Supermaxi Luxury Yacht & Superyacht News

Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup 2014: Day 3

September 04, 2014

Introduced in 1980, the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup represents a meeting of elegance, power, speed, as well as prowess. The event annually hosts large, powerful Maxi yachts, engaged in direct competition in a beautiful and challenging environment. Organized by Yacht Club Costa Smeralda and the International Maxi Association, the popular regatta has been the jewel of Rolex’s international yachting portfolio since 1985, and is celebrating its 25th edition this year.

Charter yacht SHAMROCK V sailing the emerald waters of Sardinia - Photo by Rolex Carlo Borlenghi

Charter yacht SHAMROCK V sailing the emerald waters of the Sardinia yacht charter location - Photo by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi

A rendezvous for those at the forefront of development within the yachting industry, the yachts competing are benchmarks: true guides to current trends. For the international fleet of 35 Maxi yachts gathered in Porto Cervo for the 2014 regatta the competition is at its midway point. Those with the ambition to win and the determination to follow through are coming to the fore.

Mini Maxi Racing

Featuring all-out race boats, all close to 72 feet in length, the fifth running of the Mini Maxi Rolex World Championship is one of the standout features of this year’s Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup. “The 72-footers are simply the top boats that exist in monohull racing,” says Vasco Vascotto, tactician on sailing yacht Robertissima III. “The boats are powerful, [and] great to sail.” explains Niklas Zennström, Ràn 5’s owner/helm. Bella Mente yacht’s Mike Sanderson, ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year in 2006, assesses the level of competition: “There are some very successful businessmen and multiple world champion sailors racing against each other. Everyone is used to winning.” Crewmate, Terry Hutchinson, offers his opinion: “It’s the pinnacle of our sport, you fight for every single inch.

Roberto Tomasini's ROBERTISSIMA III (GBR) leading the Mini Maxi fleet around the windward mark - Photo by Rolex Carlo Borlenghi

Roberto Tomasini's ROBERTISSIMA III (GBR) leading the Mini Maxi fleet around the windward mark - Photo by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi

There is widespread belief that this is the toughest Mini Maxi Rolex World Championship to date. The third day of racing, was proof positive that everyone is capable of winning with the two outsiders sailing yacht Caol Ila R and Shockwave yacht making the most of light, unstable conditions during two windward/leeward races to each take a first and third place. It is luxury yacht Alegre, which led the Championship until the final day in 2013, that tops the overall standing going into the second half the week, 1.5 points ahead of Robertissima III with perennial powerhouse crew on Ràn 5 a further 0.5 point back in third. Up to three races remain.

Fact: Positioned bow to stern, the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup fleet measures close to 1km (962.81m), the equivalent of nearly ten FIFA World Cup pitches. The Mini Maxis make up 171.14m.

J-Class

In contrast to the raw power of the Racing Mini Maxis, the four-strong J-Class is a display of classic elegance. A mix of restorations and replicas, the J-Class hark back to the 1930s, a stylish and glamorous era.  Cutting-edge racing craft in their day, competing for the America’s Cup, the J-Class are owned and sailed by those passionate about the past. Graceful to watch, captivating to sail, the class is equally defined by the Corinthian spirit of its competition. At 43.7m (143ft) superyacht Lionheart, a replica of an original design, is the largest in attendance. Competition is provided by two more replicas in luxury yacht Rainbow and charter yacht Ranger, and last year’s winner, super yacht Velsheda, a restoration.

Andres Soriano's ALEGRE (GBR) rounding Mortoriotto - Photo by Rolex Carlo Borlenghi

Andres Soriano's ALEGRE (GBR) rounding Mortoriotto - Photo by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi

A crew of 35 skilled sailors is required to plan and execute flawless manoeuvres. “Every manoeuvre has its time and point to make a decision. The tactician and the navigator know those cut off times and they have to make a decision at that certain point,” explains Jeroen de Vos, who designed Rainbow for Dykstra & Naval Architects. Today the fleet was presented with a classic Costa Smeralda course: 31nm up through the twisting channel separating the Maddalena Archipelago from mainland Sardinia. Rainbow proved the most adept, winning the three and a half hour race and in so doing climbed above Lionheart to lead the class with two days racing left.

Fact: Launched in 1933, Velsheda is the oldest yacht racing this week, while Ràn 5 is the newest, launched this year (2014).

Wally

Representing the utmost in modern style the nine yacht Wally Class provides a contrasting view to the both J-Class and Racing Mini Maxi. Founded in 1999, Wally yachts are high performance cruisers typified by expansive teak decks and aggressive hull lines concealing chic, luxurious interiors. Answering the needs of owners for whom the latest in innovative design, construction techniques and sailing technology should be aligned with modern-day comfort, the yachts have proved themselves equally adept on the racecourse.

Sir Lindsay Owen Jones' MAGIC CARPET (GBR) at the start of the Wally division - Photo by Rolex Carlo Borlenghi

Sir Lindsay Owen Jones' MAGIC CARPET (GBR) at the start of the Wally division - Photo by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi

The Wally Class took on the same course as the J-Class on Day 3. The latest interpretation of the concept, the 100-foot Wally Cento super yacht Magic Carpet 3, finished the course in just under three hours, beating last year’s overall class winner J One yacht into second place, with International Maxi Association president Claus Peter Offen taking third in charter yacht Y3K. These three lie atop the standings after four races. J One holds a one-point edge over Magic Carpet 3 and Y3K.

Fact: The J-Class Lionheart displaces a spectacular 170 tonnes, while Magic Carpet 3 tips the scales at 49.95 tonnes, and the Racing Mini Maxi Bella Mente, at half the length of Lionheart weighs a mere 16.8 tonnes, a tenth of the weight.

