Rolex Swan World Cup
By Barry Pickthall
After crowning a remarkable season of victories with his new Swan 601 Moneypenny, Jim Swartz was riding on air in the Sardinian playground sailing resort of Porto Cervo at summer's end, holding high the Rolex Swan World Cup. "'This is the best regatta I've ever raced in, the Park City, Utah, sailor enthused. "The setting with its rocky outcrops and narrow straits is just dramatic and the racing has been unbelievable. We've had every condition imaginable: During one tight eight-hour race we experienced everything from flat water to really rough seas and must have made between 30 to 40 sail changes. The all-carbon 601 is raced, like the Swan 45s, as a one-design fleet.
Results could not have been closer. Swartz and his all-star America's Cup crew (including tactician Dee Smith and navigator Mark Rudiger) had to win the last two races to stand any chance of taking the title. All week, they had been locked in battle against Torbjorn Tornquist's Swedish entry Artemisyet even after taking the last two finish guns, still found themselves tied on points. As both crews boasted three firsts and three seconds, they had to read up on the tie-break rules. Leonardo Ferragamo's Cuor di Leone, with Paul Cayard calling the tactics, ended the series in third.
Racing was just as tight among the Swan 45 fleet with Danilo Salsi's Italian entry DSK Comifin fending off a strong U.S. contingent led by Dick Weismann's Vixen and a record fleet of 30. Comifin, which had competed earlier this year in the centennial Bermuda Race and Onion Patch series, went into the last race of the series with a six-point lead over Vixen; Weismann and his New York crew had to finish in the top three and hope that the Comifin crew would have their worst day. In the end the Italians' fourth in the last race was insurmountable.
The result took none of the shine off Dick Weismann's opinion of the event. "The week has gone really well. We've enjoyed every day, even the rainy long distance race. Obviously we would have been happier still with first place but we're thrilled with our overall performance.
While the Swan 45 and Swan 601 One-Design classes raced without handicap, the Grand Prix and Classic yachts competed under the special NSR (Nautor Swan Rating) handicap system. This gives a rating allowance to yachts whose crews genuinely live and sleep on board their yacht for the duration of the regatta and is aimed at encouraging "family entries that carry extra weight and personal belongings while racing.
The Classic fleet, which included the first-ever Swan Tarantella, an S&S-designed 36, was won by Stephen James' Swan 48 Jacobite. William Kardash's American-entered Swan 44 Aura went into the final day knowing that a win would be sufficient to snatch overall victory but had to be content with second overall.
For many, the glittering social events on this, Nautor Swan's 40th anniversary, were as much a highlight as the racing. The parties took precedence over any protests and Jim Swartz, whose Moneypenny crew had already tasted victories earlier in the year at Key West, Miami, and the Swan North American regattas, was bowled over by the whole atmosphere. "The sportsmanship and hospitality here in Porto Cervo has been second to none. This is the best regatta we've ever attended and a great group of people to hang out with.
Picture: Swans in full flight off Porto Cervo, Sardinia.
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