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2014 MAXI YACHT ROLEX CUP: CROWNING GLORY

September 06, 2014

Organised by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda (YCCS) and the International Maxi Association (IMA), and sponsored by Rolex since 1985, the 25th edition of the sailing spectacular – the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup has seen new class championships announced, following the final verdicts on the water delivered during today’s exhilarating and decisive race.

THE FLEET GETTING TO MORTORIOTTO ROCK UNDER SPINNAKER - Photo Rolex:Carlo Borlenghi

THE FLEET GETTING TO MORTORIOTTO ROCK UNDER SPINNAKER - Photo Rolex:Carlo Borlenghi

Andres Soriano’s sailing yacht Alegre claimed a first Mini Maxi Rolex World Championship following a final day head to head with Roberto Tomasini Grinover’s resilient yacht Robertissima III. In the Wally Class, Magic Carpet 3 yacht sealed the title after a week of numerous twists and turns; Lionheart yacht is the new J-Class champion; in Supermaxi Firefly yacht confirmed her domination of the regatta; sailing yacht Lupa of London claimed Maxi racing/cruising. At the final prizegiving, class winners received a Rolex timepiece and Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup trophy.

Alegre: Joy Unconfined
Tension on the docks was palpable this morning. Crews desperately sought to maintain a sense of composure ahead of an intense day’s racing; tactical plans were clarified, sail choices defined. In the Mini Maxi Rolex World Championship, Alegre had twice gone into the final day (2010, 2013) with destiny in her own hands. On both occasions she lost out to Niklas Zennström’s Rán 2. This year Zennström and his new Rán 5 were out of the running, beginning the day in third place and over ten points behind the leader. Alegre would still have to defeat Zennström’s all-conquering boat – the former Rán 2 is now in the capable hands of Grinover. Three points separated the two teams. Two windward/leeward races remained. All to play for.

ALEGRE (GBR) TEAM, WINNER OF THE MINI MAXI ROLEX WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP - Photo Rolex:Carlo Borlenghi

ALEGRE (GBR) TEAM, WINNER OF THE MINI MAXI ROLEX WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP - Photo Rolex:Carlo Borlenghi

We can’t let them [Robertissima] get away. We need to be cautious and keep it close,” confirmed Alegre’s Olly Cameron pre-race. On Robertissima, the atmosphere was disteso. “We are lucky to have this opportunity and we should be proud of what we have achieved until now,” said tactician Vasco Vascotto. “We just need to focus on sailing well. We said to the crew this morning treat it like it’s a Saturday race with your local club, pretend there’s not something important at stake. If we give our all it’s enough.”

ANDRES SORIANO'S ALEGRE (GBR), OVERALL WINNER OF THE MINI MAXI ROLEX WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP 2014 - Photo Rolex:Carlo Borlenghi

ANDRES SORIANO'S ALEGRE (GBR), OVERALL WINNER OF THE MINI MAXI ROLEX WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP 2014 - Photo Rolex:Carlo Borlenghi

In a gustier day than expected – winds averaged 18-20 knots – it was Rán who enjoyed a typically impressive final fling claiming bullets in both races to finish third overall; more importantly Alegre’s third and fourth places were enough to curtail Robertissima’s dreams of success and in the process seal that elusive title.

“It’s a great achievement for the team to be World Champion,” said Soriano. “I’m relieved, it’s something we strove for, we’ve been (in this position) twice already and we finally were able to get over the last hurdle. We sailed our own race; loose, relaxed, confident like we have all week. This year the level of the competition has been raised, more than any of us could have imagined.” The dockside congratulations reserved for Soriano from fellow Mini Maxi owners demonstrated that while the Class is about tough, competitive racing on the water, a gentlemanly spirit punctuates rivalries.

Magic Carpet: Flying

In the Wally class, there was no obvious favourite going into today’s racing. The three leading crews were separated by just one point, all had winning Porto Cervo pedigree, all had led at some point during the week. Frenchman Jean-Charles Decaux’s defending champion J One began the day level on terms with Claus-Peter Offen’s four-time winner  yacht Y3K. Stalking just one point behind was Sir Lindsay Owen-Jones, five-time winner at the event, and his Magic Carpet 3.