Supermaxis, Maxis & Dual-purpose Mini Maxis

Elsewhere in the 2014 Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup fleet there are three Supermaxis, goliaths of the sea measuring upwards of 100-ft. Again contrasting designs define the Class. Superyacht Firefly is a modern interpretation of a classic day racer, while luxury yacht Inoui and charter yacht Viriella are simply imperious modern yachts that offer their owners graceful habitats afloat. Firefly leads going into the second half of the competition, but only by one point from Inoui, which has the wind behind her challenge having won yesterday’s 31nm race.

FIREFLY (NED) and HIGHLAND FLING (MON) at the start - Photo by Rolex Carlo Borlenghi

FIREFLY (NED) and HIGHLAND FLING (MON) at the start - Photo by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi

Maxi yachts fill the gap between Mini Maxis and Supermaxis, measuring between 80 and 100 feet. Lord Irvine Laidlaw’s 83-ft hybrid Maxi yacht Highland Fling, is among the fastest boats on show. Three bullets in three races gives her a commanding lead over Tom Siebel’s performance-cruiser the 90-foot Swan superyacht Odin.

Unlike their stripped-out sisters, the Racing/Cruising Mini Maxis offer their owners the opportunity to both race and cruise whenever the mood takes them. Seven are present this year and today’s 23.5nm race proved there is plenty of competition in prospect during the final two days. The 62-foot Bronenosec  took the honours today, denting the previously perfect scoreline of the 79-foot charter yacht Lupa of London. Lupa still leads the class, but Bronenosec has closed the gap to three points.

Fact: The total number of crew registered for the 2014 Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup is 724, just short of the 736 players selected for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.

Today is designated a layday, an opportunity for crews to relax ahead of an intense final two days, which will be punctuated only by a select number of glamorous social occasions that add to the fame and attractiveness of the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup.

2014 MAXI YACHT ROLEX CUP – PROVISIONAL RESULTS DAY 3

Place, Boat Name, Boat Owner, Races- Total Points

Mini Maxi Rolex World Championship

1. ALEGRE (GBR), Alegre Yachting Ltd., 1.5-1-3-4-(5); 9.5

2. ROBERTISSIMA (CAY), Roberto Tomasini, 6-2-1-(5)-2; 11

3. RÁN 5 (GBR), Niklas Zennstrom 4.5-3-2-2-(7); 11.5

Mini Maxi R/C

1. LUPA OF LONDON (GBR), Jeremy Pilkington, 1-1-2; 4

2. BRONENOSEC (RUS), Alpenberg S.A., 4-2-1; 7

3. AROBAS (FRA), Gerard Logel, 2-4-3; 9

Maxi Racing

1. HIGHLAND FLING XI (MON), Irvine Laidlaw, 1-1-1; 3

2. ODIN (CAY), Tom Siebel, 2-2-2; 6

3. BRISTOLIAN (GBR), Bristolian Marine Ltd., 4-4-3; 11

J-Class

1. RAINBOW (NED), SPF JH2, 2-3-1-1; 7

2. LIONHEART (GBR), Stichting Lionheart Syndicate, 4-1-2-2; 9

3. RANGER (CAY), R.S.V. Ltd., 1-2-4-3; 10

Supermaxi

1. FIREFLY (NED), Eric Bijlsma, 1-1-2; 4

2. INOUI (SUI), Marco Vögele, 2-2-1; 5

3. VIRIELLA (ITA), Vittorio Moretti, 3-3-3; 9

Wally

1. J ONE (GBR), Jean Charles Decaux, 1-3-2-2; 8

2. MAGIC CARPET 3 (GBR), Sir Lindsey Owen Jones, 2-1-5-1; 9

3. Y3K (GER), Claus Peter Offen, 3-2-1-3; 9

Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup 2014: Day 2

September 03, 2014

Day 2 of the currently running Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup was marked by clear skies and a fresh mistral breeze. The event represents the sailing’s annual rendezvous for Maxi yachts, hosted by the fantastic Sardinia yacht charter destination – Porto Cervo. Organized by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda (YCCS) as well as the International Maxi Association (IMA), the race has been sponsored by Rolex since 1985.

Roberto Tomasini's ROBERTISSIMA III (GBR) leading the Mini Maxi fleet around the windward mark - Photo by Rolex Carlo Borlenghi

Roberto Tomasini's ROBERTISSIMA III (GBR) leading the Mini Maxi fleet around the windward mark - Photo by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi

The appeal of the Mini Maxi Rolex World Championship is clear. Cutting-edge racing yachts crewed by skilled professional sailors, driven by the energy and passion of their owners. Races decided by fine margins. Nothing left to chance on the water. A sailing environment rated as the best in the world and competition in its truest sense: all seven competing yachts in this year’s Championship are in contention for victory.

The Mini Maxi Class is in the ascendancy; interest is high, enthusiasm palpable and new designs in the offing. Principally featuring 72-ft length boats, the fifth running of the championship is one of the standout features of this year’s Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup.

“The 72-footers are simply the top boats that exist in monohull racing,” reveals Vasco Vascotto, calling tactics on sailing yacht Robertissima III. “The boats are powerful, great to sail, versatile and the owner/driver rule allows the owners to go out and win,” explains Niklas Zennström whose Rán crew is the defending champion, winner of three of the four titles to date. The team to beat.

Bowman watching the competitors from the bow of FIREFLY (NED) - Photo by Rolex Carlo Borlenghi

Bowman watching the competitors from the bow of FIREFLY (NED) - Photo by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi

Hard yards

Leaving nothing to chance on water requires dedicated preparation. The working day for the Mini Maxi crews begins in earnest as the sun rises; physical conditioning and mental wellbeing are treated seriously. All teams have their own approach; whether it be hours in the gym, cycling northeast Sardinia’s mountain bike trails or swimming lengths in the sea.

