With a rigorous Caribbean circuit in the rearview mirror, Bella Mente Racing looks ahead to even more challenging battles on the horizon as the team prepares for its European racing tour, which kicks off next month with Palma Vela in Mallorca, Spain. The team’s namesake Maxi 72 is currently being transported across the Atlantic where it will be unloaded and prepped for the regatta.
“We had a very successful practice and race period in the Caribbean, which allowed the crew to get back on the same page with the same intensity,” said Bella Mente’s Owner/Driver Hap Fauth, adding that the team started the 2017 season on a high note, winning IRC Overall, CSA Overall and CSA 1 at the RORC Caribbean 600 in Antigua in February.
However, it was a different story for Bella Mente Racing at Les Voiles de St. Barth in April, with the team finishing fourth overall in the Maxi 1 Class, five points behind winner Proteus, also a Maxi 72. “The outcome at Les Voiles de St. Barth was definitely self-inflicted, with Bella Mente being over the start early for one of the three races.”
At Les Voiles de St. Barth, there is no option for a premature starter to return to the line and restart; instead, a 10% penalty is added to the boat’s final time upon finishing the race. Bella Mente continued to sail a fantastic race, taking first place on corrected time, but due to the penalty fell to sixth, which ultimately hurt the team’s overall ranking.
“These were the first two times we’ve been together in 2017, and I can’t think of a better environment to get our international team back together than in Antigua and St. Barth. I think it will make us that much stronger as we look ahead to what is shaping up to be an exciting European circuit,” added Fauth.
After wrapping up Palma Vela in May, the team will relocate to Greece in July for the inaugural Corfu Challenge – developed this year solely for the Maxi 72 Class. Later that month, it’s back to Mallorca for Copa del Rey MAPFRE. The season culminates with the Rolex Maxi 72 World Championship in Porto Cervo, Italy in September. At this final and most significant event, Fauth and his Bella Mente team will push for their fourth World Championship title.
“I know the team is looking forward to the job ahead and the opportunity to cross tacks with some of the best teams in the world,” said Tactician Terry Hutchinson, adding that Bella Mente will be seeing a lot more competition from the Maxi 72 Class in Europe. “We will be going head-to-head with Proteus again, and this will also be our first opportunity to see the new Botin-designed Cannonball and the revamped Momo. The anticipation is a bit nerve-racking, as we have great respect for these teams, and we know that we have a big task ahead to be successful.”
by Kirsten Ferguson