MAGIC CARPET CUBED (GBR) CREW, WINNERS OF THE WALLY CLASS - Photo Carlo Borlenghi : Rolex - Photo Rolex:Carlo Borlenghi

MAGIC CARPET CUBED (GBR) CREW, WINNERS OF THE WALLY CLASS - Photo Carlo Borlenghi : Rolex - Photo Rolex:Carlo Borlenghi

A third bullet of the week enabled Magic Carpet 3 to take the first windward/leeward race; Y3K stumbled early suffering from a poor start; J One could not match Magic Carpet’s mastery of the conditions and had to settle for third. Magic Carpet’ssupremacy was confirmed in the final race as her rivals fell by the wayside; J One had to retire; equipment issues led to Y3K yacht failing to finish; survival of the fittest and third place was enough for Owen-Jones to claim a first success with his 2013-launched Wally Cento.

“It was a close week,” reflected Owen-Jones, “J-One sails well, I know it well having been a boat of mine. We’ve been coming here a long time, it is the one we all want to win.”

Lionheart: Valiant

Sleek lines, tall masts and decks gleaming with polished winches and varnished woodwork, mean the J-Class boats have caught many admiring glances. The four-strong fleet swapped positions throughout the week, magnified during racing today. With defending champion Velsheda yacht out of the running after a poor week by her standards it was left to Lionheart, Rainbow and Ranger to compete for the title.

CREW OF LIONHEART (NED), WINNERS OF J-CLASS DIVISION - Photo Rolex:Carlo Borlenghi

CREW OF LIONHEART (NED), WINNERS OF J-CLASS DIVISION - Photo Rolex:Carlo Borlenghi

Going into the final race, Lionheart, Rainbow and Ranger yacht were tied at the top on ten points. Winner would take all. “It was pretty tough out there today,” explained Lionheart tactician Bouwe Bekking. “In the last race we didn’t make a brilliant start, but then we had a good run and got right back into it, Rainbow lost their spinnaker, and we had to tack off to clear it; they then had a tussle with Velsheda.” It was a tussle which finished in the Protest Room and saw Rainbow, winners on the water, disqualified. “Sometimes that’s how yacht racing goes,” reflected Bekking. “It has been really close, better racing you can’t get. The crew won us the regatta.”Lionheart’s day did not start well. Last place in the first windward/leeward race following a jib problem handed the initiative to her rivals; Rainbow faired little better, penalised for crossing the start line too early and finishing in third; Velsheda took the bullet, Ranger claimed second place.

LIONHEART (NED), OVERALL WINNER IN J-CLASS DIVISION - Photo Rolex:Carlo Borlenghi

LIONHEART (NED), OVERALL WINNER IN J-CLASS DIVISION - Photo Rolex:Carlo Borlenghi

A full review of the 25th Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup will be available on Tuesday 9 September.

2014 MAXI YACHT ROLEX CUP – PROVISIONAL RESULTS DAY 4

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)-1.5-3-4; 18

2. ROBERTISSIMA III (CAY), Roberto Tomasini Grinover, 6-2-1-5-2-3-(5)-3; 22

3. RÁN 5 (GBR), Niklas Zennström 4.5-3-2-2-(7)-9-1-1; 22.5

Mini Maxi R/C

1. LUPA OF LONDON (GBR), Jeremy Pilkington, 1-1-2-1-(7); 5

2. BRONENOSEC (RUS), Alpenberg S.A., (4)-2-1-2-3; 8

3. AROBAS (FRA), Gerard Logel, 2-4-3-3-(5); 12

Maxi Racing

1. HIGHLAND FLING XI (MON), Irvine Laidlaw, 1-1-1-1-1; 4

2. ODIN (CAY), Tom Siebel, 2-2-2-2-(2); 8

3. BRISTOLIAN (GBR), Bristolian Marine Ltd., 4-(4)-3-3-3; 13


J-Class

1. LIONHEART (GBR), Stichting Lionheart Syndicate, 4-1-2-2-1-(4)-2; 12

2. RANGER (CAY), R.S.V. Ltd., 1-2-(4)-3-2-2-3; 13

3. RAINBOW (NED), SPF JH2, 2-3-1-1-4-3-(5); 14

Supermaxi

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

2. INOUI (SUI), Marco Vögele, 2-2-1-2-(2); 7

3. VIRIELLA (ITA), Vittorio Moretti, 3-3-3-3-(3); 12

Wally

1. MAGIC CARPET 3 (GBR), Sir Lindsey Owen-Jones, 2-1-5-1-(5)-1-3; 13

2. J ONE (GBR), Jean Charles Decaux, 1-3-2-2-3-3-(10); 14

3. Y3K (GER), Claus Peter Offen, 3-2-1-3-2-4-(10); 15

2014 Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup: Day 4

September 05, 2014

The final races of the 2014 Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup had dramatic showdowns and the verdicts in the three classes will be determined during tomorrow’s day. All classes raced a coastal course today with around seven knots from the north at the start, building to a 12-15 knot north-easterly midway through the race.

