Supermaxi Luxury Yacht & Superyacht News

Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez 2014

October 06, 2014

Les Voiles de Saint Tropez celebrated its 15-year existence with splendour and grand spectacle this year. The popular Mediterranean regatta was hosted by St. Tropez, a fantastic French Riviera yacht charter destination, from September 27 to October 5, 2014.

Les Voiles de St Tropez 2014 - Sailing yachts Marygold and Partridge

Les Voiles de St Tropez 2014 - Sailing yachts Marygold and Partridge - Photo credit to Gilles Martin-Raget

The wind and sea gods gifted them with some exceptional conditions offering 4,000 sailors from the world over, on some 300 Modern or Classic yachts, a packed week of racing, enjoyment and conviviality. And so the curtain falls this Sunday after a final moment shared between competitors with the traditional prize-giving for the 20 competing classes. There were some nice surprises amidst the list of winners, starting with the names of newcomers like Olympian, which triumphed among the gaffers and Dorade among the Marconis, as well as confirmation of the safe bets from their respect circuits, superyacht Magic Carpet3 among the Wallys and sailing yacht Robertissima III (ex Ran) among the large IRCs.

André Beaufils, President of the Société Nautique de Saint-Tropez: “Another edition draws to a close and every year we find ourselves starved of superlatives in our bid to translate the general satisfaction. We have just enjoyed a beautiful edition. Every year we try to improve what is perfectible with small, added touches, and we continue to find little elements to modify. The competitors were able to get out on the racecourse everyday so they are happy. Our partners are delighted. Their guests cannot stop singing their praises. All our teams, both on shore and on the water have done a remarkable job in a great atmosphere. I am a happy President. After each edition we have a debriefing and we decide on what needs to be improved. That has been the case this year with the renewing of two of our Race Committees. For the future, we are considering making some minor modifications to the race village, if only to adapt to the work of the harbour master’s office, which will be in effect next year. The owners of the large classic boats are always appealing to us and we’re looking for solutions to satisfy as many of them as we can. We’re certainly going to address the balance between the number of traditional and modern yachts and we’re reconsidering our categories so as to best respond to the desires of certain categories of boats. The very core of my satisfaction is rooted in the observation that all our volunteers work with such passion and good humour. Those who are at the venue make Les Voiles their own, anxious that everything runs smoothly. Everything is coloured by good humour.”

Les Voiles de St Tropez 2014 Day 1

Les Voiles de St Tropez 2014 Day 1 - Photo credit to Gilles Martin-Raget

A snapshot of Les Voiles 2014

‘Grand Tradition’ group

As its name suggests, this group gathers together today’s largest classic craft and naturally it was dominated by the power of the immense charter yacht Elena of London (Herreshoff 2009) and her 1,300m2 sail area, ahead of superyacht Mariquita, the large gaff cutter by William Fife (1911) and the young centenarian charter yacht Moonbeam IV (1914).

Epoque Aurique A (Period Gaffer A) group

This year the category gathered together 14 sumptuous gaff-rig cutters, schooners or sloops, measuring 9 to 19 metres in length, half of which were over 100 years old. Up against the stalwarts of the podium in Saint Tropez, Nan of Fife (Fife 1896) and Bonafide (Sibbick 1899), it was newcomer Olympian, an American P Class from 1913, which triumphed supreme, leaving Chinook (Herreshoff 1916) to battle over the runners-up prizes with another surprise newcomer, Folly (Camper and Nicholson 1907) helmed in Saint Tropez by German Frers.

Epoque Aurique B (Period Gaffer B) group

A category placed under the glare of the spotlight this year by the awarding of the Rolex Trophy, this highly prestigious group is very coherent in terms of performance and is widely considered to be the ultimate expression of the classic spirit. The group’s triumphs went to the oldest yachts in the entire Les Voiles’ fleet. Launched in 1885, the gaff cutter Partridge honoured her fabulous creator, John Beavor Webb, by getting the better of the formidable yet dynamic ‘small gaffers’, Jap (Fife 1897) and Lulu (Rabot-Caillebotte 1897).

