When time is precious, you want to savour every moment. While there are no guarantees in life, there are some things, some places, that almost always live up to their promise.
It’s why sailors come back year after year to revel in the beautiful sailing conditions of the Costa Smeralda. In such a weather-dependent sport as yacht racing, you want to know that you have at least a reasonable chance of getting some good days on the water. Judging by the first four days of the 2015 edition of the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, this year’s regatta will go down as a classic.
The late summer sun has been shining, the Mediterranean wind has been blowing, and the idyllic La Maddalena archipelago is always beautiful. The sailors have been stepping ashore with smiles almost as broad as their powerful, elegant racing yachts.
It’s small wonder that Maxi yacht owners want to make the most of their precious time on these sparkling Sardinian seas. More than 30 years ago, when Rolex partnered with the exclusive Yacht Club Costa Smeralda, the shared vision was to bring together the greatest gathering of high performance yachts in one of the world’s most glamorous and desirable locations. The vision became reality, and the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup has become established as one of the most spectacular and exciting regattas of the international racing calendar, the World Championship for some of the largest and most advanced racing yachts ever conceived. An intoxicating mix of elegance, innovation and high performance.
As the level of competition and the drive for excellence has increased, so has the calibre of sailor attracted to the event. For example this year, three-time Olympic champion Jochen Schümann is making the tactical decisions on board German businessman Thomas Bscher’s 107-ft Wally yacht, Open Season, and it’s a partnership that has been working well this week with the German crew holding a handsome advantage on the scoreboard. Legendary New Zealander and four-time America’s Cup winner Brad Butterworth is working in a similar role for Sir Peter Ogden on board the Maxi 72 Spirit of Jethou. The crew lists at the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda read like a Hall of Fame roll call.
One of the obvious attractions of hiring an Olympic champion or America’s Cup winner is the opportunity to stand on the field of play, shoulder to shoulder with the very best. How many sports offer such an opportunity? Quite apart from that, however, it just makes good sense to hire the most talented professionals. Some prefer a single-nationality approach whilst other crews are as exotic and international as a top-flight football team. Thierry Peponnet, another Olympic champion in Porto Cervo, is the tactician for an all-French crew on board the 80ft Wally Tango. “All being from the same country makes communication easier,” he concedes, “but it’s also interesting to bring in new ideas and innovations from a variety of nationalities.”
For Peponnet, the prime reason for flying in top-level international crews from around the world is to be able to push the boat as hard as possible, without jeopardising the safety of the boat, owner, guests and crew. This is a precision game, requiring the utmost concentration for hours at a time. “Good professionals should anticipate situations before they happen,” says the double Olympic medallist, mindful of the power of a 50-ton yacht travelling at 10 knots or more. “We never try to put the boat in difficult situations although inevitably there are times when you are forced to do so. We are fortunate that this is a gentleman's sport. There is a good spirit between the owners.”
Peponnet compares the approach to the first turning mark to the first corner in a Formula One motor race - where the unexpected can arise with very little warning. “Anticipation is key,” he notes, as is the understanding of risk versus reward in rapidly changing situations. “The owners, they are all businessmen, and they understand that in some way we are running a business on the boat,” says Peponnet. “Because the owners are not full-time sailing professionals, they like to gather the best consultants and experts around them, to help them make the best decision in the heat of the moment.”
Watch some great action from the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup on the Official Rolex Youtube channel.
Yacht Club Costa Smeralda
International Maxi Association
PR CONTACT FOR THE YACHT CLUB COSTA SMERALDA
+39 340 1674755
PR CONTACT FOR INTERNATIONAL MAXI ASSOCIATION
T: +44 7710 109386
Maria Luisa Farris
T: +39 345 8257605