THE FLEET GETTING TO MORTORIOTTO ROCK UNDER SPINNAKER - Photo Rolex:Carlo Borlenghi

THE FLEET GETTING TO MORTORIOTTO ROCK UNDER SPINNAKER - Photo Rolex:Carlo Borlenghi

The Mini Maxi Rolex World Championship is living up to its pre-event billing as the tightest and most competitive in its five-year history. Heading into today’s critical coastal race, just two points separated the leading three teams.

Consistency, sound decision-making and taking only calculated risks are credited as the determining factors in such a tight championship. Andres Soriano’s sailing yacht Alegre, three-time runner-up, is proving the most reliable performer. “It’s going to be a very competitive week. One mistake and that’s that,” promised Soriano ahead of the competition. Today Alegre assumed impressive control of the 25-nm long coastal race after rounding the first mark well ahead of her rivals. Her lead remained unthreatened for the remainder of the race, which took yachts south to Mortoriotto, back up the coast into the Maddalena Archipelago and a brief glimpse of Bomb Alley, before turning north to Monaci and the run home.

JEAN-CHARLES DECAUX'S J ONE (GBR) LEADING THE WALLY FLEET - Photo Rolex : Carlo Borlenghi

JEAN-CHARLES DECAUX'S J ONE (GBR) LEADING THE WALLY FLEET - Photo Rolex : Carlo Borlenghi

Robertissima III yacht, the Italian-crewed boat (and former Rán 2, last year’s winning yacht), has enjoyed a terrific week and today claimed second place. She trails Alegre by three points ahead of tomorrow’s two scheduled windward/leeward races, and Alegre’s crew know from bitter experience that such a margin is vulnerable. “We’ve been playing averages. It would have been nice to have put more points between ourselves and Robertissima ahead of the final day, but these two boats now have a jump on the fleet,” said Alegre’s Olly Cameron. “We can’t let them [Robertissima] get away. We need to be cautious [tomorrow] and keep it close.”

The learning curve for Robertissima owner Roberto Tomasini Grinover and his crew has been steep but one they are mounting at impressive velocity. “We are an inexperienced team in this class. Less than a year ago, we were here looking at the 72-ft boats and said how wonderful they were,” explains tactician Vasco Vascotto. “It’s a dream to be part of this class – it is not only about great boats but top class teams. We want to be very competitive.”

Niklas Zennström’s Rán crew started the week as the defending champion and have experience in making dramatic comebacks in Porto Cervo, but today’s sixth place on his new Rán 5 has all but ended the crew’s chances of a fourth title in five years. A new champion is all but guaranteed after 2012 victor Bella Mente also struggled in today’s coastal race, leaving Hap Fauth’s crew in fourth.

Wally Form

Engaging competition and a dramatic final day is also offered by the Wally class. Four-time winner, Claus-Peter Offen and Y3K yacht are tied on points with defending champion Jean-Charles Decaux and his J One crew. And one point behind lies Magic Carpet 3. Y3K performed better of the three teams today, finishing in third while J One claimed fourth and Owen-Jones’s Magic Carpet 3 had to settle for sixth.

“The Wally class is very strong,” explains Offen, President of the International Maxi Association, “with the two Wally Centos (Magic Carpet 3 and Open Season) and many other well-sailed yachts, it will not be easy for Y3K to win the Wally title back, but we are working on it.”

J-Class report

The only certainty in the J-Class is that a new champion will be crowned. Velsheda has failed to finish higher than third all week, leaving a three-way battle between sailing yacht Rainbow, Lionheart and charter yacht Ranger for the title. The week’s largest boat, the 43.7m Lionheart holds a slender one-point advantage over Rainbow, three-time winner Ranger is a further point adrift.

Elsewhere, bullets today have handed Firefly yacht (Supermaxi), sailing yacht Lupa of London (Mini Maxi Racing/Cruising) and Highland Fling (Maxi) insurmountable leads in their respective classes.

Racing ends tomorrow. Up to two windward/leeward races are scheduled for the Mini Maxi Rolex Worlds fleet, the J-Class and Wally, while the remaining classes will sail a coastal course.

