Light winds hit opening day of Nespresso Cup

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The Independent Online

The rain drifted away, the sun made an occasional bow, but light winds plagued the opening day of the Nespresso Cup at the picture postcard, oh-so-chic fishing village of Portofino, on the Italian coast east of Genoa.

Under the watching gaze of current America's Cup skipper Paul Cayard, former skipper, friend and rival Francesco de Angelis, and France's Loick Peyron, co-helmsman of the Alinghi catamaran in the recent America's Cup, the fleet waited for the southerly to develop into a racing breeze.

The track around the bay is a tricky one at the best of times, surrounded as it is by hills to interfere with the flow, but top prize went in the only race of the day to Piers Richardson's 80-foot J One. The boat has been winning for 23 years.

The driving force behind the establishment and building of the Wally yachts is Luca Bassani, who had previously relied on racing at other regattas in Sardinia, Palma de Mallorca, or St. Tropez to give his yachts and their owners a workout.

The Nespresso Cup is the first time that a regatta has been arranged only for Wally yachts and comes at a time that could have been inauspicious, given the turmoil in the financial markets over the last two years.

Bassani says that, after a slowdown in sales, there is renewed interest in his favourite size of about 100 feet - they come in at about €12m – and he now hopes to establish a 100-foot class of about five to eight over the next four years with designers being able to draw their own solutions within a set of dimension rules.

He hopes that the Nespresso Cup will become an annual event. "It provides some really tough racing," he said. "Although everyone loves gathering in places like Portofino, when the warning gun sounds it gets very serious, they really fight like hell."