Alex Schaerer’s luxury yacht Caol Ila R have their own personal trainer to ensure the crew are in shape to face the demands of each day’s racing. “Exercises and a stretching class help the boys wake up ready for the day’s sailing,” explains the crew’s Swiss fitness coach Andre Winterfield, who runs a beach session each morning. “On the boat you have to sprint quickly in different directions, lift heavy sails, be flexible when the boat is moving. We do a lot of group exercises: this improves spirit, creates trust between teammates.”

The emphasis on physical preparation is embraced by Caol Ila R’s rivals. “It’s a heavy boat so everything you do is loaded, especially for the grinders,” explains Terry Hutchinson, a key member of the afterguard on 2012 champion sailing yacht Bella Mente. “These guys train hard, go to the gym everyday. It’s a balance between physical and cardiovascular strength.”

ALEGRE (GBR) sailing downwind to defend her leadership in the Mini Maxi Rolex World Championship - Photo by Rolex Carlo Borlenghi

ALEGRE (GBR) sailing downwind to defend her leadership in the Mini Maxi Rolex World Championship - Photo by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi

Practice makes perfect

The Mini Maxi fleet arrived in Porto Cervo in the week ahead of the event, allowing themselves crucial training days. The Costa Smeralda is a sailing paradise, but a challenging one. “Time on the water and on the boat is the most valuable thing,” reveals sailing yacht Alegre bowman Matt Cornwell. “The ethos of our team is to keep guys together year on year and build on it. It’s a strength of ours.”

“You need a well-honed crew of professionals, we are racing and practicing for up to 75 days a year,” reveals Bella Mente’s American owner Hap Fauth. “It’s a big programme, we move with 2-3 containers, our travelling crew now is 30, 22 sailing and the rest support crew: cooks, carbon fibre and winch guys, sailmakers. It’s not for the fainthearted, it needs to be organised and orchestrated a year ahead.”

Each training session and race is closely analysed, the boat’s performances assessed, data crunched and analysed, the results shared with the team. The quest is continual improvement. “We have a full time data analysis person who collects information and debriefs on the boat’s performance,” says Hutchinson. “When you get to 100% of the boat’s performance and you still get someone going faster than you that’s when you scratch your head and see what you can do in specific situations to race the boat better. It’s the pinnacle of our sport, you fight for every single inch.” “Each day we will make mistakes,” admits Vascotto, “but every day we try to improve, this is the important part.”

Sir Lindsay Owen Jones' MAGIC CARPET CUBED (GBR) rounding Mortoriotto - Photo by Rolex Carlo Borlenghi

Sir Lindsay Owen Jones' MAGIC CARPET CUBED (GBR) rounding Mortoriotto - Photo by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi

Raising the bar

There is widespread belief that this is the toughest Mini Maxi Rolex World Championship to date. Last year’s runner up Alegre, owned by Andres Soriano, appears to have found her ‘sailing legs’ having been the new entry in the 2013 Championship. Meanwhile Zennström is helming a new boat having launched Rán 5 earlier this year.  Zennström’s crew can rely on the latest thinking in Mini Maxi design including a wider hull and narrower waterline, but have had little time to adapt; Bella Mente is hungry to regain her crown after disappointment in 2013; Robertissima III and Jethou are consistent performers; Caol Ila R and Shockwave yacht may be the two smaller, older boats but remain highly competitive especially in light air.

“Everyone is strong and has their different modes and conditions they are good in,” adds Cornwell. “We consider Rán the benchmark in this Class, they have won the championship so any times. However, this year all the teams can win races and the championship.” “This is the event that these boats are built for,” explains Bella Mente’s Mike Sanderson, ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year in 2006, “all seven Mini Maxis are slightly different approaches with the same goal. There are some very successful businessmen and multiple world champion sailors racing against each other. Everyone is used to winning.”

“The 2014 Mini Maxi Rolex World Championship is going to be the toughest one ever because competition is getting better every year – we are improving yet so is every team. There’s going to be tight racing,” promises Zennström.

RAINBOW cuts through the waves of the Costa Smeralda - Photo by Rolex Carlo Borlenghi

RAINBOW cuts through the waves of the Costa Smeralda - Photo by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi

Day 2 – On The Water

The day’s evidence suggests this to be the case. The Mini Maxi Rolex World Championship fleet engaged in two 8nm windward/leeward races designed to test short-course racing prowess. Strategy, tactics, timing and fitness were examined in equal measure. Sailed under a clear blue sky, crews found the tight course and shifting wind rewarded advance planning and determination, while punishing hard errors and weakness. Robertissima III proved boat of the day securing a 2,1 scoreline that moved her into second overall 4.5 points behind Alegre, which finished 1,3. Ràn 5 lies in third, a mere half-point back. Robertissima’s owner, Roberto Tomasini Grinover was understandably delighted: “The racing today was highly competitive. We did very well as the conditions on the racecourse were particularly complicated, and it was very technical racing.”

Both the Wally and J-Class fleets sailed the same courses as the Mini Maxi Racers. With the wind, around 10-12 knots in the first race and 7-9 in the second, swinging up to 40 degrees, it was tough going in the contrasting yachts. Charter yacht Y3K leapt to the top of the Wally standings posting a 2,1 score. Defending champion, Jean Charles Decaux’s J One is in second level on points. Superyacht Lionheart proved the most adept of the J-Class with a bullet and a second. She is now in second overall, level on points with charter yacht Ranger, and one point behind class leader superyacht Rainbow.

The remaining classes undertook a scenic coastal course that saw the yachts head briefly into the Maddalena channel to round Secca dei Tre Monti, before heading south to Mortoriotto. The Mini Maxi Racer/Cruisers sailed 24.7nm, while the Supermaxis and Maxis sailed a slighter longer 28.8nm version of the course. Charter yacht Lupa of London strengthened her grip on the Mini Maxi Racer/Cruiser class by finishing in first. The two Swans Brononesec and @robas are tied in second after coming in second and fourth respectively. Yesterday’s result was repeated in Supermaxi. Superyacht Firefly adding a second bullet to lead from Inoui. The same was true of Maxi, where Lord Irvine Laidlaw’s Highland Fling yacht won again.

