Svea’s winning streak extended
September 6, 2023
Carlo Borlenghi / Francesco Ferri
As the J Class returned to windward leeward courses at the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup in Porto Cervo today, two further race wins for the Swedish flagged Svea means the team are well set to collect the top award for the three-boat class at Saturday’s prizegiving at the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda.
Racing in a sparkling 12-16kts of NNE’ly breeze with a bumpy sea state, the well drilled Velsheda crew did make Svea work especially hard for their second win of the day, but the team led by tactician Bouwe Bekking still remain unbeaten after five races, all of them sailed in great conditions.
With an expectation that the breeze would diminish in the afternoon, racing was brought forwards an hour to capitalize on the perfect winds. And while Svea again won the day, the other honours were shared between Velsheda and Topaz.
After a bitterly disappointing Tuesday when they tore two spinnakers in succession on the same awkward downwind, Topaz bounced back to a much better day. Notably they won both starts with strong positioning and pin sharp timing.
Typically in a three boat fleet opportunities knock when two boats pair up. On the first race Topaz let Svea away as they engaged Velsheda, whilst on the second race it was Velsheda which escaped, sailing high and fast on the first brisk upwind while Topaz held Svea out towards the left of the first beat.
Svea extended on the first race to win by 1 minute and 11 seconds on corrected time from Topaz. But although Velsheda crossed the line first after leading at every mark and sailing a very tidy race, they were left in second on corrected time, a tantalizing 21 seconds behind Svea.
Velsheda’s mainsheet trimmer Don Cowie was disappointed not to have saved their time against Svea after taking their second winning gun of the week, but he is loving the thrilling J Class racing. “The second race we sailed really well, Ronald (Velsheda’s owner) did a really nice job steering in these waves as they are difficult boats to sail. But it is pretty tough for us as we sailed a nice race, got some good shifts, good hoists, gybes, drops… We sailed well but we just can’t seem to win on handicap. It is very difficult.”
He continued, “Today we are just taking the cup for line honors! But the racing is just fantastic. But this is a difficult place to race J Class yachts because of the sea state, although the racing has been fantastic. We have had some great sailing. It is good fun. These boats are kind of dangerous and so you need to be surrounded by a good bunch of guys who really know what they are doing. And this boat is 90 years old. I am sailing around in a boat that was racing 90 years ago and I love that!”
Svea’s project manager and mainsheet trimmer Tim Powell is delighted the hard work and effort put in by their team is paying off. After five races and with two still to sail, their lead is seven points. “We are super excited about today,” said Powell, “Everything is just working really well and the crew are doing fantastic work.”
He recalled, “First race we got our noses ahead when Topaz and Velsheda were having a little battle between themselves and that was relatively good, and the second one we did not have a great start but we managed to battle past Topaz. At two thirds of the way up the beat we managed to squeeze them off which gave us some breathing room. The thing is the boat is going well, we are sailing the boat well, we have a great crew, Bouwe is making good calls. When things are going your way, they go your way.”
And Peter Holmberg, helm on Topaz was happy with the progress they are making. “Yesterday was a very hard day for everybody but we made a real mission out of sailing really well and we did that. We had good starts today and I had a lot of help from our bowman and navigator, these guys on these big boats really helpful. I feel like we have a good rhythm going in the starts and nailed two of them and we were going as well as we could upwind. We are very happy with everything but just not enough to get our competitors.”
Thursday is the lay day for all classes at the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, with racing resuming Friday and before Saturday’s final day.
1 Svea, corrected time 1h15m51s
2 Topaz 1h17m02s
3 Velsheda 1h18m04s
1 Svea 1h08m21s
2 Velsheda 1h08m42s
3 Topaz 1h09m21s
Overall Standings after 5 races
1 Svea 5pts
2 Velsheda 12pts
3 Topaz 14pts