A full review of the 25th edition of the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup will be available tomorrow.

Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup

The Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup is organized by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda (YCCS) and the International Maxi Association (IMA). Rolex has been title sponsor since 1985.

2014 MAXI YACHT ROLEX CUP – PROVISIONAL RESULTS DAY 4

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)-1.5; 11

2. ROBERTISSIMA (CAY), Roberto Tomasini, 6-2-1-(5)-2-3; 14

3. RÁN 5 (GBR), Niklas Zennstrom 4.5-3-2-2-(7)-9; 20.5

Mini Maxi R/C

1. LUPA OF LONDON (GBR), Jeremy Pilkington, 1-1-2-1; 5

2. BRONENOSEC (RUS), Alpenberg S.A., 4-2-1-2; 9

3. AROBAS (FRA), Gerard Logel, 2-4-3-3; 12

Maxi Racing

1. HIGHLAND FLING XI (MON), Irvine Laidlaw, 1-1-1-1; 4

2. ODIN (CAY), Tom Siebel, 2-2-2-2; 8

3. BRISTOLIAN (GBR), Bristolian Marine Ltd., 4-4-3-3; 14


J-Class

1. LIONHEART (GBR), Stichting Lionheart Syndicate, (4)-1-2-2-1; 6

2. RAINBOW (NED), SPF JH2, 2-3-1-1-(4); 7

3. RANGER (CAY), R.S.V. Ltd., 1-2-(4)-3-2; 8


Supermaxi

1. FIREFLY (NED), Eric Bijlsma, 1-1-2-1; 5

2. INOUI (SUI), Marco Vögele, 2-2-1-2; 7

3. VIRIELLA (ITA), Vittorio Moretti, 3-3-3-3; 12
Wally

1. Y3K (GER), Claus Peter Offen, (3)-2-1-3-2; 8

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

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

Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup 2014: Day 4

September 05, 2014

An important part of any yacht race or regatta is the expertise of the organizing body. Top class events, attended by cutting-edge, expensive yachts and the cream of international sailing talent, require the highest professionalism in their race management. Participants require competing to be fair, enjoyable, well managed. Such an event is the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup: one of the most illustrious and complex regattas in the world. The stakes are high, attendees ultra competitive and the wind capricious.

Mini Maxi Rolex World Championship approaching the starting line - Photo by Rolex Carlo Borlenghi

Mini Maxi Rolex World Championship approaching the starting line - Photo by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi

The Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup is held on Sardinia’s Costa Smeralda, often described as one of the most perfect sailing landscapes in the world for grand prix racing. The event celebrates its 25th edition this year and the 30-year association between the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda and Rolex, one of the most longstanding relationships in sailing.

“This is always the top pick of where we like to sail around the world,” explains world-renowned sailor Brad Butterworth. “The environment of the Costa Smeralda is fantastic: the rock formations, the colour of the water, the wind and sea conditions, there is nowhere as beautiful as this for yacht racing.”

Rolex’s involvement in yachting is centred upon its privileged alliance with some of the most skilled yacht clubs around the world, including the YCCS, whose race management team is highly respected through its flawless handling of events like the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup and the Rolex Swan Cup. Ensuring the regatta runs smoothly and efficiently on the water falls to the YCCS Race Management Team led by Principal Race Officer Peter Craig and YCCS Sports Director Edoardo Recchi.

CAOL ILA R (USA) sailing by the Committee Boat - Photo by Rolex Carlo Borlenghi

CAOL ILA R (USA) sailing by the Committee Boat - Photo by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi

Course planning

One of the principal functions of the race management team is to ensure clear communication between the organizers and the competitors. Ahead of the event, the individual classes for different boat types are defined, ratings analysed, race documents meticulously prepared. The Skippers’ Briefing kicks off the week providing a communal opportunity for last minute queries. A global idea of the week’s weather and racing schedule are provided, and then each evening the intention for the following day is given.

Communication with the competitors begins each morning with a radio announcement at 09:30. Ahead of this, Craig works with the YCCS Race Management team, analysing up to five professional weather forecasts. This information helps determine location and length of the day’s racecourses. The team will also canvas the opinion of the professional navigators onsite, weathermen in their own right.

“When people ask me what a good race is, I’ll tell them in one word: fair,” explains Craig. “If you are a sailor, or former sailor like in my case, you have a good sense of what the owners want, you’ve been there on the boat with them, you know what they are looking for.”

