It was a showdown for the ages this year at Palma Vela in Mallorca, with competitors in the Maxi 72 Class fighting tooth-and-nail to the very end. After completing a full complement of six races over five days, Hap Fauth’s Bella Mente, along with Dieter Schon’s Momo and Dario Ferrari’s new Cannonball shared the same nine-point score as well as the same number of first-, second- and third-place finishes.
Per tiebreaker rules, the three-way tie was broken by order of finish in the event’s final race, which took place Sunday (May 7) over a coastal course of 28 nautical miles. Cannonball, which won the race, claimed overall victory, while Bella Mente, which finished second, took the podium in runner-up position.
“If you’re out on the water watching these races you can see how tight the competition is, with the boats constantly trading positions and finishing within minutes and sometimes seconds of each other,” said Fauth, a three-time Rolex Maxi 72 World Champion whose team just completed its 2017 Caribbean racing circuit. “It just goes to show how the class lineup is as strong as ever right now. Our team moved ahead in many key areas during this regatta, and we know we’ll be faster through the water next time we sail. We’re keeping our eyes on the prize, which is winning the 2017 Rolex Maxi 72 World Championships in September. In order to achieve that we need to keep our heads down and our rate of improvement high.”
Fauth races with a team of 20 world-class sailors, including two-time Rolex Yachtsman of the Year Terry Hutchinson, two-time Olympian Adrian Stead and Volvo Ocean Race champion Mike Sanderson, all three of whom join him in the after guard.
“I think all three boats were quite even this week, and given that we hadn’t done any modifications to prepare for our Mediterranean circuit prior to the regatta, we feel very confident about our performance moving forward,” said Sanderson adding that the team finished racing in the Caribbean just two weeks before their first sail in Palma; although it was a push to get the crew and boat on the water, the opportunity to line up against the new boat Cannonball as well as Momo, which had some major performance updates done, was too good to pass up. “The week was tricky, with Palma turning on a wide variety of conditions and unbelievably tight racing in the Maxi 72 Class.
“Momo came out swinging on the first day, winning both races, so we knew we would have to up our game across the board. The next day, we won a race and Cannonball won a race, which really shuffled the deck and from there, it was game on. I think all three teams came away from this event having learned an awful lot; we are excited to see the developments to come for the rest of the 2017 season.”
The Maxi 72s will all meet on the battlefield again in July for the inaugural Corfu Challenge in Greece followed by Copa del Rey MAPFRE in Mallorca, before taking the stage in Sardinia, Italy for the Rolex Maxi 72 World Championship.