Rolex Swan Cup 2006
Thursday, September 14, 2006 -
Photo credit: Kurt Arrigo / Rolex
Monsoon Jaguar claims line honours in the Classic Fleet, with Favonius first to finish in the Grand Prix division. Fever leads the Swan 45s, Artemis the Swan 601s.
After three days of racing Peter Simon's Monsoon Jaguar has yet to be beaten on the water, with the British entry claiming line honours for the third successive race. The Swan 65, sistership of Sayula II, the Swan that won the first ever Whitbread, was the first boat to return home to the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda after the long distance race.
The long distance race was dominated by blustery and varied conditions - southeasterly winds ranging from 7 to 25 knots, heavy to flat seas, rain squalls and sunshine. Monsoon proved most at home in the torrential rain and squally conditions encountered by the sailors today, with the British crew racing in conditions that would have reminded them of home waters if it had been a few degrees cooler.
Navigator Mike Broughton commented: "We've been helped throughout the day by the wind moving right (to the east). We made a very big gain on the rest of our division with a tack across the Straits of Bonifaccio once round the top of mark of the course at Levezzi. We were able to move away from the other boats in our class."
"On the long beat back we saw mainly 14 knots, with a short period when it went up to 18. With the wind going right, we concentrated on long tacks on port and this has favoured us. I think with the wind dropping it's going to be a long haul for the others."
For the round the world sailors in the fleet, the weather conditions seen today are just business as usual. Whitbread winner Paul Cayard, sailing on Leonardo Ferragamo's Cuor di Leone, has seen all this and more in the Southern Ocean. For Russell Coutts, whose skills are more commonly associated with the inshore world of the America's Cup, the conditions are more unusual. On the water though, Coutts continues to show that whatever the Costa Smeralda throws at him this week he and the crew of Torben Torquist's Artemis are more than capable of handling. Currently engaged in an 80-mile match race with Moneypenny, the American Swan 601 owned by Jim Swartz which is also loaded with America's Cup and Whitbread/Volvo veterans such as Mark Rudiger, Kimo Worthington and Dee Smith, Artemis looks to be making her overall lead in the series even more secure.
Combat in the equally competitive Swan 45 fleet is just as fierce in true One-Design style, with the first three boats in the race - Fever, Swantastic and series leader DSK - separated only by a few boat lengths as they beat down the penultimate leg of what is proving an extremely testing distance course.
Life is no less difficult in the Grand Prix fleet, where the Volvo skills of Roy Heiner are no doubt an invaluable asset on the leading yacht, the Swan 80 Favonius.
Last night Porto Cervo was hit by the forecasted low front and all the crews have faced quite challenging conditions, especially in the initial and final parts of the race, with southeasterly winds of over 20 knots and heavy seas. A number of boats have retired from the race with damage. There have been two man-overboard incidents. Both were quickly recovered and brought ashore for precautionary medical checks.
The Grand Prix, Swan 601 and Swan 45 fleets have been sailing on a challenging zig-zag course of 76 miles, which led the crews to an initial windward mark and then throughout the Archipelago de La Maddalena, using the many islands and semi-submerged rocks as marks. The fleet returns to Porto Cervo on an outer route around the archipelago.
First to round the windward mark was Roel Pieper's Swan 80 Favonius (BVI) with America's Cup, Round the World and Olympic veteran Roy Heiner on board, followed by the James R. Swartz's Swan 601 Monepenny (USA) with America's Cup and round the world veteran Dee Smith calling the tactics. Third at the mark was Italy's Swan 100 S Fantasticaaa, co-owned by Lanfranco Cirillo and Leonid Mikchalson (since retired). The boats then tackled a challenging run under spinnaker to the Monaci rocks, in heavy seas and winds gusting to 25 knots, before gybing and reaching into the channel.
The Swan 45 fleet had an even start and reached the windward mark in a tight pack, with Klaus Diederichs and Grant Gordon's Fever (GBR) in the lead and at last showing more of their expected form, followed by Mario Rabḅ helming Swantastic (FIN), and Danilo Salsi's DSK Comifin (ITA), current overall leader of the division.
Once inside the channel, the Grand Prix, Swan 601s and Swan 45s converged with the Classics, which are sailing a shorter course and benefited from a more direct route from the first mark to the entrance of the archipelago. At this point, everyone benefited from a respite from the rough conditions encountered at the start. Met by a decreasing breeze, smooth and protected waters, the crews found themselves in completely different situation having to play frequent shifts in 7 - 8 knots of wind.
The Swan 45 fleet, sailing past the islands of S. Stefano and La Maddalena, enjoyed some really close racing gradually mixing up with the tail enders in Grand Prix and the majority of the Classic division. At the Barettinelli mark rounding, where the crews dropped their spinnakers to sail upwind towards the Isle of Spargi, Favonius maintained a comfortable lead over the fleet. Second at the mark was Torbjorn Tornquist's Swan 601 Artemis (SWE) who, with America's Cup legend Russell Coutts calling the tactics, had overtaken Moneypenny. Massimo Dentice's Swan 70 Bugia Bianca rounded in third, second in the Grand Prix division ahead of Stuart Robinson's Swan 70 Stay Calm with America's Cup veteran and recent Rolex Farr 40 Worlds winner, Adrian Stead, calling the tactics.
The leaders of the Swan 45 fleet reached the Barettinelli in the same order as at the previous mark, with Fever in the lead, chased by Swantastic and DSK - all three boats separated only by a couple of boat lengths.
The next leg led the fleet downwind to the French rocks of Lavezzi in the middle of the insidious Bocche di Bonifacio, the straits that divide Sardinia from the French island of Corsica, with the fleet still fighting in a tight pack. Monsoon Jaguar was the first to arrive and reported hardening up onto the wind with the prospect of a long beat home. At the Lavezzi rounding, Favonius was still leading among the Grand Prix, Artemis in the Swan 601 and Fever in the Swan 45s.
Tomorrow the crews will enjoy a lay-day, which will probably include a well deserved rest, plenty of work on-board and more training at sea, especially for the highly competitive Swan 45 and Swan 601 One-Design fleets. Racing resumes on Saturday, September 16th.
The 14th edition of the biennial Rolex Swan Cup, organised by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda with the collaboration of Nautor's Swan and Rolex as title sponsor, runs from from September 11th to September 17th.
A full race report and results will follow tomorrow morning.
For more information about this event, go to the Event Page.