The 28th Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup gets underway tomorrow and the talk on the dock is enthusiastic about the prospect of a week of high quality racing among the behemoths of the sailing world. 50 yachts, all over 60 feet, have entered and are primed for the sporting contest that lies ahead. With the organizing club, Yacht Club Costa Smeralda (YCCS), marking its 50th anniversary this year, there is an evidently positive and celebratory mood among the owners and crew despite strong winds having kept boats tied firmly to the dock over the past two days.
The Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup is one of yachting’s most revered competitions. Launched in 1980 by the YCCS, itself founded in 1967 by H.H. the Aga Khan among others, the regatta is held in conjunction with the International Maxi Association (IMA) and enjoys the committed support of Rolex, title sponsor since 1985. Principal Race Officer, Peter Craig, the man tasked with leading the on-the-water management, is looking forward to getting the 2017 event started: “It’s a robust looking fleet, with plenty of competition throughout the classes. The yachts have been divided using traditional Maxi class splits with a subdivision of the Mini Maxi Racer/Cruisers to ensure ‘like races like’ in this the largest of the participating classes.”
Riccardo Bonadeo, Commodore of the YCCS was keen to express the club’s depth of feeling for the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, one of the crown jewels within its extensive portfolio of yacht-racing events: “The YCCS has always had a special rapport with the world of Maxi yachts and I want to extend a warm welcome to the owners that come back to Porto Cervo every year and to those who are participating for the first time. This is a special year for us because we’re celebrating our 50th anniversary; we’re very happy to have 50 of these beautiful boats here in Porto Cervo, we really couldn’t have hoped for a better gift.”
The all-pervading buoyant atmosphere was reflected by Andrew McIrvine, Secretary-General of the IMA: “It’s an excellent entry for this year’s event and it’s rather special that we have the number of boats matching age of the YCCS. It’s been a difficult beginning with a Mistral blowing. Crews haven’t been able to go out and do their usual training, so it could make for an interesting first day tomorrow. All said, we have great expectations for this wonderful competition.”
The Mistral winds currently dominating this area of the Mediterranean are expected to subside overnight. Mike Broughton, the navigator on Claus-Peter Offen’s 100-foot Y3K, explained that most weather models had suggested the wind would die this afternoon, but that the one thing predictable when racing here is the unpredictability of the wind: “My feeling is that the high mountains of Sardinia and Corsica have most probably kept winds stronger for longer than expected.”
The seven principal classes are: Maxi 72, racing for their World Championship; Wally; Supermaxi; Maxi Racer; Maxi Racer/Cruiser; Mini Maxi Racer and Mini Maxi Racer/Cruiser, which is split into two groups.
The five-strong Supermaxi fleet looks a fascinating prospect with four past class winners in Nilaya, Viriella, Inoui and, 2016 debutante Win Win, along with the relatively unknown newcomer Ribelle adding spice to the mix. The Wally fleet has its customary strength in depth with four crews having won previously at the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, including defending champion Open Season, Y3K, Magic Carpet Cubed and J One, itself celebrating 20 years of competition in Porto Cervo. The Maxi 72s will undoubtedly provide fireworks as they pursue their World Championship. Bella Mente is looking to defend her title against Momo, Caol Ila R, Proteus and the impressively fast Cannonball, another yacht competing at the event for the first time.
At the Skipper’s Briefing, Craig advised that the long-term weather forecast looks favourable, although light on Monday and Tuesday. All classes would start with a coastal race through the incomparable setting of the Maddalena archipelago, which has provided the sublime background to Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup for close to thirty years.
Assuming the forecast holds, racing begins at 11.30 CEST tomorrow, 4 September, and continues through to Saturday, 9 September.
A NATURAL AND SUPPORTIVE PARTNER
Rolex has always sought to associate with activities that are motivated by passion, excellence, precision and team spirit. Naturally, Rolex gravitated toward the elite world of sailing, forming an alliance that dates back to the late 1950s. Today, Rolex is Title Sponsor of some 15 major international events, from leading offshore races, such as the Rolex Sydney Hobart and the biennial Rolex Fastnet Race, through to the highest-level grand-prix competition at the Rolex TP52 World Championship and spectacular gatherings at the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup and the Rolex Swan Cup. The Swiss watchmaker’s close relationships with the most prestigious yacht clubs around the world, including the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda (Italy), the New York Yacht Club (US) and the Royal Yacht Squadron (Cowes, UK), are the foundation of Rolex’s enduring relationship with pinnacle of yachting.
Rolex, the Swiss watch brand headquartered in Geneva, enjoys an unrivalled reputation for quality and expertise the world over. Its Oyster and Cellini watches, all certified as Superlative Chronometers for their precision, performance and reliability, are symbols of excellence, elegance and prestige. Founded by Hans Wilsdorf in 1905, the brand pioneered the development of the wristwatch and is at the origin of numerous major watchmaking innovations, such as the Oyster, the first waterproof wristwatch, launched in 1926, and the Perpetual rotor self-winding mechanism invented in 1931. Rolex has registered over 400 patents in the course of its history. A truly integrated and independent manufacturing company, Rolex designs, develops and produces in-house all the essential components of its watches, from the casting of the gold alloys to the machining, crafting, assembly and finishing of the movement, case, dial and bracelet. Rolex is also actively involved in supporting the arts, sports, exploration, the spirit of enterprise, and the environment through a broad palette of sponsoring activities, as well as philanthropic programmes.
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