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Bella Palma

Hap Fauth’s Bella Mente wins the Montblanc Maxi 72 class at the 35 Copa del Rey MAPFRE.

August 6, 2016
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Bella Mente Maxi 72
Bella Mente wins the Maxi72 Class at Regatta Copa del Rey. Courtesy 35 Copa del Rey MAPFRE

Hap Fauth’s Bella Mente, the 2015 Maxi 72 World Champions and overall leaders of the Maxi72 circuit have won the 35 Copa del Rey MAPFRE in the Montblanc Maxi 72 class. Bella Mente has one of the strongest crews in the fleet, lead by crew boss Mike ‘Moose’ Sanderson and tactician Terry Hutchinson, supported by strategist Adrian Stead and navigator Ian Moore. Regatta Organizers sat down with Fauth for some Q & A:

“It is a wonderful event, one of the best regattas we attend all year,” says Fauth. “We have had wonderful conditions except of course for yesterday when racing was blown off the water. I think that was a wise thing to do in terms of protecting people and equipment. We are looking forwards to today. The courses have been good we had a 3.2 nautical miles windward leg on Thursday and that was great, it is seems like not often there are times when we can stretch our legs on windward-leeward races.”

The Maxi72 delivers every facet of what Fauth enjoys about grand prix racing, team spirit and cohesion, technical development, pressing forwards with technical advances plus the simple pleasures of going fast inshore and offshore, but the watchword to it all is Improvement.

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“I am on old dog. You can’t teach me new tricks. This is what I do. I am still working full time, running a bunch of businesses. I do this, I fly fish, I play a little golf and all that keeps me off the streets! I like the competition, I love the sea and I love the continued development. Every time we are on the water our objective is to get better; to get better in our individual positions, to get better as a team, to get better in terms of utilising technology, in measurement of results. It is a dynamic process of improvement.”

And his own improvement, feeling like he is still make advances is fundamental, he grins widely: “Absolutely! I am the weakest link in the team. I am the only amateur on the boat and you can definitely tell.”

Advances this season have been technical, replacing the keel has improved performance but so too they work harder at the kinetics of sailing what is – he asserts – a big dinghy: “We put a new fin and bulb on, we have several new sails with new shapes. We are now getting down now to the small refinements, windage, the kinetics of sailing the boat as a team. That is all very important. This is a big dinghy. Take a Laser or 470 and this is just elongated.”

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Bella Mente is good offshore and inshore and Fauth and his crew relish racing both disciplines: “We gave Rolf Vrolijk a tough test when we designed this boat. We said ‘We want an Uber Boat’ that loves offshore and goes well round the buoys. He did a great job. We love the Caribbean 600 and the Bermuda Race and races like that. We have done the Transpac. We love to rock n roll offshore. It is a great break from racing around the buoys, as are coastal races.”

Bella Mente Maxi 72 Crew
The Bella Mente Racing Team dockside before the final day of racing at the 35th Copa del Rey MAPFRE. Tomas Moya/35 Copa de Rey MAPFRE

And the subtle challenges of the Bay of Palma’s sea breeze add to the enjoyment of the Copa del Rey: “I love the fact that albeit there is a consistency in terms of the drainage breeze in the morning and sea breeze in the afternoon, conditions always seem to challenging out there. The breeze can be punky, it is not ever the same. That is the reason to come out and work on it. This is a great tune up regatta for the Worlds in Sardinia. The conditions here are always challenging, especially for those of us who grew up on the East Coast of the USA, where the sea breeze comes in at 10-15kts and five degree shifts are big. That is not the case here. When the sea breeze comes in here 15 degrees or 20 degrees and it has holes in it.”

A Happy Crew is a Fast Crew is a Fauth Crew? “Basically this is a family. I started sailing at seven and competing not long after. I moved out to the Mid West built my businesses and raised a family and then got back into it. I treat this like I treat my businesses and my family. This is a non-star program. We win as a team and lose as a team. Everybody is accountable for their part of the team. We live together. I don’t give the guys a per diem and tell them to go out and have a ball. We all eat together. I bring in a chef for everybody and it is a very good program that way. Living together we like each other, and we have to. Bad apples stick out and they don’t last. We have people waiting to sail with us because I treat the boys very well.”

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The cornerstones of the team are Sanderson and Hutchinson. “They are fantastic. They both put themselves in my shoes as an owner. They are both phenomenal at what they do. Their individual talents lend themselves to a winning program. They work together very well. One respects the other equally. Terry is a great tactician and the boys respect him. We try to operate a quiet boat. We try to, that is the objective. But if there is a voice it is Terry’s, his is the voice and it is not him and Moose competing. Ado (Adrian Stead) is equally important.”

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