According to Craig, making good decisions is not a one person job, he’s only as good as the people around him, and the YCCS team is highly respected by the competitors. “The yacht club is high end in terms of race management, they’re on top of everything, very professional. They have been here for a long time, they know the environment and conditions,” confirms Butterworth, tactician on Sir Peter Ogden’s Mini Maxi yacht Jethou.

View of a Mini Maxi Rolex World Championship start from the Committee Boat - Photo by Rolex Carlo Borlenghi

View of a Mini Maxi Rolex World Championship start from the Committee Boat - Photo by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi

Clean start

To the untrained eye, the starting area on the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup can appear confused. Watching 35 yachts ranging from 60 to 143-ft hoisting sails, running through last minute preparations, ensuring they make the right choice about where and when to cross the start line is nerve-jangling. There is order; each class has its own individual start time, its own sequence of instructions to follow. “As it gets closer to the first gun the boats not involved in that start will clear out and give appropriate room to the starting class,” explains Craig. “We’re looking for people to behave themselves, you will hear us on the radio if they are not.”

One of the key factors at the start is ensuring no boat crosses the line too early. When competitors are timing their arrival by split seconds, seeking small but significant advantages, it’s a critical, but difficult task for the race officers. “These boats have the latest technology, the very best sailors, so they are not two or three boat lengths beyond but a matter of metres. If they have started early and must double-back, we have to make that call.” The Race Committee has boats stationed at both ends of the start line to ensure an optimum view.

Sir Peter Ogden's JETHOU (GBR) surfing the waves at full speed downwind - Photo by Rolex Carlo Borlenghi

Sir Peter Ogden's JETHOU (GBR) surfing the waves at full speed downwind - Photo by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi

Adapting to conditions

Once a race has started, the focus changes to ensuring the racing remains fair on the water. Planning commences beforehand. “We look at the VPPs (speed predictions) for each of the boats in each of classes, because they can vary greatly. We decide what the starting order and the differential between start times should be,” explains Craig. “You don’t want to have a one hour starting sequence but at the same time you don’t want one class of boats running over a second 15 minutes into a race. There’s an awful lot that goes into it. It’s a challenge, but it’s a challenge we really enjoy.”

One additional layer of complexity is that racing may take place simultaneously on more than one course. While one group may be contesting windward/leeward racing on a narrow, short racecourse, others will be embarking on a coastal race upwards of 40-nm through La Maddalena’s rocky archipelago. “We have YCCS service boats with very capable people tracking the boats reporting back to the race officer what the wind conditions are, where the boats are on the racetrack, if conditions are changing drastically.”

Shared respect

Monitoring the finish line is generally easier than the start but scrutiny is still needed. In the Mini Maxi Rolex World Championship it is not uncommon to have two or three boats finishing in close proximity. Results then have to be calculated and published.

For Craig this ends a busy, stressful but enjoyable day. “When the Race Management team have pulled off a great day’s racing, particularly on the hard, difficult days, it’s the same satisfaction you experience when you have a great day as a competitor. You come in feeling good about what you’ve done.”

The proof of success lies in the post-race atmosphere, as the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup community gather on Piazza Azzurra in front of the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda to discuss the day’s racing. There is evident camaraderie and shared respect, not just between competitors, but between competitors and the Race Management team too.

Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup

The Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup is organized by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda (YCCS) and the International Maxi Association (IMA). Rolex has been title sponsor since 1985.

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 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.

Yacht Club Costa Smeralda (YCCS) preparing for September Rolex Regattas

August 05, 2014

While holidaymakers flock to the fabulous Mediterranean yacht charter destination – Sardinia in Italy to enjoy fantastic beaches and sweltering August temperatures, staff at the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda (YCCS) are busy with preparations for two major international regattas in September. The Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup (31 August – 6 September) and the Rolex Swan Cup (8 – 14 September) will welcome thousands of sailors from all over the world to the exclusive resort of Porto Cervo for 2 weeks of world-class sailing. Each of the events will also play host to an epic battle for the title of  World Champion 2014 as first the Mini Maxi class, and then the Swan 45 class compete for victory in their respective fleets.

