While Copa del Rey titles went down to the wire in the Maxi 72 and Swan 45 classes there was no such drama in ORC 2 where Pedro Campos extended his extraordinary record of class victories to nine. In IRC-1 it was Azzurra who won the Copa del Rey. Behind her it was a tense battle for second which was in the end decided by half a point in the favour of Alegre and Paprec third.
The duel for the Maxi 72 crown was finally won by Hap Fauth’s “Bella Mente” crew but their closest rivals “Proteus” – George Sakellaris’ team which had won the Copa del Rey twice before – had the title in their grasp during the final race of the six day regatta. But Terry Hutchinson and Adrian Stead, the “Bella Mente” afterguard read a new change in the breeze earlier and better and were able to squeeze through to win the last race, and the regatta for their first time.
“It was a very rewarding day. We sailed hard and were mentally tough. We put the pedal down when we had to. This is one of the best regattas in terms of how it is run. The boats are absolutely even in our fleet. There is no question we wanted to win this regatta and now it is a great way to go to the Maxi worlds. This victory is something we can build on.” Owner-helmsman Hap Fauth smiled.
When the discard was applied the top two Maxi 72s “Bella Mente” and “Proteus” were on even points. “We had to put some points on them. Today was about us and them.” Recalled Terry Hutchison, Bella Mente’s tactician, “We got a second to their fourth in the first race. And so their (Proteus) only winning combination was if they won the last race.”
After a match racing skirmish pre-start Proteus escaped to lead at the top mark, first time up. With “Bella Mente” third the regatta title was heading Sakellaris’ way. But as they closed up on the run Hutchinson and Stead engineered a dummy gybe which allowed them to break to the right corner to the beneficial wind shift. They took the lead at the gate and though they were pushed to the finish line, the 35 Copa del Rey MAPFRE title goes to the current Maxi72 World Champions, Bella Mente: “ It was all on to the finish. We needed our absolute best and we got it. That is the best race I sailed these last two weeks. The measure of this team is the way we bounced back from the mistake the other day.”
The King of Spain, H.M. the King Felipe VI, sailed the final day on “Aifos” and presented the trophies later that evening at a well attended ceremony.