Les Voiles de St Tropez 2014 Day 1

Les Voiles de St Tropez 2014 Day 1 - Photo credit to Gilles Martin-Raget

Marconi A group

Among those carrying triangular sails or Marconi rigs, a most splendid spectacle was offered up by one and all, both in terms of pure aesthetics and the sporting intensity of the races. The American 12 m JI Seven Seas of Porto (Crane 1935) showed herself to be a cut above the rest, utterly dominating every race. The pacy sloop Rowdy, (Herreshoff 1916) hadn’t experienced such stiff competition for a long, long while. However, she managed to salvage something from the wreckage by securing second place ahead of another star of Les Voiles, the famous Marconi yawl designed by Olin Stephens, sailing yacht Manitou (1916).

Marconi B group

The Class Q designed by Paine (1930), Jour de Fête, entrusted to the expert hands of Pascal Oddo, triumphed during each of the three races validated in this group. Leonore, the other Q Class designed by Johann Anker, was unable to respond other than by keeping the Marconi sloop Sirius (Stephens 1930) astern of her to snatch second place.

Epoque Marconi C (Period Marconi C) group

This was another group, which was remarkably well balanced and gave rise to some delightful battles. Of these, it was the now legendary newcomer (Sparkman and Stephens 1930) Dorade yacht, helmed by her American owners Matt and Pam Brooks, which triumphed after a superb hand-to-hand combat with the no less legendary Skylark of 1937 (Olin Stephens) and Cholita (Potter 1937)

Epoque Marconi D (Period Marconi D) group

Smaller in size, the protagonists of this group from between the 1920 and 1950s raced entirely coherently. The May design Arrow from 1924 imposed ahead of the Cornu design Jalina (1946) and Sonda, a sublime 8m from 1951 designed by Gruer.

Classic Marconi A group

The large Italian Marconi sloop Il Moro di Venezia was embroiled in a fierce combat throughout the week but ultimately managed to resist the attacks of the formidable 12 m JI Sovereign skippered by the Bérenger brothers (Boyd 1963) and Ikra Boyd 1964). Eventually Philippe Monnet was able to get his 1956 Sparkman&Stephens design Lys onto the podium to conclude the achingly tight racing in this group.

Classic Marconi B group

The André Mauric design Marconi sloop Fantasque took the win ahead of Maria Giovanna (Stephens 1969) and Outlaw (Illingworth 1963)

J Class: Ranger supreme

Four J Class boats really were a feast for the eyes amongst amateurs and experts alike offshore of Pampelonne. These giants managed to complete 4 races and charter yacht Ranger, a beautiful replica by Jackson dating back to 2003, utterly outwitted her adversaries superyacht Velsheda (2nd) and Lionheart yacht.

15 m JI; The Lady Anne’s revenge

Though the Annual Trophy for the 15 m JI was already in the hands of sailing yacht Mariska (Fife 1908) before Les Voiles even kicked off, the Britons on The Lady Anne (Fife 1912) made it a point of honour to conclude this fine year with victory in Saint Tropez. Mariska snatched second with one Pierre Antoine Morvan at the helm, ahead of Hispania (Fife 1909) and Tuiga.

“Vintage” 12 m JI

Four Vintage 12 m JIs were competing in their own race circuit at Saint Tropez. Wings (Nicholson 1937) secured the win with two victories of the three races run, ahead of Vanity V (Fife 1936) and Vim (Stephens 1939)

Tofinous and Code 0

They represent the classic spirit in its modern version and so it was that the Tofinous and Code 0s were able to race on the same race zone as the classic yachts, combining their carbon sails with the large cotton sails. It was the Tofinou 12 Camomille who bagged the win ahead of the other Tofinou 12 Milou and Aloha 2, François Bouy’s Code 1.

Modern craft

Five groups from the IRC rule were this year accepted on the Modern round in Saint Tropez.

IRC A

This category witnessed an absolute jewel of a battle between the impressive Maxi 72 prototypes, with Robertissima III (Judel Vrolijk 2009) taking victory and sailing yacht Jethou (JV 2012), just beaten to second place by luxury yacht My Song, the Nauta 84 designed by Reichel Pugh in 1999.

IRC B

The X Yacht INXS RD by Philippe Frantz made a stunning comeback after a calamitous first day to rack up four race wins and dominate the densest and most homogenous group of the modern yachts. She was some three boat lengths ahead of Les Voiles’ stalwart, James Blackmore aboard Music, the large Frers-design Swan, and the other Music, a Swiss Baltic 590.