Yacht Club Costa Smeralda - Photo by Jeff Brown

Yacht Club Costa Smeralda - Photo by Jeff Brown

The Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup and Mini Maxi Rolex World Championship will see 36 sailing giants, ranging from sleek racing machines to genteel vintage yachts, line up to compete on coastal – and for some classes windward-leeward – courses over five days of racing. Organized by the YCCS in collaboration with the International Maxi Association, the event has everything from five stunning J-Class yachts (sailing yacht Lionheart, superyacht Rainbow, charter yacht Ranger, charter yacht Shamrock, Velsheda yacht) to a fleet of eight highly competitive Mini Maxi yachts contending for the class Worlds. The fleet comprises several yachts that have been regulars at the event for many years, several of which are owned by YCCS Members such as IMA President Claus-Peter Offen with his 30.5 metre charter yacht Y3K, Sir Lindsay Owen-Jones with the Wally Cento superyacht Magic Carpet 3 and Lord Irvine Laidlaw with the 25-metre sailing yacht Highland Fling. Newcomers to the event are the 2013-launched Swan 80 yacht No Timing alongside the modern 44-metre J-Class Lionheart which boasts round-the-world sailor Bouwe Bekking on tactics.

Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup 2013 ©Carlo Borlenghi

Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup 2013 ©Carlo Borlenghi

Among the Mini Maxi yachts competition will, as always, be fierce. Niklas Zennstrom, three-time World Champion and current title holder, will be looking to confirm his top spot with his new 2014-launched sailing yacht Ràn while Hap Fauth’s luxury yacht Bella Mente, the only other winner of the World title since its institution in 2010, will be keen to return to glory. Italy’s yacht Robertissima, owned by YCCS Member Roberto Tomasini Grinover, will also be one to watch: although a newcomer to the class in 2014 the crew, which also competes regularly in superyacht and one-design classes, already claimed victory in the Rolex Capri Sailing Week in May.

The Rolex Swan Cup entry list counts 86 boats representing 21 nationalities and covers the entire spectrum of the Nautor’s Swan fleet, from classic Sparkman and Stephens designs to performance one-design models such as the Swan 60 class and luxury cruisers such as the superyacht Swan 90. Seven Swan 45 boats – including 2012 winner Earlybird, owned by Nagel and Brandis – will be competing for their annual class World Championship during the event.  The remainder of the fleet will be divided into Maxi, Grand Prix and Classic divisions alongside a 12-boat Swan 42 one-design division. Courses will, as always, provide a mix of coastal and windward-leeward racing in addition to an Islands Long Race scheduled for midweek which could take the fleet as far north as the French islands off Corsica.

Rolex Swan Cup 2012 ©Carlo Borlenghi

Rolex Swan Cup 2012 ©Carlo Borlenghi

While the Swan Cup was first held in 1980, this year’s edition marks the 30th anniversary of the enduring collaboration between Rolex, Nautor’s Swan and the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda.

For the duration of both the Maxi and Swan events competition on the water will be accompanied by the usual array of exclusive social events ranging from welcome cocktails and owner’s dinners to crew parties and daily after-race refreshments and rounding off with the final prize giving in the Piazza Azzurra at the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda.

“These two events represent a fitting conclusion to a busy season of YCCS regattas in both Porto Cervo and Virgin Gorda. The Maxi and Swan regattas, organized together with our partner Rolex, consistently attract the world’s top yachts, owners and sailors and we are looking forward to two weeks of competitive sailing and impeccable social events,” commented YCCS Commodore Riccardo Bonadeo.

New Trophies for Winners of inaugural RORC Transatlantic Race

July 04, 2014

This November will see the winners of the Royal Ocean Racing Club‘s inaugural Transatlantic Race receive two magnificent perpetual trophies. Departing from Puerto Calero, Lanzarote, the first yacht to complete the course and cross the finish line, 2,800 miles later in the fantastic Caribbean yacht charter destination – Grenada, will be awarded with an exquisite sterling silver trophy. This will be handed over by the International Maxi Association (IMA).

(left to right) RORC Commodore, Mike Greville & Chief Executive, Eddie Warden Owen with the  magnificent antique 1928 RORC Transatlantic Race Trophy for the Overall Winner in IRC  Credit: RORC/onEdition

(left to right) RORC Commodore, Mike Greville & Chief Executive, Eddie Warden Owen with the magnificent antique 1928 RORC Transatlantic Race Trophy for the Overall Winner in IRC Credit: RORC/onEdition

An equally impressive trophy has been sought for the Overall Winner in IRC by the RORC and John Bowles, a specialist in sporting trophies, certainly came up trumps. The race may be new to the club’s offshore racing calendar, but the magnificent antique sterling silver trophy is far from it.

Handmade in London in 1928 by John Parkes during the heyday of craftsmanship for such trophies, the RORC Transatlantic Race 2014 winner will be privileged to accept the 104 troy-ounce trophy that is beautifully chased with intricate decoration.

