Maxi winners return for today’s Regata dei Tre Golfi offshore raceNaples, 12 May 2023
26 maxis will the lead the fleet away from Naples late this afternoon on the Regata dei Tre Golfi. The second oldest offshore race in Italy after Rolex Giraglia, this year will double as the offshore part of the IMA Maxi European Championship, which continues over Monday to Thursday next week with coastal and windward-leeward races on the Bay of Naples. Like its inaugural edition in 2022, the IMA Maxi European Championship is organised by Naples’ Circolo del Remo e della Vela Italia (CRVI) in conjunction with the IMA, the body officially tasked by World Sailing to administer and develop maxi yacht racing internationally. The event is supported by Rolex as Official Timepiece and Loro Piana.
This will be the 68th edition of the CRVI’s Regata dei Tre Golfi. Once famous for its dramatic midnight start, the maxis today will set sail at a more hospitable 1700 from off the CRVI’s clubhouse in Santa Lucia Marina by the Neapolitan landmark Castel dell’Ovo. The rest of the fleet sets sail 30 minutes later.
This year the 150 mile course has been amended. The fleet exits the Bay of Naples and heads west-northwest, but now must leave Zannone to port in addition to its neighbour, Ponza, the race’s northerly turning mark. Then they can leave Capri to port or starboard as they return towards Punta Campanella (the tip of the Sorrento Peninsula) and on to the Li Galli islands turning mark off the Amalfi coast, which they leave to starboard. This year the race end has changed, the fleet now rerounding Punta Campanella with the finish off Massa Lubrense, west of Sorrento.
Many Regata dei Tre Golfi faithful are back. They include both the 2002 line honours and overall winners: Furio Benussi’s 100ft ARCA SGR and Peter Dubens’ former Maxi72 North Star.
Benussi is predicting a moderate race: “It is not strong wind, but there is wind. The first part is reaching, but there is not much wind, which for us is perfect - the maximum wind speed will be around 15 knots around 0500-0600. But let’s see…”
ARCA SGR will be gunning not only for line honours but also for the race record. The fastest time in recent years was set by Cippa Lippa 8, Guido Paolo Gamucci's Cookson 50, in 2016 with a time of 16 hours 44 minutes and 13 seconds. To better this Arca SGR has to finish by 09:44 tomorrow.
Gamucci returns this year with his latest Cippa Lippa X, a canting keel Mylius 60. Other winners are also back. In 2006 Pier Luigi Loro Piana and his 84ft My Song won the Regata dei Tre Golfi ‘double’ ie overall and line honours. This year he returns for a fourth time this time with his latest My Song, a canting keel ClubSwan 80.
“Everything depends on where the wind will come from - the forecast shows light wind at the beginning of the night but the forecast is changing a lot so I hope it will improve,” says Loro Piana, who admits that his latest My Song would prefer stronger off the wind conditions. Significantly this will be Loro Piana’s first offshore on his new yacht. “I am curious to see how it will be on a long race - it is very minimal down below.”
Guiseppe Puttini’s Swan 65 Shirlaf won the predecessor to this event, Rolex Capri Sailing Week in 2021 and is back. This 1976 ‘modern classic’ ketch also likes strong winds, as bowman Riccardo La Mantia says: “We prefer 20 knots. Unfortunately we will have light winds, but we are always pleased to race.” Shirlaf is about as optimised for light conditions as a Swan 65 can be and has a strong crew including tactician Gabriele Bruni.
ARCA SGR’s main line honours rival may be another Trieste-based maxi Shockwave 3, the 90ft water ballasted ex-Alfa Romeo 1, on which original owner Neville Crichton in 12 months following her launch in 2002 won Rolex Sydney Hobart, Fastnet and Giraglia race line honours.
“This will be a great trial for us,” says tactician Matteo Ferraglia. “It is only one night but it will be enough to see how the watches work.” 20 years on, the boat looks immaculate and according to team leader Riccardo Bonetti she hasn’t fundamentally changed, although she has been extensively refitted. As to the conditions, Ferraglia continues: “We know Arca SGR very well but we have never sailed this boat against the Maxi 72s and have no idea what to expect.” The narrow Shockwave 3 should perform well in light conditions.
They will certainly be in for a shock as the former Maxi 72s are among the world’s most optimised race boats. Jethou and the 2022 Regata dei Tre Golfi overall winner North Star this year are joined by recent Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup class winners Cannonball, Vesper and Proteus.
“The competition is fantastic this year with the whole competitive Maxi 72 fleet turning up. It is really great to be racing such stiff competition,” says North Star tactician Nick Rogers.
This race is typically very tactical and so North Star has in its afterguard navigators Wouter Verbraak and Miles Seddon. “It will be a different race to last year,” Rogers continues. “At the moment from the two models we are looking it depends how much the southerly flow stays in - whether we get all the way to the island, semi-upwind and then tack around the island and stay in the southerly flow in which case we stay offshore or if it gets really light then it’s anyone’s guess.”
Compared to the other Maxi 72s, North Star has the benefit of having hydraulic sail controls, which means they can sail with fewer crew, and possibly the lightest weight sailing weights of the 72s. But Rogers is aware of the oppostion: “Vesper is probably the greatest IRC monohull of the world - you are not going to beat a boat like her or Cannonball easily - both are mega-competitive.”
Regata dei Tre Golfi is also the second event in the IMA’s 2022-23 Mediterranean Maxi Offshore Challenge.
Race report by James Boyd /IMA
Event' website, race documents and Live tracking: www.tregolfisailingweek.com