While the Mini Maxi Rolex World Championship fleet battle out another two windward/leewards today, the rest of the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup classes will take on a coastal course.

2014 MAXI YACHT ROLEX CUP – PROVISIONAL RESULTS DAY 2

Place, Boat Name, Boat Owner, Races- Total Points

Mini Maxi Rolex World Championship

1. ALEGRE (GBR), Alegre Yachting Ltd., 1.5-1-3; 5.5

2. ROBERTISSIMA (CAY), Roberto Tomasini, 6-2-1; 9

3. Ran 5 (GBR), Niklas Zennstrom 4,5-3-2; 9,5

Mini Maxi R/C

1. LUPA OF LONDON (GBR), Jeremy Pilkington, 1-1; 2

2. BRONENOSEC (RUS), Alpenberg S.A., 4-2-; 6

3. AROBAS (FRA), Gerard Logel, 2-4; 6

Maxi Racing

1. HIGHLAND FLING XI (MON), Irvine Laidlaw, 1-1; 2

2. ODIN (CAY), Tom Siebel, 2-2; 4

3. BRISTOLIAN (GBR), Bristolian Marine Ltd., 4-4; 8

J-Class

1. RAINBOW (NED), SPF JH2, 2-3-1; 6

3. LIONHEART (GBR), Stichting Lionheart Syndicate, 4-1-2; 7

3. RANGER (CAY), R.S.V. Ltd., 1-2-4; 7

Supermaxi

1. FIREFLY (NED), Eric Bijlsma, 1-1; 2

2. INOUI (SUI), Marco Vögele, 2-2; 4

3. VIRIELLA (ITA), Vittorio Moretti, 3-3; 6

Wally

1. Y3K (GER), Claus Peter Offen, 3-2-1; 6

2. J ONE (GBR), Jean Charles Decaux, 1-3-2; 6

3. MAGIC CARPET 3 (GBR), Sir Lindsey Owen Jones, 2-1-5; 8

Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup 2014: Day 1

September 02, 2014

Yesterday, September 1, 2014, was marked by the official start of the 25th edition of the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, which kicked off with gusto as the 35 participating Maxi yachts completed a coastal course through La Maddalena archipelago, a beautiful Sardinia yacht charter destination, nestled in Italy. Strong winds ensured conditions were exciting for the five classes of Maxi yacht contesting the event, among them the beguiling J-Class yachts, where competition offers competitive racing as well as a compelling insight into sailing heritage.

J-Class bowmen calling the start - Photo by Rolex Carlo Borlenghi

J-Class bowmen calling the start - Photo by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi

Restoring glories

Owing to their sleek lines, tall masts and decks gleaming with polished winches and varnished woodwork, the five attending J-Class boats catch many admiring glances on the docks of the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda. The America’s Cup boat of choice in the 1930s, victim of the steel shortage during World War 2 when a number of its kind were destroyed, has enjoyed a revival since the turn of the century. In 2000, the J-Class Association was formed encouraging the construction of replicas of the perished originals. Superyacht Lionheart, superyacht Rainbowcharter yacht Rangercharter yacht Shamrock V and luxury yacht Velsheda are the five J-Class boats on show in Porto Cervo for the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup. The former three are replicas of original designs; the latter two restorations. Graceful to watch, captivating and fun to sail, the Class is equally defined by the Corinthian spirit of its competition.

Jeroen de Vos designed the replica of the original Rainbow for Dykstra & Naval Architects. It was launched in 2012 after two years of intense work between the design studio and shipbuilders Holland Jachtbouw. The great challenge for a latter-day J-Class designer is creating a finished yacht which is aesthetically loyal to its original design, complies with class rules, includes a full, luxury interior and is capable of high performance.

In order to compete on racecourses as demanding as those at the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, the contemporary take on the J-Class requires 21st century engineering musts. “We worked with the original line span from 1934 – it’s the one fixed factor in the design,” explains de Vos, “the boat now has an engine and there are an extra ten centremetres of freeboard to allow for all the systems and interior – all the stuff that they didn’t have in the ‘30s. Additionally, there are powered winches, there is a little deck house, the rig is taller and there is more sail area so while it looks the same from a distance, the way the boats are sailed is completely different from the old days.”

ROBERTISSIMA III (GBR), BELLA MENTE (USA) and JETHOU (GBR) Yachts fighting for the best start - Photo by Rolex Carlo Borlenghi

ROBERTISSIMA III (GBR), BELLA MENTE (USA) and JETHOU (GBR) Yachts fighting for the best start - Photo by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi

Bouwe Bekking is a professional sailor of considerable expertise, drawing on a career competing on boats as varied as Farr 40s, Volvo 70s and Supermaxis. At the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, he is a key decision maker on Lionheart, a restoration completed in 2010. “I’ve been sailing with Lionheart for about three years,” explains Bekking. “All the boats are pretty similar that’s the nice thing about the J’s. Sailing them goes back to heritage of the America’s Cup, the roots of offshore racing, they are magnificent to view, great to sail.”

The similarities in design of the J-Class yachts ensures close competition in the Class, rewarding who sails best on a given day. They are challenging boats to manoeuvre – loads are enormous, they weigh in excess of 170 tonnes, the sail area can cover up to 1,000m². The crew of 35 skilled sailors onboard need to plan and execute manoeuvres effortlessly, communicate efficiently. “Every manoeuvre has its time and point to make a decision. The tactician and the navigator know those cut off times and they have to make a decision at a certain point,” explains de Vos. “We have departments onboard; the foredeck, mast, middeck and trimmers and back of the boat and a crew boss who needs to reach a couple of people. Then there are the radios, so communication is quick.” “It’s practice, practice, practice,” adds Bekking, “so you can get in a routine that allows the guys can do a good job. However, we approach it like sailing a Farr 40, sometimes jibing every 2-3 minutes. The pressure is on but its great fun when you can pull manoeuvres off in such short distances.”

