08 September 2016
All Square in Sardinia

Velsheda moved the J Class match at the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup to all-square today on the Costa Smeralda when they got the better of Lionheart, leading all the way from the start line to the finish gun of a course which was shortened because of the fading, unsettled breeze. In the aftermath of the strong winds which cancelled racing Wednesday, the awkward leftover seas and uneven, mainly light wind pressure put a premium of maintaining boatspeed, minimising manoeuvres and smooth, fast helming. Indeed it was a day when both J Class Owner-drivers had to work especially hard and efficiently.

The course took the Super Maxi fleet on a two mile opening beat to the Alpha mark then south first, to round the little, rocky Mortorio and Soffi islands to starboard, dealing with the awkward transition zones, then in to the Kilo and Golf marks at the entrance to 'bomb alley' before finishing in the final vestiges of the breeze at Echo, by the Monachi islets.

After a lacklustre start on the opening day Velsheda proved they had learned from their mistakes and made the better start of the two Js, on the pin end of the start line, on the gun and sailing with pace. This time it was the older boat which won the first cross and was then able to sail their own race and extend away from Lionheart. The 'men in black' did close up a little bit towards the finish but in many respects this was a soldier's course with very little upwind, tactical work. "We did really make a decision to sail our own race. In these conditions you lose so much speed tacking and making manoeuvres and so a couple of times at least we did let Lionheart tack away and do their thing and we did ours and were the better for it." Commented Tom Dodson, tactician on Velsheda. "But in saying that our trimmers and our owner really did an exceptional job keeping the boat going well. We are much more comfortable in that light stuff now than we were say a year or two ago." "And we enjoyed the company of the Lionheart crew last night on the Bystander. Maybe our hospitality helped them overindulge?" grinned Dodson mischievously.

"Concentration really was the name of the game today in these soft and shifty conditions, especially towards the end of the race." Commented the Owner-helm of Velsheda.

"To be honest Velsheda just sailed better than us today. They were going better, got a good start – so did we – but they got away and that was pretty much it. It was game over for us really, there were no real opportunities to get back at them. We did a bit when they double tacked near the finish. But that's it, all square 1-1 at the moment. Bring on tomorrow." Bouwe Bekking the Lionheart tactician summarised.

In the Super Maxi class race Velsheda took sixth place today with Lionheart seventh. Inoui, the Briand designed lime green 108 footer won today's race, Race 2 of the regatta.

Velsheda © Martinez Studio
Lionheart © Martinez Studio