A day aboard the Wally 80 Aoli proved taxing for the crew. Matthew Sheahan reports

Rail riding aboard the Wally 80 Aori involved plenty of walking today, mainly from side to side as the breeze spent most of the day trying to outwit us and indeed everyone else, as it swung through 180 degrees and fluctuated between 4 and 16 knots.

In among the action of kite hoists, kite drops, code zero ins and outs and tacking without moving the bow, I took a few snippets of video both from the weather rail and from the back of the bus.

Remember, this is an 80 ft boat, the size that used to be crewed by an army of 25 people winding winches by hand in a pit that looked more like a mushroom field. Just look at the space aboard today’s maxis.


Hiking? Forget it when your handy dayglo dolphin of a keel bulb is swung out to one side. Let the lead do the work. 

A glance aft from the weather rail reveals what the afterguard get up to 

View from behind the wheel as Aori slips downwind. See how easy modern mainsail trimming is?! 

Our day, in reverse order.

Lucky Gate – For Some

Passing through a small gap between the mainland and a small island to the north east proved painful for all who tried it. Having pulled herself ahead of Ranger after a couple of hours of nip and tuck racing, Velsheda went for the gap and paid the price as their opponents took the long offshore route to the north east. By doing so Ranger launched herself into a healthy lead.

Now they are confusing everyone by gybing each time they want to go about on the upwind leg! The reason appears to be that their huge overlapping code zero is too fragile to have the leech dragged across the spreader tips.

With the sail costing more than a family home in Kensington you can understand why they appear a little precious.

For us the run home continues to be a stop-go affair.

But now it’s lottery time

As the funky conditions return and having sailed most of the way around the bay it would seem that the NW gradient breeze is fighting the easterly gradient. Time to turn the fleet inside out again.

Right at the moment the call that causes the most confusion aboard Aori us ‘weight to leeward’, with a sail hanging out on either side of the boat, some of us are not sure which way to crawl!

Sardinian conditions restored, briefly

Fifteen knots of breeze with gusts up to 18 and we’re now blasting along on a reach at 12 knots with out trusty ‘dayglow’ dolphin (that’s what the bulb of the canting keel looks like from my position on the weather rail) slung out to weather.

Half way round, breeze now steady and the jokes rife on the long two-sailer inland.

Did you hear about the man who drowned in his muesli?

He was dragged down by a strong current!

Normal conditions restored.

About turn

With most of the fleet now around the first mark the next big hurdle is the new north westerly that is sweeping in to oppose the current breeze. With kites up and boats beating ahead, its time to get the dice out.

Aboard Aori, just as the kite trimmer was describing how they blew out the same kite on the same point of sail last time Bang, out blew the head, as God took our A 1 down.

I have a feeling this is just the start of a tricky day!

Softly, softly, catchy monkey

Softly, softly catchy monkey – picking your line of breeze, moving like a cat and remaining patient are the keys for today.

The whole fleet has now started with a split in opinions as to how to head up the first beat – hard right (us, Y2K, Highland Fling and several others) or hard left. There is no middle ground.

The swings between looking good and looking desperate will be big today. Every now and then a close competitor will climb away sailing 20 degrees higher. You can only grin and bear it.

Softly softly catchy monkey.

Drifting into conversation

When it comes to the weather, Porto Cervo frequently has plenty of it, a resort better known for its strong conditions than for light weather drifters. But with the wind barely exceeding 5 knots so far and with little apparent prospect of any more in the immediate future the fleet has been milling around the start area waiting and watching.

For me, the day has been spent chewing the cud with Wally Yachts boss Luca Basani, which is always an enjoyable and enlightening experience. With such a rich variety in the Maxi fleet the topics of conversation have ranged from favourite boats of the last 10 years to a debate as to whether boats like Alfa Romeo and Wild Oats are today’s J Class yacht. Would Vanderbilt and Lipton among others have chosen these boats had they the option?

And what of Wally Yachts? Where is the company that has inspired a new generation of yachts both big and small heading next?

To find out the answer to this question in particular watch out for the next issue of Yachting World and our podcast section on the web.

In the meantime its back to the charts and course book to find out how we, aboard the Wally 80 Aori, and the rest of the fleet are going to get around the 25 mile course in 5 knots of wind.

Back when we’re underway


Rolex Maxi World Championships Day 5

Wind Strength: 4-16 knots

Sea State: Flat, flat, flat – thank heavens.

Race : A zig-zag out to the east, back to the west and back into port. Plenty of holes, shifts and lucky strikes – 25 miles

CLICK HERE Whidden waxes on sailing in Sardinia 
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 North Sails’ CEO, three times America’s Cup winner and racing legend Tom Whidden talking to Peter Rusch about the Maxi scene 
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******
Aori – Hiking? Forget it when your handy dayglo dolphin of a keel bulb is swung out to one side. Let the lead do the work. 
Aori – A glance aft from the weather rail reveals what the afterguard get up to 
Aori – View from behind the wheel as Aori slips downwind. See how easy modern mainsail trimming is?! 
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