This year will see one of the sporting world’s most enduring partnerships celebrate a significant milestone: the 30th anniversary of the relationship between Rolex, Nautor’s Swan luxury sailing yachts and the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda (YCCS), partners in the biennial Rolex Swan Cup. One of the world of sailing’s signature regattas, this year’s event will run in the fantastic Sardinia yacht charter destination – Porto Cervo from September 8 to 14.
The 2014 Rolex Swan Cup will once again provide the dynasty of elegant Swan yachts an opportunity to engage in close racing in the challenging and scenic waters off Porto Cervo, Sardinia. Following directly on from the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, held at the same venue, this year’s 18th edition will provide a typically graceful spectacle conducted in the traditional spirit of ‘gentlemen sailing’.
“The Rolex Swan Cup is one of the iconic regattas in the world. It is rewarding to see how it builds up and is consolidated event after event,” explains Leonardo Ferragamo, Chairman of Nautor’s Swan since 1998. “It represents the utmost co-operation between three great entities: Rolex [title sponsors since 1984], the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda [event organizers] and, of course, Nautor’s Swan.” Fittingly, 2014 also marks the 30th year of the partnership between Rolex and the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda.
“The event embodies several values, first of all the pleasure of owning a Swan,” continues Ferragamo, a long-time and passionate Swan owner and sailor. “A Swan owner is a person who really loves their boat and is full of pride, dedicating time and energy to their yacht. Swan owners have passion and a noble approach which is characterized by the racing and the competitive spirit that shines through at the Rolex Swan Cup.” These principles firmly align with those of Rolex. For over a century the Swiss watch brand has derived inspiration from people and events that define quality, precision and prestige.
Tradition & innovation
Rolex has championed innovation from the very beginning, adapting to dynamic, changing lifestyles and pioneering the development of the wristwatch as early as 1905. The brand is at the origin of numerous major watchmaking innovations, such as the Oyster, the first waterproof wristwatch, launched in 1926, and the Perpetual rotor self-winding mechanism, introduced in 1931. In the course of its history, Rolex has registered over 400 patents. Famous worldwide for the chronometric precision, robustness and reliability, and uncompromising quality of its timepieces, Rolex seeks to promote the virtues of excellence across a wide spectrum of activities, from sports – including yachting – and exploration to the arts.
Likewise, Nautor’s Swan has been synonymous with elegance, style, innovation and reliability throughout its nigh-on 50-year history. When he founded the company in 1966 in Pietarsaari, Finland, Pekka Koskenkyla was inspired by hundreds of years of Finnish boatbuilding to build high-quality, high-performance sailing yachts. Ninety-five different models of Swans have been produced, measuring, from the first design, some 11 metres (36ft) through to an ambitious 39.9m (131ft).
Sparkman & Stephens of New York, one of the most acclaimed yacht designers at the time, was persuaded to draw the lines of the first Swan yacht, which was built in fibreglass. Prior to this point, nobody had built a boat over 10 metres long in this material. Fibreglass was then still new to yacht building, but would dominate mass production of boats in years to come. Proof of the longevity and quality of these designs are demonstrated by the large number of Sparkman & Stephens yachts still competing at the Rolex Swan Cup today.
The first Swan model was the Swan 36, a yacht that introduced a significant number of innovations, several of which were aimed at improving steering stability, such as: positioning the rudder fully aft, separating it from the full length of the keel and thickening the aft section of the keel. The Swan 36 proved equal to more traditional wooden boats in general handling and safety, but outshone them with better performance under sail and improved living space.
This small but impressive beginning ensured the growth of the most revered boat builder in the world, one that would shape the history of sailing. Nautor’s Swan quickly became synonymous with quality, elegance, reliability and prestige. All Swan yachts are marked simply by an unmistakable ‘arrow’ – indented in every hull – a mark so iconic that the brand name is not needed to identify the yacht afloat.
In the 1980s, Nautor’s Swan entered a new era with the appointment of naval architects German Frers as its house designer. Frers has been responsible for the design of all production Swan yachts since, and has helped the Finnish builder reinforce the vital balance between producing boats dually designed to race and cruise. In 2012, Nautor’s Swan celebrated the launch of its 2,000th boat, the Swan 90S superyacht Freya. Similarly, integrity, consistency and reliability are the foundation on which the peerless reputation of Rolex watches is built. These virtues apply to every aspect of the company’s activities, from the manufacture of each timepiece, in which every element – from the rotor to the bracelet – meets the highest standards, to the quality of after-sales service worldwide.
World-renowned sailor and Rolex Testimonee Paul Cayard is a long-time admirer of Nautor’s Swan yachts and a frequent competitor at the event: “The Rolex Swan Cup in Porto Cervo is a historic event in our sport because it has a lot of tradition. The Swan yacht has gone through a gentle evolution over the years, but has always maintained its style, class and quality.”
Competition and camaraderie
The five classes of Swan yacht competing in Porto Cervo this year are: the Maxi (18.29 metres and above), Grand Prix (18.28m and below), Classics (vintage/historical designs by Sparkman and Stephens), Club Swan 42 and Swan 45. The latter, the Swan 45 one design class, will compete in its own World Championship. Winners of all categories will be awarded a coveted Rolex timepiece.
Ferragamo draws pleasure at seeing the ClubSwan family of owners and enthusiasts united both at the Rolex Swan Cup in Porto Cervo and, since 2013, at the biennial Rolex Swan Cup Caribbean which takes place at the YCCS’s stunning base in Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands. It creates a genuine sense of belonging in the sailing world: “The atmosphere is friendly and sporting; people like being here together, racing their boats and sharing their experiences,” he says. This passion for yachting and the event’s Corinthian spirit are sentiments embraced wholeheartedly by Rolex.