Today at Porto Cervo, Sardinia, the third race of the Rolex Cup was a short, sharp, 20-mile affair that tested both the fitness and the boat handling skills of the crews

The Maxis made an impressive line-up today at Porto Cervo for the third race of the Rolex Cup. It was a short, sharp, 20-mile affair that tested both the fitness and the boat handling skills of the crews

Just to add a little extra power to what is already a high octane occasion, there was a special prize, the Bentley Trophy, for fastest time over a measured mile.

This was supposed to be a day off for the 25 yachts and their crews, but Mistral conditions had forced a postponement for the Wednesday schedule so racing was transferred to today.

Conditions were near perfect at the start, flat seas, sunshine and a steady 16 knot westerly breeze and there had been a renewed sense of purpose from early in the morning. The opening leg was a 7.3-mile beat deep into the Golfo delle Saline and, as has become standard practice, the IMS maxis were led by the Italian colours of Raffaele Naiola’s Idea and the Stars and Stripes of Jim Dolan’s Sagamore.

Raiola had the edge at the end by a tiny 18 seconds, and the margin by which he beat Sagamore to take the Bentley Trophy was just five seconds. However, the class handicap winner was one of the smallest boats in the regatta, Ernesto Gismondi’s 65-foot Frers-design, Edimetra.

Also continuing their week-long battle were the two 88-foot Wallys of Luca Bassani, also of Italy, and Thomas Bscher of Germany. It had been 2-0 both on the water and on handicap to Bscher so far. But, this time Bassani, with tactician Tom Whidden taking time off from running North Sails and preparing to call tactics for Dennis Conner’s helmsman Kenny Read in the next Cup, fashioned their best start of the week.

It looked as if it would be third time lucky, but problems with both the spinnaker pole and the asymmetric gennaker, meant they were seriously underpowered on the long final leg and Tiketitan made it a hat-trick. Also taking the gentle way home was the 77-foot Wally Vae Victis, owned by the 29-year old venture capitalist Alessandro Grande, as they, too had ripped their gennaker.

Tiketitoo was not the only one having spinnaker problems. Coming back out of the Saline was a tight reach with the wind piping up to a solid 18 knots. As the yachts went round an island fortification they had to drop the spinnakers and go back to conventional headsails.

The billowing acres of cloth seemed to develop a wild will of their own as all available hands rushed to gather them aboard. But one man who remained calm throughout was George Lindemann.

The owner of the 180-foot Adela just watched and calmly enjoyed a refreshing drink as 16 of his crew pulled in the huge, white sail which had been flying from the foremast, while the magnificent schooner sailed majestically onwards at a steady 14 knots. In the ‘Heavy’ cruiser division, they were second by only 74 seconds to Harry Macklowe’s 112-foot German Frers-design, Unfurled.

Racing continues tomorrow?