In parallel with the yesteryear elegance is fierce competition and a will to win as intense as the all out racers contesting the Mini Maxi Rolex World Championship. “They all want to win, the owners are competitive, the atmosphere is nice. It’s great competition, everyone can win,” says Bekking.

BELLAMENTE (USA) chases JETHOU (GBR) downwind - Photo by Rolex Carlo Borlenghi

BELLAMENTE (USA) chases JETHOU (GBR) downwind - Photo by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi

Day 1 – On The Water

Velsheda is the defending J-Class champion, however today it was three-time Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup winner Ranger who claimed the first bullet. Defeating Rainbow by only five seconds on corrected time further demonstrates the close nature of the competition.

The eagerly anticipated first race of the Mini Maxi Rolex World Championship was dominated by Andres Soriano’s sailing yacht Alegre, particularly important as today’s coastal race is doublescored. American Hap Fauth’s luxury yacht Bella Mente claimed second place while Niklas Zennström’s Rán 5, on its competition debut, finished in third.

Elsewhere, defending champion J One won the Wally class, pursued by Sir Lindsay Owen-Jones’s Wally Cento superyacht Magic Carpet Cubed. Luxury yacht Firefly won Supermaxi, Lord Irvine Laidlaw’s Highland Fling yacht prevailed in Maxi Racing and charter yacht Lupa of London triumphed in Mini Maxi racing/cruising.

2014 MAXI YACHT ROLEX CUP – PROVISIONAL RESULTS DAY 1

Place, Boat Name, Boat Owner, Races- Total Points

Mini Maxi Rolex World Championship

1. ALEGRE (GBR), Alegre Yachting Ltd., 1.5; 1.5

2. BELLA MENTE (USA), John Fauth, 3; 3

3. RÁN 5 (GBR), Niklas Zennström 4,5; 4,5

Mini Maxi R/C

1. LUPA OF LONDON (GBR), Jeremy Pilkington, 1; 1

2. AROBAS (FRA), Gerard Logel, 2; 2

3. WALLYNO (LUX), Benoit de Froidmont, 3; 3

Maxi Racing

1. HIGHLAND FLING XI (MON), Irvine Laidlaw, 1; 1

2. ODIN (CAY), Tom Siebel, 2; 2

3. BRISTOLIAN (GBR), Bristolian Marine Ltd., 4; 4

J-Class

1. RANGER (CAY), R.S.V. Ltd., 1; 1

2. RAINBOW (NED), Chris Gongriep, 2; 2

3. VELSHEDA (GBR), Tarbat Investment Ltd, 3; 3

Supermaxi

1. FIREFLY (NED), Eric Bijlsma, 1; 1

2. INOUI (SUI), Marco Vögele, 2; 2

3. VIRIELLA (ITA), Vittorio Moretti, 3; 3

Wally

1. J ONE (GBR), Jean Charles Decaux, 1; 1

2. MAGIC CARPET 3 (GBR), Sir Lindsey Owen Jones, 2; 2

3. Y3K (GER), Claus Peter Offen, 3; 3

Video: 35m Claasen sailing yacht FIREFLY racing in Superyacht Cup Palma 2014

September 02, 2014

This year’s Superyacht Cup Palma, which was hosted at the end of June by the fabulous Mallorca yacht charter destination, nestled in Spain, was an amazing event for all who participated. A total number of five Claasen vessels attended the 2014 race, including charter yacht Atalante, Hearbeat, Lionheart, Drumfire and superyacht Firefly. Below is a video showing the outstanding 35-metre sailing yacht Firefly while competing in the Superyacht Cup Palma 2014, released by Claasen Shipyards.

Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup 2014 to start today

September 01, 2014

An international fleet of 35 Maxi yachts have reached the fabulous Sardinia yacht charter destination – Porto Cervo for one of the sailing calendar’s great annual occasions. This year marks the 25th edition of the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, a competition sponsored by Rolex since 1985 and organized by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda (YCCS) as well as the International Maxi Association (IMA). The event represents a meeting of elegance, power and speed. Weeklong racing will kick off today, on Monday, September 1, 2014.

Dockside preparations at the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda - Photo credit to Rolex Carlo Borlenghi

Dockside preparations at the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda - Photo credit to Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi

Riveting racing

Three-time runner up sailing yacht Alegre starts off as one of the favourites. Andres Soriano’s 2013 launch will be expected to use last year’s strong showing to good measure. Soriano’s former Alegre, now Swiss Alex Schaerer’s luxury yacht Caol Ila R, is one of four other boats in the championship reserved for racing Mini Maxis. 2012 champion Bella Mente yacht and Artemis/George Sakellaris’s sailing yacht Shockwave both represent the United States while Sir Peter Ogden, from the United Kingdom, will be expected to mount a serious challenge with his latest version of Jethou.“One day out, it looks like it’s going to be a terrific week,” explains Principal Race Officer Peter Craig. “We’re going to see plenty of breeze during the first three days of racing. What makes this regatta stand out is the boats, the crews. For big boat racing it doesn’t get any better. I don’t think there’s anywhere in the world that people talk about that is better sailing.”

Skippers Briefing at the YCCS clubhouse - Photo credit to Rolex Carlo Borlenghi

Skippers Briefing at the YCCS clubhouse - Photo credit to Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi

In terms of tight competition, the spotlight will shine brightly on the fifth running of the Mini Maxi Rolex World Championship. At the outset of the week the most pressing question on the sunkissed docks of the YCCS is how Niklas Zennström’s Rán 5 will perform on its championship debut. Rán’s crew has a strong Porto Cervo pedigree, Zennström is the defending champion and with his former yacht Rán 2 won the competition three times. However, in a competition defined by marginal gains she will need to adapt to the challenging environment seamlessly. Curiously, Zennström will come face to face with the boat he helmed to three world titles, now a key rival in the hands of Italian Roberto Tomasini Grinover and renamed Robertissima III. The clash between Zennström’s new and old boat will be an intriguing one.

Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup Event Map - Photo credit to Rolex/KPMS

Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup Event Map - Photo credit to Rolex/KPMS

Style and power

Elegance will be provided by the J-Class. At 43,7m (143ft) superyacht Lionheart – a replica of the original 1930s design – is the largest boat in attendance. Competition will be provided by superyacht Rainbow, charter yacht Ranger, charter yacht Shamrock V and defending champion luxury yacht Velsheda. Boats which weigh in excess of 170 tonnes and possess a sail area close to 1,000m2 require expert handling. Style and top quality racing is always provided by the Wally class which features nine boats including both defending champion – Jean-Charles Decaux’s 80-ft super yacht J-One – and two Wally Centos in Sir Lindsay Owen-Jones’s superyacht Magic Carpet Cubed and Thomas Bscher’s Open Season. Pursuers of power will be impressed by the Supermaxis, imperious goliaths measuring upwards of 100-ft. The 2014 title is up for grabs with three-time winner luxury yacht Nilaya not in attendance. Three contrasting designs –  superyacht Firefly, Inoui and charter yacht Viriella lock horns. Lord Irvine Laidlaw’s Wally 82.8m hybrid yacht Highland Fling, competing in Maxi Racing, will be among the fastest boats on show.

Coastal races through La Maddalena archipelago are forecast for today’s first day of competition. The long wait is now over, the compelling verdicts will be delivered on the water throughout the week.

Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup 2014 to kick off this week

August 26, 2014

A collection of some of the world’s best, fastest and most famous Maxi yachts will be hosted by the fabulous Sardinia yacht charter destination – Porto Cervo for the 25th edition of the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup from 31 August – 6 September. The event will mark the 30th year of the relationship between event organizers Yacht Club Costa Smeralda (YCCS) and title sponsor Rolex.

Maxi fleet during 2013 event - Photo by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi

Maxi fleet during 2013 event - Photo by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi

What’s new this year?

The Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup always welcomes new, cutting edge designs for whom the ultimate proving ground is the event’s myriad of challenging and rocky racecourses. Last year the eye-catching launch was Sir Lindsay Owen-Jones’s Wally Cento superyacht Magic Carpet 3. In 2014 another highly successful businessman passionate about sailing arrives in Porto Cervo with a new build. Niklas Zennström recently launched the Mini Maxi Rán 5 and seeks to continue his impressive run of success at the competition.

Mini Maxi yachts BELLA MENTE and STIG - Photo by Rolex Carlo Borlenghi

Mini Maxi yachts BELLA MENTE and STIG - Photo by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi

Where is the tightest competition forecast?

The appearance of Rán 5 will add intrigue to an already mouth-watering Mini Maxi Rolex World Championship. The class is continuing to grow, not only in numbers but in quality, as rivalries intensify. Zennström won three of the four championships to date with his former sailing yacht Ran 2, now competing as Robertissima III and helmed by Italian Roberto Tomasini Grinover. Hap Fauth’s United States entry luxury yacht Bella Mente is the only other boat to have won the title and will seek to better last year’s fourth place finish when poor performance in the longer coastal races cost her a podium place. Andres Soriano’s sailing yacht Alegre finished second last year in the boat’s debut at the event. Denied by mere seconds in 2013, a year on and with greater confidence in their boat’s potential, Alegre will be one of the favourites. Completing the roster are some great boats and experienced crews: Sir Peter Ogden’s Rán 5 will come face to face with Sir Peter Ogden’s latest iteration of Jethou and United States entries sailing yacht Caol Ila R and luxury yacht Shockwave, class winner at the recent Copa del Rey.

J Class superyacht VELSHEDA - Image credit to Rolex Carlo Borlenghi

J Class superyacht VELSHEDA - Image credit to Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi

And outside the Mini Maxi Rolex World Championship?

Five boats are set to take part in the J-Class which made its return to the event last year. A mix of replicas and restorations of original 1930s designs, this year’s fleet comprises sailing yacht Lionheartsuperyacht Rainbowcharter yacht Rangercharter yacht ShamrockVelsheda yacht. In comparison to the slick, carbon fibre, stripped-out racing boats, the J-Class provides a more genteel and elegant approach to sailing. Handling these boats is not easy though – loads are huge, complicated, everything needs to be executed precisely by up to 40 skilled sailors.

Sailing yacht RAN 2, Mini Maxi Rolex World Champion 2010, 2011 & 2013 - Photo by Rolex Carlo Borlenghi

Sailing yacht RAN 2, Mini Maxi Rolex World Champion 2010, 2011 & 2013 - Photo by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi

And what are the largest boats?

The 67m (220-ft) mega yacht Hetairos set the record as the largest ever boat to compete at the event in 2012 when her immense 62.5m (205-ft) mast dwarfed over most of the fleet. The largest boats outside of the J-Class – where Lionheart measures 43.7m (143-ft) and Ranger 41.6m (136-ft) – are the two Supermaxis superyacht Firefly (35m, 115-ft) and charter yacht Viriella (36m, 118-ft). A near 40-strong fleet is expected to take part comprising boats from around 15 different countries.

Royal Huisman sailing yacht METEOR First in Class and Second Overall at Newport Bucket Regatta 2014

August 25, 2014

This year’s Newport Bucket Regatta, which was held from August 21 to 24, saw the majestic 52m (169’) charter yacht Meteor place first in her class and second overall. Luxury sailing yacht Meteor is a beautiful gaff schooner, built by the prominent Dutch shipyard Royal Huisman in 2007.