IRC C

Another newcomer to Les Voiles that really made her presence felt is the TP 52 Nanoq and her “all star” crew led by James Spithill, who secured victory thanks to a marvellous start to the week. Astern of her was the other TP 52 Gladiator skippered by Tony Langley, and Spirit of Malouen VI skippered by Sébastien Petit Huguenin.

IRC D

Some of the greatest international builders can be found amongst this eminently competitive group. Adrien Follin and Give me Five were victorious by a narrow margin against Frédéric Bouillon and his Wallis. Michael Mueller on Pappes made it onto the third step of the podium.

IRC E

It was a fine victory for the A35 Chenapan with 3 successes out of the 5 races validated, ahead of another A35, Tchin skippered by Jean Claude Bertrand and the Lago 950 Java Bleue, skippered by the lovely Jacky Maitre.

WALLY

Equalling the record, some twelve Wallys graced Les Voiles in their dedicated round off Pampelonne. Magic Carpet3 took the win, though the grand slam eluded them after they lost their hold on victory in the third race to Magic Blue, which managed to secure second place overall ahead of the 94-foot superyacht Galma.

THE TROPHIES

Rolex Trophy (1st Period Gaffer B yacht): Partridge

Edmond de Rothschild Trophy (1st Modern yacht over 16m): Robertissima III

BMW Trophy (Wally Class): Magic Carpet3

Town of Saint Tropez Cup (1st Modern yacht outright): Robertissima III

Yacht Club de France Trophy (YCF): Alcyon

Trophéminin (Women’s Trophy) (1st female crew): No Limit

French author: Denis van den Brink

Hodgdon announces launch of 100ft carbon race yacht COMANCHE

October 06, 2014

Hodgdon Yachts is thrilled to announce the launch of the all-new 100-foot pre-preg carbon race yacht Comanche. The mighty sailing yacht Comanche hit the water at the company’s yard in East Boothbay, Maine on Saturday, September 27, 2014.

Launch of the 100ft superyacht Comanche by Hodgdon Yachts

Launch of the 100ft superyacht Comanche by Hodgdon Yachts

Next, superyacht Comanche will be towed to Newport Shipyard, Rhode Island, where the rig and the keel will be fitted, and then sea trials will begin, before making the voyage aboard ship to Sydney, in Australia to compete in the famed Sydney to Hobart Race.

“She was designed and built to break monohull sailing records”, said Timothy Hodgdon, President of Hodgdon Yachts.

100ft sailing yacht Comanche at launch

100ft sailing yacht Comanche at launch

Racing yacht Comanche was commissioned by Jim Clark about a year ago. With black and red paint, the vessel boasts an impressive beam of 30ft. The build of Comanche was completed by about 60 workers in only one year. The hull was constructed at the Hodgdon Yacht facility in Boothbay, while the mast and keel were built by the companies from New Zealand and Italy, respectively.

100ft Hodgdon super yacht Comanche on the water

100ft Hodgdon super yacht Comanche on the water

Luxury yacht Comanche was constructed with aerospace technology that comprises the usage of pre-impregnated composite fibres, “pre-preg,”. The vessel is expected to break records in the upcoming races, also thanks to this advanced technology.

Below is a video from the launch of sailing yacht Comanche, released by Onne van der Wal and shared by Hodgdon Yachts:

Oyster Regatta Palma 2014: Race Day 2

October 03, 2014

With a glance at the forecast before this year’s Oyster Regatta Palma kicked off, the faint hearted might have tutted and raised eyes upwards beseeching at least sailable winds. But as so often in Palma, fact has been better than forecast. Race Day One came up trumps with two of the series’ sought five races completed in middle breezes, and today, Race Day Two, a patchy but practical north-easterly secured a further double with at day’s end four races now in the bag, leaving just one more to grab for the chance of a discard, before settling this lively match playing out between the fleet of 26 Oyster yachts.

Oyster Regatta Palma 2014 Race Day 2

Oyster Regatta Palma 2014 Race Day 2 Image by: Martinez Studio

“It was a tough day,” said Race Officer David Tydeman, Oyster’s CEO, “two challenging races, the first in the lighter morning wind short with no time for mistakes, and then a  longer more complex course in the afternoon with time for it to go either way.”

