The fleet was held at the dock for four hours waiting for the breeze and, more importantly, the seas to abate.
The strong northeasterly breeze that blew relentlessly through the night gave Principal Race Officer Peter Craig and his race committee cause for concern. The resulting sea state, while probably not boat breaking, was potentially gear-busting, and most ashore seemed content with the decision to postpone the original 1130 start time.
Then, at 14:00 (local time) with the AP flag down, boats headed out to a northeasterly breeze of 15-18 knots and a two meter sea. Shortly after the race committee's announcement, the crew of the Swan 42 Long Echo (GBR), finished their cappuccinos and headed for the boat. Tactician Roger Yeomans, ready to get racing said, "We're absolutely delighted to sail here, it's actually been on my bucket list for a long time, this regatta."
About the postponement, Yeomans said, "We didn't really have time to get too frustrated because we had too much scrutineering to tick off, and once we ticked that off it was time for coffees…and what a great place to sit and cogitate!
At 15:30 the warning signal for the Maxis was sounded and the 22-boat fleet, from 60-footers to the 112-footers of Highland Breeze (NED) and Mystery, were sent on a 25-nautical mile course that had a short upwind beat, than a reach into the Golfo delle Saline to round Secco di Tre Monti, a beat up and around Ile di Monaci, a downwind run to Ile di Mortoriotto, up to a buoy in Golfo Pevero, and to the finish off the entrance off Porto Cervo. Leading the fleet around the course was the Swan 80 Berenice (ITA), the newest Swan here. By the turn at Mortoriotto however, the Swan 90s DSK Pioneer Investment (ITA), and White Lie (ITA) got by Berenice (ITA) to cross the finish line ahead. But it would be Johan Killinger's year-old Swan 60 Emma, that corrected out ahead of both the Swan 90s to win the Maxi Class A's first race of the regatta.
Roberto Saletti, tactician on White Lie said, "The race was very nice, the race committee waited for the right time to get the start after a very windy morning became a nice wind to race. We were very close with DSK, a very fast boat, and the new 80, Berenice. We were very happy as our boat was very fast today. Our crew is a good group, we are friends and we enjoy racing together very much."
Many competitors at the Rolex Swan Cup are here racing on their own boats, while others charter for the biennial regatta. While American Wendy Schmidt has her own Swan 80 in the U.S., she chartered the Swan 80, Astro del Este for the regatta. Schmidt said, "We're here on Astro to see what it's about here in Sardinia, thinking about bringing Selene in a couple of years for the next Rolex Swan Cup. This is great competitive racing, and it seems like a wonderful boat and we have a wonderful crew. We've brought a lot of people from Nantucket and Newport who sail with us. We have a good core team and we've added the crew of Astro, and some other folks who are here in Sardinia.
"We're thrilled to be here, nobody has oversold Sardinia, we thought we'd died and gone to sailing heaven when we came out of our jet lag we said 'are we really here?' Yesterday at practice - we sailed one of the courses around the lighthouse - we sailed right up to the rocks. We have a wonderful navigator, he's got his laptop and he's telling us 'you have 10 seconds to tack" and he really means it!"
The 24-boat Grand Prix class went off on a 20-nautical mile course that followed closely the Maxis though without the leg down to Motoriotto, while the 22-boat Classic fleet went on a similar course, though slimmed down to 17 nautical miles to get them home before dark.
In the Grand-Prix Class B, it was Amanda Hartley's Swan 56 Clem (ESP) that finished first ahead of P.H.J. Bakker's Silveren Swaen. On the dock before heading out to race Hartley said, "To tell you the truth, we have a lot of hopes of doing well in this race. It is a regatta we have been taking very seriously since we put investment and very good people onboard." Hartley didn't leave any stones unturned enlisting Jordi Calafat (America's Cup, Volvo Ocean Race sailor and Olympic gold medalist) on helm, Nacho Postigo calling tactics, and Olympian Javier Plaza as main trimmer.
In Classic Class C, it was battle of the Swan 65s with Peter Simon's Swan 65 Monsoon Jaguar (GBR) first over the line, as well as on handicap ahead of Giuseppe Puttinni's Shirlaf.
Swan 45 World Championship
Both the Swan 45 and Swan 42 one-design classes sailed two windward-leeward races, twice around with 1.7nm legs. The Swan 45s are sailing their World Championship and the 2009 World Champion Nico Poons on Charisma (NED) is here to defend his title. Save for Volvo Ocean Race sailor Ray Davies who is onboard as tactician, the crew is made up of amateurs who have been with the boat for the last 2-1/2 years as they worked their way through the back ranks to World Champions last year. Charisma seems to be ready, as Poons said, "It is wonderful to be here, the weather is good, the sailing conditions are good, the atmosphere is good and we are well prepared. I have a good feeling about what is coming this week."
But today it was Andrea Masi's Swan 45 Ulika (ITA), which posted a 2-1 to lead the regatta on this first day. Masi said, "We really have a very good speed, we found the right tuning which was not easy at all today with the choppy sea and high waves coming from all sides, even more difficult to sail than with light winds - so really it was great fun to find the right path. It's the first time this crew works together, we were not really able to practice these days, so it really went well today."
In the Swan 42 class it was Enrico Scerni's Kora 4 (ITA) that led the day with a score of 1-1. Tactician Diogo Cayolla said, "We played the shifts and went were the wind was, and we had speed. So everything together, it seems easy. It was a very good day for us. Tomorrow will be different day as the wind will be lighter. We still have to work on that and make a prefect day like today. Other teams are really strong, and even though there are fewer boats, the level has gone up, so it will not be easy."
Racing continues on Tuesday through until Sunday (Saturday for the Swan 45s); all classes will sail an Islands Distance Race on Thursday. Friday is a layday for all classes except the Swan 45s.
Following racing their will be post-race refreshments on the Piazza Azzurra, as well as glamorous social events throughout the week, including the Owners' Dinner hosted by Rolex and the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda on Friday and Rolex Crew Party on Saturday.