Roy Disney and team aboard the MaxZ86 won the racing division at the opening race of the Maxi Rolex Cup yesterday

Under clear blue skies with winds between 11-16 knots from the north-east, 33 boats hit the starting line for day one of the 2004 Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup hosted by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda yesterday.

The fleet of Maxi yachts, which has been defined as yachts larger than 65ft, is divided into three divisions: racing, cruising and the Wally class, with 10 boats.

For day one, the racing class course was 32 miles, with the cruising and Wally classes sailing past the Islands of Mortorio and Soffi on a course of 22 miles.

Pyewacket, a MaxZ86 owned by Roy Disney (USA) won the racing division, Luca Bassani’s Tiketitan took first in the Wally division and Italy’s Viriella, owned by Vittorio Moretti, claimed first in the cruising division.

“Today’s’ race provided the high quality competition we expected,” said Disney. “We went head to head against Genuine Risk and Alfa Romeo, especially on the first beat. As the race progressed, our boat’s and the crew’s performance enabled us to sustain the lead, in particular going downwind. We look forward to having another day like today.”

According to Bassani, the key to winning the race was, “sailing smart and conservative, especially in light of the choppy seas during the first part of the race.” He added, “Yet, despite the seas, Tiketitan sails well in these kind of wind conditions, specifically on beats and reaches.”

In the cruising class, Viriella an 118ft Frers took first place honours. “We had a good start and were able to cross the fleet,” said skipper Mauro Pelaschier, previously an Italian America’s Cup skipper. “We made a smart sail selection for the downwind leg which enabled us to extend our lead.”