That mix of races introduced a mix also into the results, defining winners and losers whether on the right or wrong side of the shifts, and now results in all three classes (split by boat size: Class 3 Oyster 45 to 575, Class 2 625 to 655, and Class 1 82 to 100)  rests on tomorrow’s race. Perfect in regatta terms, suspense right to the end.

Out on the committee boat suspense and intake of breath came fast, though, today, as David Tydeman reported: “After the Pantaenius Insurance prizes last night for good starts, oh boy, was it taken to the limit with in the morning’s race three Class 2 boats hitting the line all within three seconds, Oyster 625 Flying Spirit first across, just one second off, and in Class 1 the new 825 Reina four seconds free.”

Day 2 of Oyster Palma Regatta 2014

Day 2 of Oyster Palma Regatta 2014 Image by: Martinez Studio

The afternoon race four then saw Oyster 53 Spindrift cut the line tight for Class 3 while Flying Spirit led Class 2 again just one second short of the line, with on the next start Class 1’s Reina bursting through a hard fought positioning squabble with sailing yacht Starry Night of the Caribbean to squeeze a tight slot and a quick-fire two seconds to spare. Impressive all, and aggression’s not at all bad when practised well!

Talking with crew on Oyster 575 Boarding Pass iII, the day sounded to have played out quite fairly, thinking the morning went ok and, though missing a few calls,  better than the afternoon, particularly when the wind fell and kites for some stalled on the last reach before the final leg home. A pleasant surprise then when at the evening’s party at the hosting Real Club Nautico de Palma, owners Bill Munro and Susan Harris picked up the trophy for first in this Pelagos sponsored race. Behind in second, having picked up pace and forging a good lead for a very considerable chunk of the race was Paulina and Mariusz Kierebinscy’s Oyster 46 SUNsuSEA, which for those not getting it, is a disguised French Sans-souci – carefree!

In Class 2, as yesterday, in both races the two 625s Lady Mariposa and Guardian Angel took first and second, each now having taken daily double firsts, and with in the first race today Lady Mariposa crossing the line just 30 seconds ahead before in the afternoon sailing  a stunning race pulling a full 12 minutes corrected on Guardian Angel. Back to the morning, though 655 iSNL, formerly Black Pearl, took third while John Marshall enjoyed sailing his newly brokered Rock Oyster, a 655 also, into fourth place.

In Class 1, 825 superyacht Reina though taking line honours ended fourth also on corrected just eight seconds behind 885 luxury yacht Karibu in third while 82 Starry Night of the Caribbean pulled into second and Sir Frank Chapman on 885 charter yacht Clare scooped top spot, later beaming as he collected his Dolphin Sails sponsored swag at the evening presentation.

In the afternoon, on-the-ball calls and really sweet work swung fortunes with Reina this time the clear winner not just one the water, a full 4-minutes-44 corrected in front of second placed Karibu. Cutting a swathe through the smaller boats advance party she sure turned heads and in some instances looked straight down on haircuts from her neatly laid overtaking lanes and tight mark turns. Clare this time came in third, while between fourth-placed Oyster 100 superyacht Penelope and Starry Night in fifth, just 12 seconds settled scores.

Behind Lady Mariposa’s and Guardian Angel’s irrevocable hold on Class 2, David and Joanne Furby sailed their, also 625, Vamos into a worthy third just 70 seconds behind.

Sailing an absolute blinder in Class 3 after a closely grouped start, Rory and Susie McGrath soon had to look hard and far behind from their 53 Spindrift for the rest of their class. Growing their lead over even other classes, at mark four of five they were incredibly third of full-fleet to round, ahead even of 885s Karibu and Clare.  Quite something after more than an hour of racing. As the crew later said, “Yep, we got some things right, particularly preparation. So many seem to wait to hoist until after the mark, we were clew tight and hoisting as we rounded, that’s maybe five boat lengths every time.”

That of course doesn’t account for everything but the effect is clear. However, avoiding those hoists completely, and still faring incredibly well, Class 3 colleague, the new-build 575 Silver Lining, might tempt some study. Judy and Max Morrison have sailed just two and a half months with her, though that does include 3000 miles straight from commissioning in Ipswich and then around the Med a while. Yet they have never raced anything other than in Max’s very early dinghy years, and are consistently placing well. Second this afternoon, third this morning, and two seconds yesterday, and all this on white sails only every time. The principle? As Max and Judy explain: “It’s simpler… and we take long tacks. It takes a minute or more to tack and get going again properly and that’s a lot of boat lengths lost, so keep on going!” Max does confess though that those dinghy days seem to have left a good trace of what feels right and wrong. Whatever… seems to work!

