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2023 IMA Maxi Europeans grows in quality and quantity

by James Boyd / International Maxi Association 21 Mar 20:36 GMT 12-18 May 2023
Inshore and coastal racing at the IMA Maxi Europeans has Capri as a backdrop © IMA / Studio Borlenghi

Pre-registration for the International Maxi Association's second Maxi European Championship ended on Wednesday with the entry list already exceeding the 25 that participated in 2022.

For a second year the IMA Maxi European Championship will be part of Tre Golfi Sailing Week, run by the Naples-based Circolo del Remo e della Vela Italia (CRVI) in conjunction with the IMA, the body officially tasked by World Sailing to administer and develop maxi yacht racing internationally. It is raced under IRC with all entries required to have IRC Endorsed certificates.

Taking place over 12-18 May, the IMA Maxi Europeans will again start with the CRVI's Regata dei Tre Golfi offshore race, leaving Naples at 1700 on 12 May and this year finishing off Sorrento. It will be followed by four days of inshore and coastal racing, based out of Sorrento, with courses on the Bay of Naples, including the popular course around Capri, if conditions allow.

The scratch boat this year will again be Furio Benussi's 100ft Arca SGR. In 2022 Arca SGR comfortably claimed line honours in the light wind Regata dei Tre Golfi, despite in the last miles suffering the failure of the hydraulic ram vital to cant her keel. Hopefully this is now resolved as an entirely new Cariboni hydraulic system is being fitted ready for this season.

This year she will face the Reichel/Pugh 90 La Bete Portopiccolo Prosecco DOC. Originally launched as Alfa Romeo 1, she won Rolex Sydney Hobart line honours in 2002, the year before Arca SGR did under her original name, Skandia. Then as George David's first Rambler maxi she won much silverware and in 2007 set a Rolex Middle Sea Race record that would stand for 14 years.

They will be joined on the Bay of Naples this year by another Adriatic-based maxi - Alberto Leghissa's 2000 vintage Frers 63 canting keeler Anywave-Safilens, which last competed at this regatta in 2018.

Nipping at the heels of Arca SGR will be the Club Swan 80 My Song of Pier Luigi Loro Piana, which made her race debut at last September's Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup. Over the winter My Song has undergone refinement including the fitting of a larger/more efficient canard and the removal of 400kg from her canting keel's bulb. Once again she will be sailing with an all-star cast on board, including North Sails President Ken Read on tactics and strategist Alberto Bolzan.

Competition will again be hottest between the former Maxi 72s which this year number five. Last year Sir Peter Ogden's Jethou and Peter Dubens' North Star enjoyed a great match race, with North Star winning the Regata dei Tre Golfi and finishing second overall, just 0.75 points behind Terry Hui's Lyra, the 2022 IMA Maxi European Champion.

"If it hadn't been for that last wind hole in the last kilometre of the last race..." mused North Star tactician Nick Rogers, himself a two time European champion in the Olympic 470 dinghy. "I am really looking forward to it. With a championship like this, it is nice to get the title - it gives it more prestige. Plus Peter [Dubens] loves the Bay of Naples and the great course around Capri - it was really good last year."

Of more concern are three additional heavyweights joining them this year, including Jim Swartz's Vesper (Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup winner in 2022), Dario Ferrari's Cannonball (MYRC winner in 2019 and 2021) and George Sakellaris' Proteus, second at last year's MYRC. "It is nice to have more competition," continues Rogers. "I would put Vesper as one of the best IRC boats on the planet."

In the group below, several yachts are returning including the two canting keelers - Guido Paolo Gamucci's Mylius 60 Cippa Lippa X and Fabio Cannavale's Baltic 78 Lupa of the Sea - plus the smart looking Persico-built Felci 65.G of Gabriele Guerzoni. They are joined by Jean-Philippe Blanpain's Vismara/Mills 62 Leaps and Bounds 2 and the chartered Marten 72 Aragon, both heavily campaigned maxis. Also entered is the Wally 80 Tilakkhana, back on the race track for the first time in five years.

At the IMA Maxi Europeans in 2022, the tightest finish was in class 3 where Vincenzo Addessi's Mylius 60 Fra' Diavolo, Riccardo de Michele's Vallicelli 78 H2O and IMA President Benoît de Froidmont's Wally 60 Wallyño finished the inshore with a three-way tiebreak, but with Wallyño winning the class overall thanks to her better Regata dei Tre Golfi result. H2O and Wallyño are returning.

"I am pleased that the IMA has introduced this European Championship for maxi yachts," said de Froidmont, whose Wallyño ended up fourth overall in 2022. "Even after one edition it feels like a prestigious title to win and I hope to at least get on the podium this year. The race course - the Bay of Naples and around Capri - are exceptional and our IMA members appreciate the work put in on this event by our partners in Sorrento and the CRVI."

Lining up with Wallyño will be Carlo A. Puri Negri's much campaigned Farr/Felci 78 Atalanta 2 and Andrea Fornaro's Swan 60 Sea Quill, plus several Mylius yachts. They include the two 60s, Manticore of Franz Wilhelm Baruffaldi Preis and Jean-Pierre Dreau's Lady First III and Aldo Parisotto's Mylius 65 Oscar3.

"I am really looking forward to be back on the race course again," notes Aldo Parisotto. "The IMA Maxi Europeans will be the first of three events for Oscar3 this year. I was not in Sorrento last year, but this year I decided to enter." Racing on board this year will be upcoming talent including Ettore Botticini, skipper in the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda's 'Young Azzurra' program, with Maurizio Loberto navigating. "Hopefully we will build a good team as we've done in the past."

Meanwhile Mauro Bini's Felci 62 Barrique3, Luca Scoppa's Dehler 60 Blue Oyster and the classic Swan 65 Shirlaf of Giuseppe Puttini are the lowest rated entries, but no less successful: Shirlaf won on these waters in 2021.

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