Sunday 25 May 2014

Rolex Capri Sailing Week : Frustration on the Bay of Naples

Esimit Europa 2 (SLO) and Jethou (GBR) head to head off Capri. Image copyright Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi

by Maria Luisa Farris

Conditions on the Bay of Naples failed to co-operate for a second consecutive day. The Rolex Capri Sailing Week race committee twice called the fleet out on to the water, the 52 Super Series to sail windward-leewards, the Maxi fleet to compete a coastal race. However both times the wind failed to stabilise enough for the race committee even to begin a start sequence.

Principal Race Officer, Peter ‘Luigi’ Reggio, exercised his frustration: “There were times when there were zero knots, then the wind would come in at 170° and then 240° - it was just all over the place. It was two breezes fighting, the sea breeze trying to come in from the southeast and another one was trying to come in from the west. Every time a cell came through it just killed it.”

On the two occasions when the wind stabilised enough, the fleet ventured out to the start zone only for Mother Nature to let them down. On the second occasion, mid-afternoon, the boats arrived only for the wind to shift hard right and to die once again.

Expert forecaster Mike Broughton, navigator on Sir Peter Ogden’s Mini Maxi Jethou, explained: “We got an intense trough line which went through this morning at 0500 with lots of wind and rain. Then a second came across bringing thunderstorms and 30 knots in Sardinia, but since then it has got a bit shy and slowly dissipated.”

On a positive note, Broughton’s pre-regatta predictions have finally come to pass. “I keep going to do the Volcano Race and warn ‘this is a light area’ and then it’s blown 30 knots!”

Steve Hayles, navigator on Niklas Zennström’s Rán Racing, competing in the 52 Super Series fleet at Rolex Capri Sailing Week, said that they were expecting the conditions to prevent racing today. “It is the remnants of a cold front from days and days ago that’s drifted into the area. The wind was just massively unstable."

Fortunately the conditions are looking much better for tomorrow, the final day of racing. As Peter Reggio anticipates: “The forecast is the best of the week, so we are pushing racing forwards by an hour. They are saying that at 1100 we should have 8 knots, building to 13. It is the most aggressive forecast we’ve seen all week.”

Mike Broughton believes the wind tomorrow will be a more steady northwesterly, while Steve Hayles says that its strength will still depend upon a thermal breeze developing: “There is no gradient around. If the skies clear up then hopefully a 8-10 knot sea breeze will come in and it will be fine. We had great conditions here during training, it’s just been unfortunate for the last couple of days. So fingers crossed for tomorrow.”

Tonight, Rolex Capri Sailing Week’s magnificent social schedule continues with the ‘Rolex Dinner Party’ at Canzone del Mare (Song of Sea) in the Marina Piccola. Held on the site of a small fort, where the Sirens were once supposed to sit and sing to lure sailors on to the rocks, the property with its lido was initially made famous by English/Italian singer Gracie Fields. Its notoriety gained in the 1950-60s when the beach club was frequented by the jet including Sophia Loren, Audrey Hepburn, Jackie Kennedy and Aristotle Onassis, Princess Grace of Monaco, Elizabeth Taylor and Brigitte Bardot among many others as well as being the inspiration for Noël Coward's “A bar on the Piccola Marina.”

However for the crews it will be case of going home early. Because of the lack of racing over the last two days, the start tomorrow is being brought forwards to 1100. The latest time a start can be given is at 1530. The prizegiving will be held at Marina Grande at 1800.

For more information on Rolex Capri Sailing Week and the International Maxi Association and results - visit