It also demonstrates the wide take on the virtues and variety of Oyster sailing portrayed by the spread and wealth of experience within the fleet here.  And this will again be put to the test tomorrow for the fifth and last race in the series, with the outcome of that and the discard it enables settling just who will be the Oyster champions in Palma this year. In Class 1 there’s just one quarter of a point between Reina, currently first, and Karibu, second, while in Class 2 there’s nothing at all between Guardian Angel and Lady Mariposa, they’re neck and neck. In Class 3 a bigger three and a half a points divides one and two, with, yes, the newbie Silver Lining currently front runner.

But series over that’ll still not be the end of it. If the weather holds, a final pursuit race is planned for a fourth day of racing on Saturday with ratings reworked to reflect the week’s actual sailing stats. And first boat home wins… first though there’s tomorrow!

Oyster Palma Regatta 2014: Race Day 1

October 03, 2014

As crews busied around in the last preparations for the first day’s competing in the Oyster Regatta Palma 2014, some were already out in the bay testing conditions and feeding back good news. What seemed only a light breeze in the Real Club Nautico de Palma dock was already blowing between 13 and 17 knots outside. Race Officer, Oyster CEO, David Tydeman in his start-of-day fleet call proposed two races if the NE gradient breeze held. More than just hold, it built, peaking around 18knots, giving good racing morning as well as afternoon to the amazing 26 Oyster yachts measuring from 45 to 100ft (14-33m) in length, split between three classes, each with its own staggered two starts.

Oyster Palma Regatta 2014 Race Day One

Oyster Palma Regatta 2014 Race Day One - Image by Martinez Studio

At the top of the fleet in Class 1 there was, as David Tydeman describes it: “A good battle between sailing yacht Reina (Oyster 825/01) and superyacht Karibu (885/02) swapping first places. The wild card was Oyster 82 luxury yacht Starry Night of the Caribbean, sailed very well, and just pipping Karibu into second place in the first race by 10 seconds.”

Class 2 was very close also between Guardian Angel and Lady Mariposa, the hot shot 625s /03 and /05 with their fully battened mains and carbon rigs making a bigger difference here in Palma’s flat tactical waters than in the bigger Caribbean seas of the Antigua regatta where Vamos and other 625s were swapping places among them. Vamos held on well again today, pulling a third in Race One behind Guardian Angel first, Lady Mariposa second, that pair then going on to finish in the same order just two seconds apart in Race Two. In Class 3 the tactical choice of going ‘white sails’ rather than ‘colour’ gave some interesting results, particularly for Judy and Max Morrison aboard Oyster 575 Silver Lining who called well with ‘white’ for both races, placing second in both in their first ever regatta.

The morning’s race was a simple 10 mile triangle with Class 3 the first across the line with its blend of novice and not so frequent to regular battlers chivvying around the course, Race One mostly colour sails, Race Two the converse, with generally a deal of learning that led to smoother deck work and sail handling in the afternoon and consequent virtual top and bottom half swap. Rory and Susie MacGrath of Oyster 53 Spindrift enjoyed the fruits of their newly found racing resolve pulling first in Race One, while in Race Two it was the oldest boat in the fleet, Oyster 45 Yo Ho Ho of Sark’s turn giving new owners Neil and Sue Speed victory on their very first day of sailing their new charge… yes, you read that right, their first day of sailing, and they’d never raced before either. Poignantly, they have experienced, big-boat hands Nick and Lou Sutton aboard who sailed far and wide with the previous owners Stephen and Alison Yeo including their very first Atlantic crossing in 1996 when they’d just bought the boat new.

Oyster Palma Regatta 2014

Oyster Palma Regatta 2014 - Image by Martinez Studio

In a really good showing of Oyster’s family sailing DNA, Oyster 46 SUNsuSEA had three generations of the Kierebinscy family aboard, everyone having active responsibilities, including daughter, aka grand daughter, Klaudia driving off the quay, grandfather Jacek on main sheet, and co-skippers Mariusz and Paulina supported by son Marcin and step-son Peter, new to sailing who yet turned his hand to stripping down and replacing rope jammers just before leaving dock.

