The International Maxi Association’s annual Members’ Dinner took place last night in the exquisite surroundings of the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda prior to today’s layday at the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup. It was also the occasion for the winners of the IMA’s maxi championships to receive their prizes.
After two false starts due to the pandemic, this spring the IMA was finally able to hold the long-awaited first edition of its Caribbean Maxi Challenge. This comprised four events from which competitors had to complete at least two: the RORC Caribbean 600, Heineken St Maarten Regatta, Les Voiles de Saint-Barth and Antigua Sailing Week.
More than 30 maxis (of 60+ft) took part including several of the most high profile international teams, such as George David’s Rambler 88, the Farr 100 Leopard, Wendy Schmidt’s Botin Partners 85 Deep Blue and the former Maxi 72s Vesper and Bella Mente campaigned by Americans Jim Swartz and Hap Fauth respectively. However a third place from 18 maxi yacht starters in the RORC Caribbean 600, followed by another third place from 10 maxis in the Heineken St Maarten regatta, was enough to secure the VO70 I Love Poland the Caribbean Maxi Challenge winner’s trophy, by two points from Leopard.
Formerly Puma Ocean Racing’s Mar Mostro, which finished third in the 2011-12 Volvo Ocean Race, I Love Poland is today owned by the Polish National Foundation. This trains up young Polish sailors by giving them the opportunity to participate in the world’s most important and prestigious regattas in the world aboard this powerful racing yacht. For this year’s Caribbean program, the majority of her crew was 17 to 31 years old. Since 2018 almost 1000 young Poles have applied to be part of the Polish VO70’s crew. During this time she has scored line honours in the 2020 Rolex Middle Sea Race and finished fifth in the 2021 Rolex Fastnet Race’s maxi class, when for a period, 24 hours into the race, she led the entire IRC fleet.
The silver IMA Caribbean Maxi Challenge trophy was awarded for the first time to I Love Poland’s skipper Grzegorz Baranowski by IMA President Benoît de Froidmont.
The IMA Mediterranean Maxi Offshore Challenge (MMOC) begins each year with the Rolex Middle Sea Race and concludes with August’s Palermo-Montecarlo so its trophy can be presented at the IMA Member’s Dinner every September. The 2021-22 edition of the Challenge comprised seven events, also including La Larga (PalmaVela’s offshore race), the Regata dei Tre Golfi (part of this year’s IMA Maxi European Championship), the 151 Miglia-Trofeo Cetilar, the offshore race within Rolex Giraglia and the Aegean 600. From the seven, competitors must compete in at least three.
A 12th place in the Regata dei Tre Golfi, a fifth in the 151 Miglia-Trofeo Cetilar followed by a 12th in Rolex Giraglia was enough to add the name of Frenchman Jean-Pierre Barjon’s Spirit of Lorina to the victor’s silver trophy below George David’s Rambler 88 (2015-16), Carlo A. Puri Negri’s Atalanta II (2017-18) and Miguel Galuccio’s Vera (2018-19).
For many years Barjon had campaigned his Swan 601 named Lorina 1895, after the artisan lemonade company he acquired in 1997, turned around and sold in 2018. In 2019, Lorina 1895 was pipped to the post in the last leg of the last race in the IMA Mediterranean Maxi Inshore Challenge by IMA President Benoît de Froidmont’s Wally 60 Wallyño. However this season Barjon replaced his Swan with a substantially faster Botin Partners 65, aimed at a more offshore-orientated program. Spirit of Lorina, formerly High Spirits, is sistership to Caro and, prior to Barjon acquiring her, had previously competed in just one race – the 2016 Rolex Giraglia. Her first outing with her new owner, the Regata dei Tre Golfi, took place within two weeks of his having taken delivery of her.
The purpose of the IMA’s challenges is to encourage maxi yacht participation. While a few other maxi teams scored high points in the 2021-22 IMA MMOC they had not competed in the required minimum of three events.