Dropping a 1,300sq m kite requires all hands on deck. On Thursday Peter Rusch provided two of them on board Ghost, at the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup...

Another champagne day in Porto Cervo. Peter Rusch climbed aboard the Luca Brenta designed Ghost (see his report below) where he also talked with ex-Luna Rossa team member and for this week Ghost crewman, Tom Burnham about what makes racing these Maxi boats so special. CLICK HERE to listen to his podcast. 

Meanwhile, sailing in the same Cruising class, Matthew Sheahan sailed aboard the J Class Velsheda where he couldn’t resist sending back three pieces of video from the weather rail.

Powering upwind in 16-18 knots. 

The dramatic view of Ranger sailing alongside up the first beat. 

Gybing a J Class – Here’s how the Velsheda crew execute a perfect manoeuvre in just over a minute! 

Despite racing with a crew of 28, the Luca Brenta designed Ghost, racing in the cruising division at the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, had room for one more on deck on Thursday and kindly extended an invitation to Yachting World. It was the kind of day Sardinia is renowned for – bright sunshine, a spectacular ‘around the islands’ course, and 12 to 18 knots of wind to power you around the 39 mile race course in three hours and forty five minutes or so

This is the third year that owner Arne Glimcher has come to Sardinia with Ghost, attracted by the setting and the competition. And although a rather harsh IRC rating makes wins on corrected time difficult to come by, it does happen. On Wednesday, Ghost corrected out nearly one hour ahead of the nearest competition, as a fading breeze saw her home and finished with her rivals still struggling in the light airs on a long, 65 mile course. That wouldn’t happen today however. And despite sailing a near flawless race, and finishing nearly 15 minutes ahead of the competition, the Ghost crew scored a provisional fourth on the day.

But what’s really interesting here, apart from the results, is the style of sailing required on a 120 foot, 122 tonne, superyacht. Planning and thinking ahead is the key. And crew coordination is crucial. Tom Burnham, who sailed with Luna Rossa in the America’s Cup, is sailing on Ghost this week as a ‘crew boss and sort of tactician’. He says that when the boat is this big, you have to have your next move in mind well before it happens

“You have to think ahead and plan ahead,” he says. “You can’t get stuck with the wrong sail up (on this boat)?it’s about a five minute process to go from downwind sailing to rounding s leeward mark, so you need to really be focused and know what you’re going to do ahead of time and start things early enough to get it done

That means early calls on sail selection and sail changes, and starting the process of putting sails up or down well before the mark. And with the size of the material on this boat, it’s definitely a case of ‘the more, the merrier’

“We have 28 people on board and all 28 people are very busy because when you have to take a spinnaker down or put it up or even just move it around on deck in the bag, it takes a lot of hands to move those things around,” he says. “Our biggest spinnaker is 1300 square metres, which is three times the size of an America’s Cup spinnaker and equivalent to about a quarter acre.

On Thursday we sailed a long beat up through the islands off the coast north of Porto Cervo before turning for the long run home. Upwind, the crew is relatively untaxed – there’s no grinding here, all the winches (there’s only four of them!) are powered and can be controlled remotely, or by buttons on the deck.

“No there’s much winching in sails,” Burnham admits. “Our grinder is probably the smallest guy on board because he easily fits in the small places to push the button to make the winch go around

And although the boat is 122 tonnes, the crew is still up on the weather rail, doing their bit to coax it upright, and generate a bit more speed.

But preparing for the spinnaker hoist is a different story. It takes at least six or eight to haul the spinnaker up to the foredeck. And bringing it down at the end of the run requires as many hands as can be found.

Sailing a boat like Ghost is certainly a different experience from what most of do when we’re on the water. But perhaps what’s most surprising is how quickly one adjusts to the size and scale of a superyacht. Pretty soon, the 80 footers look sadly diminutive as you blow past them up the beat. Life in my Mirror dinghy will never be the same.


Rolex Maxi World Championships Day 4

Wind Strength: 16-18 knots

Sea State: Flat sea for the beat through the islands and a long surfing swell for the ride home around the outside.

Race : A thread up through the islands on the wind and a downhill slide to the finish – 40 miles

CLICK HERE for the mighty Wild Oats dismasted 
CLICK HERE for Keeping the Maxi Show on the Road 
CLICK HERE for Day 2 Report – Racing Postponed 
CLICK HERE for Day 1 Report 
CLICK HERE for Preview 

Matthew Sheahan and Peter Rusch talk to some of the key players during the week. You can also subscribe (free) to updates through iTunes.

CLICK HERE for Tom Burnham talking to Peter Rusch aboard Ghost. 
CLICK HERE for Wild Oats’ helmsman Mark Richards telling Peter Rusch about their dismasting 
CLICK HERE for Wild Oats’ shore manager Iain Smith on keeping the show on the road 
CLICK HERE for Alfa Romeo Tactician Michael Coxon on Day 1 
CLICK HERE for Mani Frers on Day 1 
CLICK HERE for ALL Audio Stories & Podcasts 

******VIDEO CLIPS******
Aboard Velsheda powering upwind in 16-18 knots. 
The view from Velsheda’s weather rail of Ranger sailing alongside up the first beat. 
Gybing a J Class – Here’s how the Velsheda crew execute a perfect manoeuvre in just over a minute! 

****** RESULTS ******
CLICK HERE for Official YCCS Website & Full Results