The magnificent 1928 antique sterling silver trophy will be presented to the first ever winner of the RORC Transatlantic Race under RORC's IRC rating system. The RORC Transatlantic Race starts on 29th November 2014 from Lanzarote and finishes in Grenada Credit: RORC/onEdition

The magnificent 1928 antique sterling silver trophy will be presented to the first ever winner of the RORC Transatlantic Race under RORC's IRC rating system. The RORC Transatlantic Race starts on 29th November 2014 from Lanzarote and finishes in Grenada Credit: RORC/onEdition

Standing a mighty 26 inches on its new, solid mahogany, plinth and measuring 17 inches from handle to handle, this December the silver records band will be engraved with the name of the first ever winner of the RORC Transatlantic Race under RORC’s IRC rating system. The front cartouche is already hand engraved with the title of the race and the RORC Transatlantic Race logo, with the RORC Seahorse crest embellished on the rear.

As is the ‘norm’ for antique trophies of this quality, any previous engraving has been removed so its original purpose or background is unknown. However one thing is for sure, that competitors taking part in this annual east-west race will be battling it out across the Atlantic with their sights firmly set on winning one of these two magnificent prizes.

Both trophies will be awarded at the Prizegiving ceremony, to be held at Camper & Nicholsons Marina Port Louis, on the Spice Island of Grenada with Grenada Tourism Authority on Saturday 20th December 2014.

Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup 2014, August 31 – September 6

July 03, 2014

Representing the world’s number one rendezvous for Maxi yachts, the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup will return in a little under two months time, running from 31 August – 6 September. The competition is always one of the international yachting calendar’s standout occasions, sponsored by Rolex since 1985. Organized by the International Maxi Association (IMA) and the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda (YCCS), this unmissable event for yacht designers, sailors and Maxi owners alike will be hosted by the fabulous Sardinia yacht charter destination – Porto Cervo.

Superyachts Y3K and HAMILTON during the windward-leeward races in Porto Cervo - Photo by Rolex Carlo Borlenghi

Superyachts Y3K and HAMILTON during the windward-leeward races in Porto Cervo - Photo by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi

One of the competition’s most contested divisions is the Mini Maxi Rolex World Championship, where the quality increases year after year. Sailing yacht Rán 2, Niklas Zennström’s outstanding 72-ft Mini Maxi, has won three of the four championships to date, although 2013’s dramatic victory in the final race was to be her last in the hands of Zennström who launched a new Rán earlier this year. Despite the new boat’s impressive start, Rán’s crew are fully aware that competing on the Costa Smeralda’s myriad of challenging racecourses will provide its sternest test to date.

Luxury yacht Alegre was 2013’s new launch and performed impressively. Expectations are that the crew will be more familiar with boat’s potential and once again she will be among the frontrunners alongside Hap Fauth’s yacht Bella Mente from the United States, winner in 2012. The fleet is likely to be bolstered by the presence of other quality Mini Maxis including George Sakellaris’ yacht Shockwave (USA), Sir Peter Ogden’s new 72-ft luxury yacht Jethou (GBR), the former Stig, Swiss Alexander Schaerer’s yacht Caol Ila R and sailing yacht Robertissima III (ITA), formerly Ran 2.

Mini Maxis at the race start - Photo by Rolex Carlo Borlenghi

Mini Maxis at the race start - Photo by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi

Rivalries are abound throughout the competition. Last year’s Wally competition witnessed the Porto Cervo debut of Sir Lindsay Owen-Jones’s new Wally Cento 100 superyacht Magic Carpet 3 although it was Jean Charles Decaux’s luxury yacht J-One which claimed its first title since 2007. Both crews are expected to return this year. 2013 witnessed the return to the Maddalena archipelago of the J-Class, where restorations compete with replica builds of original 1930s designs, adding both grace and class to the spectacle.

The Maxi class welcomes yachts from 80-100ft, usually the fastest boats on show. Recent participants have included Igor Simčič’s all conquering 100-ft Reichel/Pugh superyacht Esimit Europa 2 as well as Lord Irvine Laidlaw’s 82-ft hybrid yacht Highland Fling. In terms of sheer scale and power, the Supermaxi class, open to yachts over 100-ft, catch many admiring glances. Comprising boats dually designed to cruise and race, Filip Balcaen’s superyacht Nilaya has won the last three editions although it was mega yacht Hetairos’s appearance in 2012 that made the most memorable headlines. At 216-ft (66.7m) she became the largest yacht ever to appear at the event. Proof that the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup is always pushing boundaries, forever evolving.

