1995: Italy Wins Champagne Mumm Admiral's Cup

First Ever Victory For Italian Team As US Bid Falters

Excerpt from "Champagne Mumm Admirals Cup" by Timothy Jeffery

Italy won the Champagne Mumm Admiral's Cup today with a strong come-from-behind performance in the 605-mile Fastnet Race. With their first victory in the 40-year history of the Cup, the Italians overtook and passed an American team that had led throughout the nine-race series.

Team America dominated the ocean racing series going into the Fastnet Race but Italy fought back with a superb performance. Its team of Ranaldo Del Bono's Capricorno in the Big Boat Class, Pasquale Landolfi's Brava Q8 in the ILC40s and Paolo Gaia's Mumm a'Mia in the Mumm 36 Class finished 3-1-1 to build a 25.292-point winning margin.

American Rod Davis sailed for Italy in the last five Champagne Mumm Admiral's Cup series, coached two previous teams and raced this time as tactician aboard Capricorno. "It's ironic," he said. "In '91 and '93 Italy really deserved to win. In '91 we got pipped at the post by the French in a really weird set of circumstances. In '93 we had Mandrake's big collision and we came damn close to winning the whole series until Larouge dropped their rig. I personally believe that this time the Americans have been sailing better than anyone else in all the races that preceded the Fastnet and probably deserved to win the Cup."

As the boats finished in Plymouth after one of the slowest light air races in recent history Team America led by a mere 1.833 points. The final outcome of the event rested with the Mumm 36 Class. If Mumm a' Mia finished ahead of Jim Brady's American boat No Problem the Cup belonged to the Italians. If Brady could pass the Italian boat that he had trailed virtually throughout the Fastnet Race, the Cup would go to America for the first time in 26 years. Mumm a' Mia took the victory gun while the American boat finished seventh.

Unofficial scores on the low point system had Italy first with 112.958, Team America second with 138.25 and the defenders, Germany, third with 147.000.

Italy's sailors dominated their American rivals in all three classes to eliminate the 21.5-point lead the Americans enjoyed going into the Fastnet Race. In the Big Boat Class Capricorno led on the way out to the Fastnet Rock only to drop off the pace dramatically in the light airs and calms at the Rock. "When the breeze came in we knew we're in trouble and we scrambled as hard as we could," said Davis.

The USA's Blue Yankee led early in the Fastnet Race only to fall prey to plastic wrapped around her rudder. Later she became becalmed for over an hour as she struggled against a foul tide to get clear of The LIzard "It was horrible," said Bob Towse, owner of Blue Yankee and co-team captain. "This was the longest, slowest distance race I've ever been in. We just couldn't get a break. We were sailing with 40-footers."

The best performance from the American team came from a boat that limped into Plymouth with water in its bilges, a damaged keel, and a crumpled bow. "We tried our hardest to wreck the boat," said Ken Read, helmsman aboard the ILC40 Pigs in Space, after she finished second, only seven minutes behind Italy's Brava Q8. "We hit a ledge going 9.5 knots with the chute up and stopped the boat dead in the water. It as just off the Lizard. We wrecked the bow. It is all delaminated and crushed. Everyone went flying and we thought we were done. Brava was right in front of us. I don't know how they missed the rock but they did and we didn't! The keel is cracked all the way around. We had a team vote and decided to continue on and untied the liferafts and made them ready to go. We had a mangled boat that we had to sail for the next three-quarters of the race. Not only did our crew figure out a way to finish the race in a boat that probably shouldn't have made it, but they also managed to come in second."

The result was in doubt until the final moments of the nine-race series, emphasising both the crucial importance of the Fastnet itself in this unofficial world championship of offshore sailing and the importance of the performance of each boat in the three-boat team in what is a no-discard, no-passengers, no excuses competition. With two of the three classes finished, the USA still held a slender 1.833 points lead over Italy. Quite literally, the result in the Mumm 36 class would decide the series. When Paolo Gaia's Mumm a Mia crossed the line first, America had to concede defeat.

There were some strong individual performances. Robin Aisher's Group 4 Seashorse, the former Rubin borrowed by one past flag officer of the Royal Ocean Racing Club from another, was actually first boat on the water at the Lizard on the way out, despite being lowest rated and smallest yacht of her class. She held her corrected time lead from there to the finish. In the Mumm 36s, South Africa - here for the first time since 1975 and already with some encouraging performances to her credit, added another with a good second place by Sansui Sprinter. But in the end it is not individual performance but solid team grouping which wins the Champagne Mumm Admiral's Cup. And this year was Italy's year. Often the bridesmaid, Italy - loyal supporter of the event since their first appearance in 1967, were this year the bride.

1. Admiral's Cup
1st Team
Big Boat: Capricorno, Rinaldo Del Bobn
ILC40:Brava Q8, Pasquale Landolfi
Mumm 36: Mumm A'Mia, Paolo Gaia
2. Aisher Cup
2nd Team
United States of America
Big Boat:Blue Yankee, Robert Towse
ILC 40: Pigs in Space, David H. Clarke
Mumm 36: No Problem, Jim Brady
3. Harston Cup
3rd Team
Big Boat: Pinta, Willi Illbruck
ILC 40: Anemos, Jochen Schumann
Mumm 36: Thomas-I-Punkt, Thomas Friese
4. Champagne Mumm
Top Yacht
Brava Q8
Pasquale Landolfi, Italy
5. Nyria Trophy
1st Team: Combined Inshore races
United States of America
Big Boat: Blue Yankee, Robert Towse
ILC 40: Pigs in Space, David H. Clarke
Mumm 36: No Problem, Jim Brady
6. RORC Trophy
1st Team: Channel Race
Big Boat: Mean Machine, Peter de Ridder
ILC 40: Fram XII, HM King Harold
Mumm 36: Skandia, G Krantz
7. RYS Trophy
1st Team: RYS Trophy Race
United States of America
Big Boat: Blue Yankee, Robert Towse
ILC 40: Pigs in Space, David H. Clarke
Mumm 36: No Problem, Jim Brady
8. Corum Trophy
1st Team: Corum Trophy Race
United States of America
Big Boat: Blue Yankee, Robert Towse
ILC 40: Pigs in Space, David H. Clarke
Mumm 36: No Problem, Jim Brady

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