The first day of the 2018 Monaco Swan One Design held more than just promise, with the Yacht Club de Monaco Race Committee led by Ariane Mainemare laying on three quick-fire races for the assembled fleet.
Racing proved as close as anticipated across the three classes and all participants were rewarded with some exceptional competition. With an excellent opening day’s racing under the belt everyone competing might consider themselves a winner, but today’s high-rollers off Monte Carlo were definitely: Leonardo Ferragamo’s Cuordileone in ClubSwan 50s, Luis Senis Segarra’s Porron IX in Swan 45s and Lorenzo Mondo’s Far Star in ClubSwan 42s.
The day began quietly. A thin zephyr in the harbour suggested crews could be in for a long wait. Hope was on the horizon with various forecasts predicting a sea breeze would be established by 13.00 CEST. And, so it was. The AP (postponement flag) ashore was lowered at 11.15 and the first start was signalled at 12.30. All three races were held in 8 -12 knots of principally south-southwest flow, with the four-leg courses ranging between 4.6 and 5.2 nautical miles.
Master tactician Ken Read may never have sailed off Monaco before, but he comes with a bundle of experience to draw upon – twice a Rolex US Yachtsman of the Year, twice a Volvo Ocean Race skipper, twice an America’s Cup helmsman, not to mention a nine-time world champion. Prior to racing, Read had said of the Italian Cuordileone team, led by Nautor’s Swan President Leonardo Ferragamo, that: “Expectations for the week are obviously very high. It’s a small fleet, but a very competitive one. Nothing can be taken for granted, but we’ve sailed together for a while and expect good things. It is going to be hard, but we are up to the challenge.”
And, up to the challenge they were. Leading the ClubSwan 50 fleet around the course on race one, snatching victory on the final leg of race two, and finishing second in the third race. With 90 seconds or less separating the top three boats in each race, margins for error were small. Read was glad to have the tactical support of Daniele Cassinari who is familiar with these waters, although as Read remarked wryly after racing: “It was so shifty today I’m not sure there was such a thing as local knowledge.”
Swiss yacht Mathilde, owned by Morten Kielland, took the fight to Cuordileone throughout the afternoon, but lies third overnight. The Russian team, Skorpidi, tied on points with Mathilde, hold second by virtue of a convincing win in the third race. Navigator, Nacho Postigo confirmed Read’s view that the conditions were difficult to decipher, but were better than expected. “It was quite an open racetrack with the wind jumping between 205 and 230. There were big moments when the left was massive and guys going there made huge gains. Then, suddenly, big gains on the right,” Postigo explained, continuing: “It was difficult to choose the moment to switch sides. Cuordileone did a very good job in reading that. It was a good day’s racing, though. I expected it to be a little bit softer, but we were sailing between 8 at the lightest and 12 knots.”
In the Swan 45 class Luis Senis Segarra’s Porron IX continued where she left off last season. The 2017 Swan 45 World Champion leads the class overnight by one point from Italian/Swiss competitor Ange Transparent 2, whose owner/driver Valter Pizzoli had this to say: “It was relatively easy sailing because the wind was not big, around 10 knots. But, there were competitors, very clever competitors. We are happy with the results today – first, second, second – but we want to be better tomorrow. We want first, first, first!”
Pizzoli has been living in Monaco for three years, so he is used to racing in these waters and enjoys it: “Monte Carlo is not an easy place to sail, because the wind can change direction frequently, but it is exciting.”
Far Star made the running on the first day of the 2017 Nations Trophy, only to see her lead slip over the ensuing days. After an exceptional day on the water, with three bullets, Italian Owner/Driver Lorenzo Mondo, racing with Slovenian tactician Branko Brcin, is focused on avoiding a repeat scenario at the Monaco Swan One Design: “It was hard racing, but it feels normal for us. We always seem to win the first day, but the other days are not great. So, we hope that tomorrow we can repeat the results and stay in first position.”
Mondo is also racing here for the first time and agreed that the biggest challenge today was the instability of the wind: “It would be 8 knots, then 12 knots and then quickly back to 8. This made it a little bit tough to find the right side of the course, but we have a good tactician so we succeeded.”
“Winning once is easy,” according to Mondo, “Continuing to win is hard. We need to remain focussed on our target to have fun and to win if it is possible. It’s a beautiful place and we are enjoying ourselves.”
For both the Yacht Club de Monaco and Nautor’s Swan today was an excellent one, properly marking the beginning of a long hoped for partnership. After a great day on the water personally, Leonardo Ferragamo was quick to acknowledge the satisfaction of all concerned in getting the event underway in a positive manner: “I’m delighted that we have the first ever Swan dedicated event in Monte Carlo. It has been a long time that we were dreaming to do it and I am especially glad it is happening with the first event of The Nations Trophy Mediterranean League. It was a very good start today, quite technical racing and exciting.”
Racing at the Monaco Swan One Design continues tomorrow, 29 March, with the first signal scheduled for 11.00 CEST.
by The Nations Trophy