METEOR - From Above

METEOR - From Above

Despite a five-minute penalty for an over-enthusiastic start in Race 2, impressive teamwork aboard the magnificent 52m (169ft) gaff schooner Meteor resulted in a highly consistent 2-2-1 scorecard, enabling her to seize First in Class and Second Overall at the 2014 Newport Bucket Regatta.

Given that the 2014 Nantucket featured “the greatest concentration of Bucket top performers of any Bucket regatta ever” (Hank Halsted’s blog) this is an impressive performance for any yacht and especially so for a modern classic such as superyacht Meteor.

Of course, Meteor yacht’s power and speed are not entirely unknown in Bucket circles: she won the St Barths Bucket outright (First in Class and First Overall) in 2009; and she was First in Class at Newport in 2010.

Video: 100 Super Maxi sailing yacht COMANCHE under construction at Hodgdon Yachts

August 25, 2014

Based in Maine, the US shipyard Hodgdon Yachts is currently working on the completion of the all-new fast carbon 30,5m (100’) Super Maxi sailing yacht Comanche. Set for launch in September 2014, the pre-preg superyacht Comanche is expected to participate in major ocean races around the world and break records on existing ocean crossings. Below is a video from the construction of this outstanding vessel, released by Onne van der Wal.

Audi Hamilton Island Race Week 2014: Final Day

August 23, 2014

The best of winter sailing in the beautiful Australia yacht charter destination – Whitsundays capped off competing at this year’s Audi Hamilton Island Race Week. The last day of this popular Australian race was marked by bucket loads of sunshine as well as puffy 18-20 knots of SSE trade winds.

Superyacht Wild Oats XI on final day_credit Andrea Francolini

Superyacht Wild Oats XI on final day_credit Andrea Francolini

Keeping it fresh, the race committee offered crews a navigator’s choice for the deciding race.  At Sidney Island off Lindeman Island, IRC divisions 1 and 2 opted to head for home either via Dent or Hamilton Island. The remaining divisions made the same choice at Isolated Rock.

A full spectrum of conditions over six days created opportunities to climb, and slip down the pecking order. Gear and crew were challenged in various wind ranges – 7-10kts and shortened courses on day one last Sunday to double that today, Saturday August 23, 2014.

IRC div 1 winner Team Beau Beste_credidt Andrea Francolini

IRC div 1 winner Team Beau Beste_credid Andrea Francolini

IRC

Karl Kwok’s all-conquering TP52 Team Beau Geste has cleaned up another major Australian regatta and title. The TP52 has been campaigned on the Australian East Coast for the past two years and raked in the spoils – the TP52 Southern Cross Cup and Audi IRC Australian Championship the biggies.

“We had persistent winds this week, no matter how strong or weak there were no car parks,” said Kwok. “The first day we ran aground due to a miscalculation. After that we got better each day, we rounded off all our rough edges.”

Beau Geste is heading back to Hong Kong for the South East Asian circuit.

Phil Turner’s RP66 Alive from the Derwent Sailing Squadron finished second by four points among the big boat division.

In IRC division 2 Stephen Barlow’s Farr 40 called Forty had enough credits to stay on dry land while the rest of the division fought for the minor placings in today’s 22nm race island course. A lucky break for Barlow and his Sydney based crew as they came ashore yesterday afternoon with 100 buckets of water slopping around in the bilge, a result of rudder bearing damage. Forty is now up on the hardstand at Hamilton Island for repairs.

Dark Star John Bacon MC38_credit Andrea Francolini

Dark Star John Bacon MC38_credit Andrea Francolini

“We were going to race today, luckily we didn’t need to as we were half sinking when we came ashore,” said Barlow. “It’s been a great regatta. We are surprised how we finished given the quality of the IRC competition at Audi Hamilton Island Race Week.”

Post-race the co-owner of Forty, Sam Hill, organised for a couple of bottles of the island’s finest to be sent to the winning crew. Hill was back in Sydney and had calculated Forty couldn’t be beaten well before the news hit the crew dealing with the palaver.

Ross Wilsons’ Race Week regular Eagle Rock, a Beneteau First 47.7, took out second and Geoff Boettcher’s Secret Mens Business third.

IRC division 3 three, victor Local Hero from Canberra Yacht Club led the pointscore from the outset. Four wins from six races for the almost two-decade old boat is even more impressive given Race Week is the one time a year the ACT crew jump aboard the 36-footer that is Airlie Beach based.

“Yesterday was the best, a cracker breeze to claim the series; luckily we did,” said skipper Matt Owen. “None of us sail on this boat regularly, just one regatta a year. We saw almost 20 knots of wind yesterday, which was a little bit scary for us with big waves and whales about. We’ve had a reasonable record at Race Week; in 2010 we won our division and walked away with an Audi as well.

“I’ve done 11 or 12 consecutive Race Weeks,” said the multiple Elliott 7 and Flying 15 national champion. “We’ve got our Flying 15 world champs in France next year so sadly we won’t be at Hamilton Island. It’s really cool that I get to sail at Race Week with all of my mates. We don’t need an excuse to get out of Canberra in August, it’s five degrees at the moment… a bit chilly willy today.”

Newcastle based Beneteau 40.7 Schouten Passage campaigned by the Howard family finished up second on the points table and Andy Kearnan’s Summit 35 L’Altra Donna third in the six race series.

Farr 40 Forty Stephen Barlow_credit Andrea Francolini

Farr 40 Forty Stephen Barlow_credit Andrea Francolini

MC38s

The crew on Leslie Green’s MC38 Ginger celebrated winning the class’ Australian championship once results were posted yesterday afternoon.

John Bacon’s Dark Star from the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club finished with a bullet in today’s passage race and held off class newcomer, Marcus Blackmore and Hooligan, to come in next best behind Ginger by six points after 12 races.

Variable SSE winds 9-15 knots had the one-design fleet taking plenty of water over the decks, Chris Hancock’s Vino topping 14kts of boat speed on the kite run.