Their Race One was unfortunately effectively surrendered to spinnaker snuffer troubles, but Race Two under white sails saw a climb back to a happier fourth.

Mariusz and Paulina have sailed SUNsuSEA, their first owned boat, extensively both sides of the Atlantic since sailing her straight from the factory to the Canaries and the ARC in 2009, enjoying the Caribbean for two years before returning east, stopping in the Canaries for two more years before shooting back into the Med last year. Racing though has not featured other than the Oyster Grenada and BVI regattas, last in 2011. As Paulina says: “Three years past, good memories, but a long time ago!” To which Mariusz wryly adds: “At least we weren’t at the back of both races – we’re slowly moving forward!”

In Class 2 as already said there’s an extraordinary tussle at the top between those two fliers Guardian Angel and Lady Mariposa, with Guardian Angel’s Maxim Kudryashov reflecting that the higher winds as today suit him better and he likes the way the fleet is becoming “more competitive, more challenging” but that there’s still a “kind” approach, with particular mention to Class 1’s Oyster 100 superyacht Penelope and 885-02 Karibu.

Guardian Angel took both her races but Lady Mariposa gave serious contention while watching 625 Vamos closely too. “Vamos is the dark horse,” says Lady Mariposa’s skipper Dan Hardy, “she’s been poling out A sails, diving a bit deeper… we’re seeing a lot more of her.” This is Vamos owners David and Joanne Furby’s third Oyster regatta after two in the Caribbean where they’ve had a good time. So watch this space.

New 625 Tiger owner Simon Pullar also pulled a blinder. A complete rookie racer who took delivery of the boat only in April, he notched a remarkable third in Race Two, 69 seconds ahead of Vamos. Simon has his brothers Tim and Nick aboard and not only was this for all of them their first day’s racing, it’s the first time they’ve ever sailed together. There’s another Tim on board, too, so to avert disaster they’re careful not to call “Dump it, Tim” when both are on sheets! Of their day and the sense of regatta, Simon declares: “Fantastic, no other word, a great, great day. To class race boats like this, there’s nothing to beat it.”

Class 1 with its big boats getting ever bigger is always good value on the water and this year with the arrival of Reina, the first 825 off the line, it’s been given a pep of a different new order. The latest completed Humphreys/Oyster collaboration, Reina is really proving a top line performer in this, her first regatta.

Sailing to an already excellent second and third behind Reina in the day’s two races, Steve Branagh aboard regatta stalwart 82 Starry Night of the Caribbean reported Reina: “A very quick boat, no doubt about it.” And pulling that first and then a second, effectively out-sailing 885s in three of four chances today, her owner’s unsurprisingly of much the same sentiment. Reina skipper Jarrod Cripps says of the owner’s reaction: “Absolutely chuffed, it’s been a long journey and he says he’s now seen what’s possible, it’s opening a whole new world. I’ve been with the boat since blueprints and as we finished I said thank you, Reina, I’m just so pleased.”

With such a good first day’s racing for the entire fleet, and an extra race already under the collective belt, it was then coach loads of smiling faces all the way to the city’s commanding iconic, exquisitely renovated 13th century hillside Castillo Bellver for a relaxed prize giving and evening of terrific contemporary gypsy music and dance under the wide open circular roof of this extraordinary stone fortress… another Oyster first.

With daily prizes for each class’s top four, David Tydeman thanked Raymarine and Lewmar for their kind sponsorship of the day’s races and also Pantaneus for start line-merit prizes, too. The forecast for race Day Two looks to be north easterly again but a little lighter. We’ll see!

Rolex Middle Sea Race 2014, October 18 – 25

October 02, 2014

To be hosted by the beautiful Malta yacht holiday destination, nestled in the Mediterranean, this year’s 35th edition of the Rolex Middle Sea Race is fast approaching and appears likely to rewrite the record books. Entries are shortly due to close and the Royal Malta Yacht Club is already preparing to welcome the biggest fleet to grace its island home since the Great Siege of 1565. The Ottoman Armada of 450 years ago was recorded to be 193 in strength. This year’s race entry is presently 129 and, even with the likelihood of some falling by the wayside before the start on Saturday, 18 October, there is every possibility that the number crossing the start line in Grand Harbour will exceed the current highest entry of 99 participants, set in 2013.

