Bella Mente Racing’s positive feelings about racing in the New York Yacht Club’s 168th Annual Regatta (June 10 -12) off Newport, R.I. translated into the team’s victory over five other ORC A class competitors in both Friday’s Around the Island Race and the weekend’s separately scored series of six around-the-buoys races.
“The Around the Island Race was a lot of fun, as tricky, changeable conditions really meant that no lead was safe,” said Mike “Moose” Sanderson, who in the absence of owner/driver Hap Fauth served as Bella Mente’s skipper over the event’s three racing days, “but we started well, managed to pass Proteus (a Maxi 72 as is Bella Mente) and then it was a matter of keeping it simple and trying to (avoid) the ‘land mines’ ahead!” The land mines were the slower boats in some of the 13 other classes that started ahead of ORC A.
According to Bella Mente Racing’s tactician Terry Hutchinson, both the Around the Island Race and the Annual Regatta series were very hard-fought, but for different reasons. “For the Around the island Race, Belle Mente had to contend with not only our competition (which included long-time rival Vesper, an IRC 72) but also two transition zones (major wind shifts) and lots of bogeys (other boats) on the racecourse to navigate through,” he said. “Saturday/Sunday racing was equally as good. Bella Mente, Proteus, and Vesper each won races, and while Bella Mentecame out on top it was an incredibly tight event.”
Indeed, as stellar as Bella Mente’s performance was in the weekend’s primarily moderate breezes, there was no real turning point when the team felt assured of overall victory. “The last race was short, so when we led Vesper around the first lap after a lot of exciting boat-on-boat action, it was looking more likely we’d win,” said Sanderson, “however, it’s never over in this class, which makes it exciting all the way to the end.”
Sanderson and Hutchinson both noted that training sessions leading up to this event were critical in the continual development of Bella Mente and its equipment. As part of that, Coach James Lyne analyzed the boat’s sail set-up, maneuvers and weight placement. During training and racing, he photographs and records the performance of the boat from an aero and hydro standpoint. “We were really happy with the new rig and sails,” said Sanderson, “but somehow we need to find some rating optimization without slowing the boat down, so we have some fun challenges ahead!”
Sanderson added that for the Annual Regatta, Bella Mente Racing knew that Bella Mente would be most closely matched with Vesper and Proteus. In the end, the three finished, respectively, in first, second and third with only one point separating each position. “The fact that we all ended up so close on points was no surprise,” he said, “but Vesperbeat up on us pretty hard at the previous regatta in the Caribbean, so it was nice to be at least in the hunt. We are under no illusion, though; we still have a lot of work to do if we want to be in the mix for the Maxi World Championships later this year.”
Meanwhile, next up for Bella Mente is the July 13-16 New York Yacht Club Race Week at Newport.
10 June 2022
Bella Mente Racing Readies for NYYC Annual Regatta
It has been a while since Bella Mente Racing has felt this good about competing. The Covid-19 pandemic has caused setbacks over the past two years that, at worst, put the brakes on sailing worldwide, or, at best, threw a monkey wrench into the team’s best-laid of logistical plans. Now, Bella Mente’s crew has put behind it several days of training on Narragansett Bay and is ready to rumble on the race course at the 168th NYYC’s Annual Regatta, which starts Friday, June 10 and runs through Sunday, June 12.
Bella Mente Racing has consisted of the same steady team for years. For this regatta, Mike (“Moose”) Sanderson, normally the relief helmsman for owner/driver Hap Fauth, will step in to drive. Terry Hutchinson will serve as tactician, while Ian Moore will serve as navigator. The team will be without long-time strategist Adrian Stead, due to a personal conflict, but Sanderson says he will not be replaced. “We know Newport waters well, so we’re just going with more grinding power,” he said.
Sanderson explained that the team’s last regatta Bella Mente, a Botin 72, was the Les Voiles de St. Barths in April. “We struggled results-wise and were beaten up by Vesper (a Judel Vrolijk 72),” he said. “We were on the back foot; due to Covid shipping issues, Bella Mente was late, which is very un-Bella-Mente-like. Before that, we had sea trials, but it was quite a long break from regattas and we hadn’t really sailed in anger since the Maxi Worlds in September last year.”
Since Les Voiles, Bella Mente has been fitted with a new mast; the prior one had broken above the forestay at Les Voiles in 2019 and after repair was used up until now. “It was a good repair, of course, but we’re excited about this new mast,” said Sanderson. “It’s a little taller, affecting our rating somewhat, but performance-wise we have high hopes for it along with our new big jibs and mainsail (that were built to fit).”
Bella Mente will enjoy a rematch against Vesper on Friday in the Regatta’s race around Conanicut Island starting at 1100. Two days of buoy or navigator-course racing on Rhode Island Sound and in Narragansett Bay will follow on June 11 and 12. Others in Bella Mente’s class are Proteus, another Maxi 72; Arctos, a 68-footer; and Denali and Kodiak, both 66-footers.
Afterward, Bella Mente will remain in Newport in preparation for the July 13-16 New York Yacht Club Race Week at Newport.
More About NYYC Annual Regatta
The New York Yacht Club’s Annual Regatta was first sailed on the Hudson River on July 16 and 18, 1846. A similar competition the previous year was called a Trial of Speed. With a few exceptions for world wars and other global crises, the event has been held every year since. For most of its existence, the Annual Regatta was raced on waters close to New York City. Since 1988, however, the event has been sailed out of the Harbour Court clubhouse in Newport, R.I., and has settled into the current three-day format.