CEO’s take

Hamilton Island CEO Glenn Bourke oversaw the smooth running of the 31st edition of one of Australia’s premier yachting regattas, commentated for Audi’s guests and raced part of the week aboard Bob Oatley’s supermaxi yacht Wild Oats XI in IRC division 1.

“We had a great diversity in conditions from the beginning to the end of the week – there was something for everyone,” said Bourke. “The best breeze in years mixed with the entertainment on offer and the opportunity to catch up with old sailing friends really made the week. Our aim is to always do it bigger and better next year.”

Trophy winners will be awarded at tonight’s final presentation function.

Penultimate day of racing at Audi Hamilton Island Race Week 2014

August 22, 2014

The penultimate day of racing at the currently running Audi Hamilton Island Race Week 2014 was marked by rugged-up crew, reefed sails and rockin’ downwind rides, replacing the lazy start to the six day series last Sunday, August 17, 2014.

Aerial view of the Fleet on Day 5 - Photo credit Andrea Francolini

Aerial view of the Fleet on Day 5 - Photo credit Andrea Francolini

There was a buzz around the dock this morning in anticipation of a fresh breeze and return of the S-SE tradewinds to the Whitsundays didn’t disappoint. It’s been a few years since the Race Week fleet was tested – 20-25 knots and a southerly chop to the south of Hamilton Island for the start had the multihull and cruising fleets in heavy weather mode with reefed sails and crew kitted out in wet weather gear.

IRC

Conditions were more moderate for IRC divisions 1 and 2 for the start of their passage race from the eastern area.

The top speed on line honours winner superyacht Wild Oats XI was 21 knots, the supermaxi effortlessly carving through the 23.5 mile race around Lindeman Island, Spitfire Rock Mark and Dent Island to the finish. The crew swapped their normal red shirts to yellow for today’s race, to show their support for the Cancer Council’s Daffodil Day.

Team Beau Geste’s fourth win on corrected time keeps them at the top of the points stack in IRC division 1. The crew of Phil Turner’s RP66 Alive is throwing everything they can at the Australian IRC champion, but while close at just two points behind hasn’t managed to rein them in.

Team Beau Geste IRC leader_credit Andrea Francolini

Team Beau Geste IRC leader_credit Andrea Francolini

“They are the perfect team on the perfect boat. That makes them hard to beat,” acknowledged Alive’s helmsman Matt Chew who is still grinning this afternoon having hit 20 knots of boat speed in 20 knots of wind. “Alive is a handful to manage…a lot of us haven’t raced on anything this big, but I love this boat. I can’t stop smiling,” said the Etchells champion.

In IRC division 2 Stephen Barlow’s Farr 40 called Forty has stretched its winning margin by 11 points over Geoff Boettcher’s Secret Mens Business.

Matt Owen’s Bh36 called Local Hero from Canberra picked up a fourth win today putting them in a winning position in IRC division 3. The Howard family from Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club is the closest boat in second by seven points with their Beneteau 40.7 Schouten Passage, named after the Tasmanian channel.

Non-spinnaker

The smallest boat in the 182-strong fleet is John Parkes’ Spider 22 Mark 1 called Untamed. Trailered all the way from the Illawarra, south of Wollongong on the NSW coast, Spider is racing in non-spinnaker division 2 for its first Race Week experience.

It’s a simple set up on the 1980-built 22-foot trailer sailer; bucket and sponge, bunks for six “if you want to get really cosy” warns Parkes, a camp stove, kettle, toaster, night light and hairdryer to dry out the timber at the top of the keel so it doesn’t swell with moisture.

Upwind cruising_credit Andrea Francolini

Upwind cruising_credit Andrea Francolini

“We have all the mod cons,” smiles Bates. One disappointment at Race Week is they miss the free sausage sizzle each afternoon for the cruising boats on F & G arm, “By the time we get in they are all gone,” he rues. Untamed is third overall with one race remaining in their series.

The largest in the fleet at 112 feet is Sassafras, the New Zealand superyacht also racing in non-spinnaker division. To compare with Untamed, Sassafras has below decks a tumble drier, dishwasher, washing machine, nine flat screen TVs, two dining areas and six bathrooms. “You name it, the boat’s got it,” said skipper Andrew Senn.

MC38s

A win and a second today, Friday August 22, 2014, has Leslie Green’s Ginger from the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia leading the one design class’ national title with a day to go. John Bacon’s Dark Star from the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club is second with 11 points back and clubmate Marcus Blackmore’s Hooligan third thanks to a bullet and a third today.

Performance Racing

Local skipper Bruce Absolon shrugged off the smaller boats nipping at his Volvo 60’s stern in the division’s two windward/leeward races in Turtle Bay.

So close were Absolon’s Spirit of The Maid, Walter Lewin’s Vento and Russell McCart’s VO60 Spirit of Mateship for the first race that “a blanket could have been put over the three boats” reckons Absolon.

He went on to win that race and is ahead of the rest on series results. Short course racing generally suits the lighter and smaller planing boats. Not the case today with the heavy 17-year-old boat in the groove. “We’ve had no decent breeze for the past four Race Weeks and finally today we were able to show our true colours,” Absolon said. “Our balanced crew weight thanks to 19 guys on the rail played in our favour too.”

Colour

Team Oracle USA America’s Cup winning strategist and Olympic gold medallist Tom Slingsby popped down to the Melges 32 dock this morning to have a chat with the young crew on Barry Cuneo’s Envy Scooter about their preparation for the class’ world championships at the end of the year.

Crews took a break from the seriousness of competition for this morning’s Prix d’ Elegance, gunning for the best themed yacht and best presented yacht as judged by the panel sitting atop the flag deck at Hamilton Island Yacht Club. The winners will be announced at tomorrow night’s closing trophy presentation dinner.

Tomorrow marks the end of racing for the 31st edition of Audi Hamilton Island Race Week. The forecast is identical to today; 18-22kt S-SE winds, possibly locally stronger.