Royal Malta Yacht Club - Image credit to Rolex Kurt Arrigo

Royal Malta Yacht Club - Image credit to Rolex/Kurt Arrigo

The vibrant interest in this 606-nm offshore race reflects a resurgent passion within the yacht racing community for events that offer a proper test to both Corinthian and professional crews. The similar length biennial Rolex Fastnet Race is the biggest in terms of sheer numbers, attracting in excess of 300 yachts in each of its two most recent editions. This year’s 70th edition of the Rolex Sydney Hobart (slightly longer at 628-nm) anticipates a fleet around 130 yachts, which would be its largest entry for 20 years.

International scope

As a core component in the offshore ‘circuit’, the Royal Malta Yacht Club can take pride in its ability to consistently draw yachts from around the world. Italy and the United Kingdom provide a solid foundation, with Russia, Germany, The Netherlands and France sizeably swelling the ranks. The local Maltese naturally contribute a good contingent, while entrants from Australia and the USA add a touch of glamour to a nation/territory roster that currently stands at 23.

Winning winds

Predicting the outcome of the race is full of ‘what ifs’ this far out. Superyacht Esimit Europa 2 is the most powerful boat, and a banker to be first home should all go according to plan. Skipper Jochen Schümann is looking forward to the race: “The Rolex Middle Sea Race is both the highlight and the end of the year for Mediterranean offshore sailing. It is a tradition and one of the best races we do.” If the wind cooperates Schümann will undoubtedly have half an eye on the course record of 47 hours 55 minutes and 3 seconds set by American George David’s Rambler in 2007. His crew will take nothing for granted having had to withdraw from last year’s race after the yacht’s rig broke during the delivery passage to Malta.

The wind gods will also play their part in determining the overall victory. Swedish internet entrepreneur, Niklas Zennström will be hoping the mythological deities will favour his latest Rán yacht (named after a Norse sea goddess) in the quest to add the Rolex Middle Sea Race to his impressive list of palmarés, which includes back-to-back Rolex Fastnet wins. Zennström’s Maxi 72 recently finished second at the Mini Maxi Rolex Worlds in Porto Cervo.

The Greek pair of Pericles Livas and Nikos Lazos, racing the 52-ft Optimum 3 will recall their famous victory in 2004, and will hope the mid-fleet gets the better of the conditions as they prepare for another assault on the course that takes yachts from Malta, north to the Strait of Messina, past the volcanic island of Stromboli across the northern coast of Sicily, through the Egadi Islands and south to Lampedusa and Pantelleria, before heading eastwards back to Malta. Another former winner, Lee Satariano skipper of the 40-ft Maltese yacht Artie, which sent national pride soaring in 2011,will be leading the prayers for the smaller yachts in the fleet.

Whatever the eventual conditions and the eventual outcome, the 2014 Rolex Middle Sea Race looks set to further cement the race’s place in the gilded pantheon of offshore yacht racing. And, the island at the ‘Crossroads of the Mediterranean’ will take centre stage once again as a cosmopolitan fleet prepares to take on this classic adventure.

Photos from launch of 100 Super Maxi Yacht COMANCHE by Hodgdon Yachts

October 01, 2014

The US builder, Hodgdon Yachts, has successfully launched the all-new fast carbon 30,5m (100’) Super Maxi yacht Comanche. The pre-preg sailing yacht Comanche is expected to attend major ocean races around the world and break records on existing ocean crossings. She will be put to the test for the first time during the 2014  Rolex Sydney to Hobart Race. Below are the photos from the launch of this impressive vessel, North Sails President Ken Read and shared by Hodgdon Yachts.

Hodgdon Yachts ready to launch the 100ft sailing superyacht Comanche

Hodgdon Yachts ready to launch the 100ft sailing superyacht Comanche - Photo credit to Ken Read

Superyacht Comanche ready to be launched by Hodgdon Yachts

Superyacht Comanche ready to be launched by Hodgdon Yachts - Photo credit to Ken Read

Sailing yacht Comanche on the water

Sailing yacht Comanche on the water - Photo credit to Ken Read

A huge success of Vc Metalwork clients at 2014 Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup

September 16, 2014

Vc Metalwork are very proud of the winners of this year’s Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, which was hosted by the lovely Sardinia yacht holiday destination – Porto Cervo from August 31 to September 6. The company is proud to have worked with the programs of four out of the six class winners: J Class sailing yacht Lionheart, Wally Class winner Magic Carpet Cubed yacht, Supermaxi winner superyacht Firefly, and Mini Maxi’s new World Champion Alegre yacht.

Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup 2014 - Photo by Rolex Carlo Borlenghi

Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup 2014 - Photo by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi

Claasen Shipyards built Super J Lionheart yacht took her third gold in a row, having won the Menorca Maxis, The Superyacht Cup, and now the Rolex Maxi Worlds. Vc Metalwork have worked extensively with Lionheart over the past few months, redesigning their jib Cunningham system, modifying the headstay pin, and re-fabricating a number of interior fittings; as well as working with the yacht in Mahon in collaboration with Carbo-Link.

The Vc Metalwork Wally Yacht clients that came in the top three are Magic Carpet Cubed and superyacht J One. S/Y Magic Carpet Cubed, who won against four time champion charter yacht Y3K and reigning champ S/Y J One, recently contracted Vc Metalwork to reinforce all her Titanium gates.

James King, Commercial Director for Vc Metalwork, was in Porto Cervo raving last week, James says: ‘What a great week of racing in Sardinia with almost perfect conditions and a practically windless lay day. The YCCS pulled out all the stops this year. The courses were well suited to us on Wally 107’ superyacht Kenora and the yacht showed her real potential under pressure, especially on the reaching legs. Finishing mid fleet on the water shows how the commitment of the owners to improve performance has paid off. Fighting tooth and nail with the 80’s and J one there were a few exciting moments and we look forward to more close racing in Les voiles de St Tropez at the end of September.’

Vc Metalwork in Palma de Mallorca design and fabricate high quality marine components. Experts in marine & aerospace materials e.g Titanium,17-ph4, Nitorinc 50, Duplex 2205, hybrid plastics.

Video: 60m Perini Navi sailing yacht SEAHAWK at Loro Piana Caribbean Superyacht Regatta & Rendezvous 2014

September 16, 2014

Perini Navi Group has released an amazing video showing the impressive 60-metre sailing yacht SEAHAWK (hull C.2193) at the 2014 Loro Piana Caribbean Superyacht Regatta & Rendezvous, which was hosted by the fantastic Virgin Gorda yacht charter location, nestled in the Caribbean’s British Virgin Islands, from March 19 to 22. Luxury mega yacht SEAHAWK has been beautifully designed by the yard’s in-house team, in partnership with bespoke yacht designer, Ron Holland.

Hodgdon Yachts to open an office in Newport, Rhode Island

September 12, 2014

This year’s Newport International Boat Show will see Hodgdon announce the opening of a new sales and marketing office in Newport, Rhode Island. Hodgdon will announce it at a reception for the press at the Hodgdon Yacht Services exhibit, on Friday, September 12, at 5PM at Tent G37.

Eric Leslie to join the new Hodgdon sales and marketing office in Newport, R.I.

Eric Leslie to join the new Hodgdon sales and marketing office in Newport, R.I.

The new office will serve primarily to promote Hodgdon boatyard and shipyard refit and maintenance services now under the banner of Hodgdon Yacht Services with facilities in Southport, Boothbay Harbor and East Boothbay, Maine.  The Newport office will compliment Hodgdon’s locations in the Boothbay region and its new office in Monaco.

Hodgdon Yacht Services was launched in the 2nd Quarter of this year under the leadership of Sandy Spaulding, President,  to organize all Hodgdon service activities with the acquisition of the former Boothbay Region Boatyard in Southport Maine, the Wotton’s Wharf dockage facility in Boothbay Harbor, Maine and existing superyacht refit activities at the East Boothbay shipyard.

Eric Leslie (above) has been hired to staff the Newport office.  Eric is a well-known and well regarded member of the yachting  community in the greater Newport area. Eric will also help promote other Hodgdon initiatives including superyacht interiors, superyacht tenders and new yacht construction.

The press reception will also highlight news on other Hodgdon projects such as the upcoming launch of the 100 ft. pre-preg racing sailing yacht COMANCHE, the refit of 118 ft. NOELANI yacht , the build of a 65 ft. Dave Pedrick designed cold molded sailboat PIERA and the superyacht tenders under construction.

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