The Maxi 72 World Championships are quickly approaching and Hap Fauth and his Bella Mente Racing team are going hard at it, working to improve boat speed with the goal of defending their title of World Champion for the third consecutive year.
The regatta – scheduled September 4-9 in Porto Cervo, Sardinia (Italy) – is the final and most important event on Bella Mente Racing’s calendar. It will host the most competitive Maxi 72 teams from around the world, and this year, the playing field is more stacked than ever.
“Our 2017 campaign has been challenging and mercurial from the get-go, and we have yet to find our rhythm,” said Tactician Terry Hutchinson, adding that Bella Mente Racing kicked off this year’s six-event campaign program on a high note with the overall win at the RORC Caribbean 600 in Antigua. The team fell short, however, just last month when it took fourth place behind rival Maxi 72s at Copa del Rey in Mallorca. “A lot of factors contribute to this, and yet in its simplest form, our competitors have mirrored Bella Mente’s winning approach over the 2015 and 2016 season,” said Hutchinson alluding to the performance of Momo, which took the Maxi 72 Class win at Copa del Rey. “That boat looks great and the team sailed very well. To win in Porto Cervo will require perfection and a bit of luck. Our crew is up to the task; it’s a matter of execution on the race course, boat speed, and confidence in the team.”
Launched in 2012, the 72-foot Bella Mente is a Judel/Vrolijk design and the oldest boat in the Maxi 72 fleet. Since it sports a hull shape much different than its newer counterparts, the team is constantly working on enhancements and modifications to keep the Maxi 72 in the game and competitive.
“The Maxi 72 fleet as a whole is just much faster this year,” said Owner/Driver Hap Fauth. “Our team is outstanding, but our performance this year is proof that there are things we can do to improve boat speed. Many of the Maxi 72 teams we’ll be going up against next month have made substantial improvements to their set-up, including jumping ahead of us in terms of their fitted keel bulb package, which has given them some advantage upwind, especially in winds above ten knots. “We’re in the process of making some major modifications to the boat to better prepare for the Worlds and hopefully that will be the game changer.”
For Fauth, attention to detail and extreme preparedness are keys to success in a program that has so many moving parts. “We travel with about 30 people and three 40-foot containers. In addition to the sailors, we have a shore crew to repair the boat when we aren’t on the water, a chef, and professional point people onsite to manage the hydraulics, sails, winches, carbon fiber…the list goes on.
“If the boat is broken, we can’t race, so the idea is that you have people there that can fix the boat almost irrespective of what the problem is. We also come fully prepared with quite an inventory of additional equipment, including sails, parts for all the hydraulics and winch systems. Pretty much anything else that moves on the boat, we have a duplicate for.”
In less than two weeks it is “all systems go” for the Maxi 72 Class, and Bella Mente Racing’s hard work will be put to the test.
“I think we’re ready to rock and roll and give them the best we have,” added Fauth. “Bring it on!”
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by Kirsten Ferguson