The big boys are arriving in town and one of them, the US-flagged 72-footer Bella Mente, with Volvo Race winner Mike Sanderson running the show, promptly bagged one of the two top trophies in AAM Cowes Week, the New York Yacht Club Challenge Cup.
Bella Mente is a 72-foot mini-maxi owned by Hap Fauth of Minneapolis (and Florida) and in the crew squad are some people well known in British sailing. The Kiwi Sanderson is crew boss, fellow Kiwi (from Manchester) is Olympic medallist John Cutler, and navigational expertise comes from Ian ‘Soapy’ Moore, who has strong links with the Isle of Wight.
The organisers, fearing a second breezy indifference, took the senior fleet east and out of the Solent to put some new names in the podium places. Niklas Zennstrôm’s Rán, an earlier version of Bella Mente from the Judel/Vrolijk drawing board, was second and the 100-foot Esmit Europa, determined to beat Mike Slade’s Leopard round the Fastnet Rock when the race starts on Sunday, was third.
Inside, on the traditional central Solent courses, the breeze threatened to soften away but then held up. Graham Bailey continued his winning run in the Dragon class while the Paton trio of Rory, Amanda and Stuart, led the 69-strong X One Design fleet home.
In La Rochelle Britain’s 470 women held third and fifth going into the sixth race of the 470 world championship 2012 Olympic silver medallists Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark taking part in a major regatta after a year-long lay-off. But in the moderate wind but shifting in direction, Mills and Clark slipped to eighth while Sophie Weguelin and Eilidh McIntyre are 11.
It was tight at the top of the men’s fleet where British silver medallist Luke Patience has teamed up with Joe Glanfield, whose former 470 partner Nick Rogers is now sailing with Elliot Willis. A win in one of the day’s races kept Patience and Glanfield in fourth but a 19 and a fourth pushed Rogers and Willis down to eighth.