A fast and furious 25-mile dash through the rocky islands just off Porto Cervo saw the 25 contestants in the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup at full stretch

A fast and furious 25-mile dash through the rocky islands just off Porto Cervo saw the 25 contestants in the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup at full stretch yesterday. With nearly 20 knots of west -north-westerly at the start and piping up to 25 knots as the race progressed, these powerful machines ate up the miles and were back on their berths by mid-afternooon.

Battle was rejoined by the two 88-foot Wallys, Luca Bassani again trying to outpace in Tiketitoo his former yacht, Tiketitan, now campaigned by former German racing car driver Thomas Bscher with Adam Bateman of Britain as his racing skipper.

They were close all the way round, but another fine start by Tiketitan gave her an early edge which she never gave up and, for the second day running, she was first of the pair across the finish line. Neither could save their handicap, however, and it was the turn of Mattia Medici’s optimistically named Askherout to take the top prize for the day.

The more stately entrants such as the 180-foot Adela and the 140-foot Antonisa were also enjoying a romp in the sort of breeze which is meat and drink to these spectacular members of the ‘Heavy’ division. Even going upwind, Adela was tramping along at a steady 12.4 knots and power reaching was cutting a mighty swathe through the blue and turquoise waves. But it was not enough to stop Harry Macklowe’s 122′ foot Unfurled winning on handicap.

Working hard to outwit the opposition, Jim Dolan’s American crew on the IMS maxi Sagamore made a cunning move between two islands to move up from third to first in class for a while. But, despite spinnaker reaching at over 15 knots, she was again overhauled by the longer and more modern Idea, racing under the Italian flag for Raffaele Raiola.

But even he could not stop PierLuigi Loro Piana’s My Song pipping him by two minutes on handicap. And Carlo Perrone’s Virtuelle, with Olympic gold medallist Thierry Peponnet on the helm, notched up her second successive win in the division for cruisers under 30 metres.

But Sagamore was in the bad books of Riccardo Bonadeo’s Rrose Selavy, with America’s Cup skipper Mauro Pelaschier on the helm. The Italians lodged a formal protest over a right of way dispute in the pre-start manoeuvring. One of the most senior authorities on such matters, Sweden’s Goran Petersson with four other international jurors to adjudicate.

Other than that, Pelaschier was beaming from ear to ear about a race which allowed the maxis to perform to their full potential. “It was a beautiful sail,” he said.

Even though, just to catch them all out, the power was suddenly turned off as the yachts approached the final turning mark in the quiet cove of Piccolo Pevero, just to the south-east of the entrance to the harbour of Porto Cervo. “It was like running into a bath full of blancmange,” said one crew member. “There were yachts 100 metres apart, heading in the same direction, and one could be under spinnaker while the other was hard on the wind.”

Under the hill which overlooks the finishing line they all had to readjust both their tactical thinking and the combination of sails to power them home as the north-westerly in which they had raced all day met the south-easterly which blows up from Olbia.

With the Mistral-influenced wind expected to build to over 30 knots last night, the race committee was keeping all options open for the third race today.