the day. The one design class produced some adrenalin pumping action, especially at mark roundings where close encounters were a regular occurrence. Starts are always important and especially so in light air. A clean get away puts the leader in undisturbed wind whilst the competition is literally struggling for air behind.
X-41, Raffica is owned by Orofino Pasquale who hails from nearby Ischia and knows these waters well. Raffica had an excellent day winning two races and lead the class. The boat has an excellent crew including Andrea Trani, who represented Italy at the Athens and Beijing Olympics in 470, and veteran yachtsman, Paolo Semeraro who is calling tactics.
Paulo, who also represented Italy at two Olympic Games and has won countless World and National titles, said: "We had a bad start in the first race and it was a real struggle to fight our way back to third but the boat speed and crew work were good, we felt we could come back. I have been coming to Capri since 1985 and it is a great place to visit. I think that the racing will be very close all week, especially with WB Five."
The most exciting finish of the day came from the Comet Class. In the first race of two of the pre-race favourites crossed the finish line within a boat length of each other. Reigning class champion, Alessandro Nespega's Fral 2 taking the gun from Marco Franco's Libertine by the narrowest of margins. After three races, Fral 2 is in first place with Libertine second. Massimo Guardigli is one point behind in third.
Addessi Vincenzo's Fra Diavolo is the over night leader of the Mylius Class, winning two of today's races. Vittorio Landolfi's Pithecusa is currently second overall with Luciano Gandini's Twin Soul Five in third place.
After returning to the Grande Marina, the Yacht Club Capri provided refreshments for all of the competitors. Racing at Rolex Capri Sailing Week continues tomorrow and local weather expert, Filippo Petrucci is confident that the competitors can expect even more wind than today, which should provide more exciting action from Capri.
Provisional Standings after 3 Races
Place, Boat Name, Owner, Nation, R's-Points
1. ALEGRE Andres Soriano GBR, 1-1-1-3.00
2. JETHOU Sir Peter Ogden GBR, 3-2-2-7.00?2. AEGIR Brian Benjamin GBR, 2-3-3-8.00
1. FRAL 2 Alessandro Nespega ITA, 1-2-1-4.00
2. LIBERTINE Marco Franco ITA, 2-4-2-8.00
3. ALLURE Massimo Guardigli ITA, 3-3-3-9.00
1. RAFFICA Pasquale Orofino ITA, 3-1-1-5.00
2. WB FIVE Gianclaudio Bassetti ITA, 1-2-3-6.00?
3. MALAFEMMENA Giovanni Arturo di Lorenzo ITA, 2-3-2-7.00??
1. FRA DIAVOLO Vincenzo Addessi ITA, 1-2-1-4.00
2. PITHECUSA Vittorio Landolfi ITA, 3-1-3-7.00?
3. TWIN SOUL 5, Luciano Gandini ITA, 4-3-2-9.00