IMS 600 Boats Top 2003 Rolex IMS Offshore World Championship

Italian Teams Take Top Three Positions Overall

Tony Bessinger

It's official; the best IMS racers in the world are in the Mediterranean, they're Italian, and they sail production boats. But these production boats don't resemble anything found on the American side of the Atlantic. Covered with enough sponsor decals and hot graphics to make NASCAR drivers feel inadequate, and maximized for speed, these boats look as if they could have been constructed by any of the top custom boat builders' yards. Last week 64 of these boats, sailed by some of the best sailors in the world, rendezvoused off the Southern Italian island of Capri and sailed six races that ranged from a windy petite distance race to a mind-numbingly light windward leeward day race. In short, conditions that assured that the winner wasn't optimized for any single type of racing, and that only the best all around boats would be on the podium at the end of the event.

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| Tony Bessinger|

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| X-Spot, a Grand Soleil 56R will be a player on the Mediterranean IMS circuit* * *|

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| In Class A, all eyes were on two new boats at the beginning of the week. One was the brand-new X-Sport, a Grand Soleil 56R, a race version of a Philippe Briand design for the Italian boatbuilder Contiare del Pardo. Using designs from Farr, Peterson, Judel/Vrolik, and Groupe Finot, as well as Briand, Contiare del Pardo is known for customizing its production designs to suit customer’s needs. X-Sport is a modern typeform IMS boat with high, slab sides, a narrow beam, and a flush deck. The other boat, Orlanda, a 53-foot Farr design recently delivered was similar in shape, and would spend the week pushing the larger boat around the racecourse. Also in Class A was the 75-foot English-flagged Enigma of London, which used to be the turbosled Chance. With a new rig, a headstay that’s been moved forward, and a heavier keel bulb, it’s been optimized for speed, but would have a hard time holding off the smaller boats in its class, including the Sydney 62 Bumblebee V, an Australian boat designed by Murray and Dovell. Next in size were two IMS 50s from the last Admiral’s Cup in 1999, the Italian Farr boat Brava Q8, and the Nelson-designed Idler, the lone American entry. These two boats had a good time racing each other during the week, but were no threat to the larger or smaller boats in the class. IMS is all about newer designs in Europe, and these two old warhorses, all of five years old, just weren’t on the pace.

The toughest boats in Class A turned out to be the Spanish Rodman 42, Telefonica Movistar, a modified production boat designed by Judel Vroljik and built in Spain, and World Cargo, a Vismara 42. These two 42-footers, which fit in the IMS 600 band, sailed a steady week and ended up 1, 2 in class, beating X-Sport and Orlanda, which were three, four, consecutively. Telefonica Movistar owned by Georgio Goldoni, will be the Spanish IMS 600 entry in the Admiral’s Cup this year.

But Class B was where the overall winner and second overall boat came from. Italtel, a Grand Soleil 42R, sailed a great event, despite a serious grounding during the distance race and a broken boom on the next-to-last day of racing, and won the 2003 Rolex IMS Offshore Worlds overall. Despite losing most of the bottom half of its keel two thirds of the way through the 195-mile overnight, Italtel scored an impressive 1,1,1,2,1,1,1 for the series in class, and a 1,3,1,2,5,3,1 in Fleet. The Rodman 42 Wind, also a Class B boat was second overall, and World Cargo was a distant third, 23.25 points behind Wind.

Class C was dominated a by a well-sailed, modified Beneteau 36.7 Di Mare, followed by the Vismara 34 Paul & Shark, and the X-362 Sport Don Alvaro, in second and third, respectively.

In summary, five boats 42 feet and under, all in the IMS 600 rating band, were the top boats in the event. X-Sport, the Grand Soleil 56R showed good pace and finished 6th overall, which augers well for this brand new boat that’s still getting sorted. Once this crew gets some time on the water, X-Sport should be turning more heads on the IMS European circuit. The Sydney 62 Bumblebee V ranked 7th and would have done better if they’d had a better result in the distance race, where they finished a disappointing 14 for the first part, and 21 overall for the double-scored race. It was a long haul for John Kahlbetzer and his Aussie crew to get to Capri, but worth it.

One of the nice bits about racing in the Rolex IMS Offshore Worlds this year was the consolation prize that the non-winners enjoyed, a week on Capri. Even if you didn’t step up to the podium and get a Rolex, you still got to spend a week in one of the nicest venues that sailing has to offer. Spectacular views, wonderful food, great racing, and a well-run event made the 2003 event a winner.

For full results, see http://www.yccs.it/index.asp