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13 maxis for 151 Miglia-Trofeo Cetilar

by James Boyd / International Maxi Association 31 May 23:33 BST From 1 June 2023
Dario Castiglia's Baltic 65 RE/MAX One2 - 151 Miglia-Trofeo Cetilar © Fabio Taccola

The 14th 151 Miglia-Trofeo Cetilar starts tomorrow (1 June) at 1400 CEST, its 200-strong fleet featuring 13 maxi yachts. The event continues the International Maxi Association's 2022-23 Mediterranean Maxi Offshore Championship, following last autumn's Rolex Middle Sea Race and the recent Regata dei Tre Golfi.

Organised by Yacht Club Punta Ala, Yacht Club Livorno and Yacht Club Repubblica Marinara di Pisa, the 151 Miglia-Trofeo Cetilar is scheduled to follow its usual course from Livorno up to Marina di Pisa; southwest to the Giraglia rock off north Corsica; southeast, passing Elba, to the race's southerly turning mark, the Formiche di Grosseto rocks; before returning north to the Punta Ala finish.

This year two boats are likely to be fighting it out for line honours. ARCA SGR was to race their 100 footer until they sustained damage during the Regata dei Tre Golfi. As their yacht is repaired, they have joined forces with another Trieste-based maxi, the 90ft Shockwave 3, which for this race is renamed ARCA Shockwave 3 Prosecco Doc.

However she will face stiff competition from the 100ft Black Jack - recently arrived from Australia to compete in this season's Mediterranean circuit. By coincidence both boats were originally Alfa Romeos launched by Kiwi Neville Crichton - the water-ballasted 90 footer was his Rolex Sydney Hobart line honours winner in 2002 while the longer, canting keel/CBTF Black Jack was first home in 2009. The former achieved huge success as George David's first Rambler maxi, including scoring the 'triple' (overall and line honours and race record) in the 2007 Rolex Middle Sea Race. The latter went on to have an epic career in the Mediterranean as Igor Simcic's Esimit Europa 2 and she still holds race records for the Rolex Giraglia and Palermo-Montecarlo.

Harburg explains their coming to the Med: "I have been sailing for a long time and we have done every race in Australia 50 times. It is nice to broaden your horizons, so we agreed among the crew that the circuit in Europe would be great." While the crew is largely Aussie, a few Kiwis have slipped on including legendary tactician Brad Butterworth, who currently holds the 151 Miglia-Trofeo Cetilar course record of 13 hours, 50 minute 43 seconds, which he helped George David's Rambler 88 set in 2019.

For Harburg this race will be his first ever in the Med, however he is hopeful given his yacht's record: "Our boat has been very successful in the Med and loves light wind and flat water." During his tenure Black Jack has had her bow lengthened and stern shortened while her forward canard can now not only be steered, but raised too.

Another boat visiting the Med is the VO70 I Love Poland, winner of the IMA's Caribbean Maxi Challenge in 2022. As ever the team, under skipper Grzegorz Baranowski, is a vehicle to train young Polish sailors but has achieved exceptional results along the way, this year also winning the IMA trophy for line honours in January's RORC-IMA Transatlantic Race.

The hottest competition will be among the 60 something footers. Leading the charge will be Guido Paolo Gamucci's heavily campaigned canting keel Mylius 60 Cippa Lippa X. Having finished last year's race second overall, Aldo Parisotto is back with his Mylius 65 OSCAR3 but will face tough competition from RE/MAX One 2, the Baltic 65 skippered by Dario Castiglia.

"I love this race. It is not too long and not too short - it is very nice," says Parisotto for whom this race will be at least his eighth. "It is amazing to see the Giraglia." The race is also straightforward, as OSCAR3's homeport is La Spezia, nearby. "We have a lot of boats this year to race against, like RE/MAX. I am very curious to see this match." Not least since his old tactician is now racing with the opposition.

Then there is the smart Persico-built P65. G of Gabriele Guerzoni, Alessandro Pini's Grand Soleil Maxi One Ely-J, Federico de Lisi's Mylius 60 Aria and the much campaigned Farr 60 Durlindana 3 of Giancarlo Gianni.

An issue with this year's race is likely to be the forecast. 24 hours out there remains much disagreement between the models, but generally all are light, showing high pressure over the race area causing chaos for the wind direction, although one model indicates good breeze tomorrow afternoon to the north of the race area, but still has the fleet sailing into a giant hole en route to Giraglia.

Renowned Italian tactician Tommaso Chieffi, who is competing on ARCA Shockwave 3 Prosecco Doc, is more optimistic: "It looks like it will be light-ish 8-10 knots on Thursday and slightly better, up to 12 on Friday - a reach to Giraglia and then a bit of upwind and then freeing up. So I don't think it will be a record year - the favourites are likely to be Black Jack and us."

The race committee is set to make a call tomorrow at the start as to whether or not they will shorten course. They have two additional options, one removing the Giraglia rock from the course, the other removing Formiche di Grosseto.

However, among the maxi yachts star of the show will certainly be Flying Nikka, the 60ft AC75-style foiling monohull of Roberto Lacorte, who is also the 151 Miglia's founder and its sponsor, promoting one of his pharmaceutical company's products - Cetilar.

Wearing his race organiser hat Lacorte says: "For another year we have exceeded 200 boats, confirming that the 151 Miglia-Trofeo Cetilar has become a race in which all offshore sailors want to compete. We are very happy because a huge amount of work takes place over the course of a year to make this happen, so it's always a pleasure to reap the rewards of this commitment. Unfortunately this year the weather will be unknown - there's the risk of having very little wind, but it's part of the game and it's an aspect we can't control, so we have to accept it. In any case, it will be a 151 Miglia full of emotions...."

Sadly the conditions are unlikely to be optimal for Flying Nikka to show off her foiling potential despite work carried out over the winter to her sails, including a new concept of mainsail, increasing its power, and modifications to her rudder elevator shape. The culmination of this has dropped the wind strength required to see her take-off from 11 knots to nine.

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