Rolex Capri Sailing Week 2014 Winners

May 24, 2014

The lovely Italy yacht charter destination – Capri played a host to the Rolex Capri Sailing Week for 10th consecutive year. The event’s programme was planned to comprise six days of competing and, attracted a truly international fleet of 21 yacht from 11 different nations. Despite two days lost due to lack of wind, there was sufficient high quality racing to place three yachts at the top of their respective classes: luxury yacht Robertissima III (GBR) took Mini Maxi Racing, sailing yacht Good Job Guys (ITA) won in Mini Maxi Racing/Cruising and sailing yacht Azzurra (ITA) placed first in TP52. All three were rewarded for their efforts with a Rolex timepiece.

Luxury yacht ROBERTISSIMA III (GBR) at the start of the Volcano Race - Photo by Rolex Carlo Borlenghi

Luxury yacht ROBERTISSIMA III (GBR) at the start of the Volcano Race - Photo by Rolex Carlo Borlenghi

The Rolex Capri Sailing Week is always a special event. The first event in the Rolex’s Mediterranean yachting season, it always comprises different racing formats, and a selection of the most glamorous racing yachts in sport today. All set against the stunning backdrop of the Italian island of Capri.

12 Maxis and Mini Maxis arranging in length range from 18.29 to 30.5 metres, and nine TP52s, were the stars of  the show organised by the International Maxi Association and the Yacht Club Capri. Teams from Austria, Brazil, United Kingdom, France, Hungary, Italy, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and the USA competed for the Caprese glory.

Robertissima III ignites the Volcano Race
The assembled Maxis and Mini Maxis started their week on Monday with the Volcano Race, a 230 nautical-miles offshore course from Capri to Stromboli and back. The fleet found light to moderate wind conditions and Roberto Tomasini Grinover’s JV72 Robertissima III outperformed her opponenets to win out overall. Fastest on the water was Slovenian 100 foot Maxi yacht Esimit Europa 2, which finished the course in 27 hours, 16 minutes and 44 seconds to secure the line honours victory.

Enrico Gorziglia's sailing yacht GOOD JOB GUYS (ITA) at the Rolex Capri Sailing Week - Photo by Rolex Carlo Borlenghi

Enrico Gorziglia's sailing yacht GOOD JOB GUYS (ITA) at the Rolex Capri Sailing Week - Photo by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi

Robertissima III arrived in Capri three hours and a half after than the Slovenian Maxi, and one hour and 12 minutes ahead of her near sistership sailing yacht Jethou (GBR) after an intense duel on the water. According to Robertissima III tactician and Rolex Testimonee, Paul Cayard: “It seemed like we were a little bit faster (than Jethou) in upwind conditions. Maybe we have a little more stability.” A key moment in race occurred at the active volcano, Stromboli, the most southerly mark of the racecourse, as Cayard explained: “Esimit was in front and sailed into a hole behind Stromboli, so we went wide. Jethou tried to cut the corner on us and parked also.” Robertissima used the opportunity to build an all-important lead.

Bothersome breeze

Robertissima III was declared the overall winner of the race on xx, when it became clear her corrected time could not be bettered. At this point, the Maxis changed their mode or set-up for the scheduled three days of coastal racing.

Fate or the wind gods conspired against the best laid plans and both Thursday and Friday were written off due to lack of any breeze. Principal Race Officer Peter Reggio tried his considerable best to come up with a solution. On Thursday Reggio set the fleet off on a coastal course in the waters around Capri, but as the yachts approached the dramatic Faraglioni rock formation the breeze disappeared. On Friday, the fleet left Capri’s Marina Grande in two occasions without success.

Alberto Roemmers' sailing yacht AZZURRA (ITA) on Day 2 - Photo by Rolex Carlo Borlenghi

Alberto Roemmers' sailing yacht AZZURRA (ITA) on Day 2 - Photo by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi

Final day reprieve
As frustration built for all concerned, the situation for the final day was studied intently. The predictions were good, and hopes were high for a final bout of spirited competition across all classes.

In the Mini Maxi class, Giuseppe Puttini’s Swan 65 Shirlaf  from Italy won the coastal race, held over a racecourse of 20 nautical miles, in tricky, shifting wind conditions. Second was British entrant Lupa of London followed by Hungary’s representaive, Wild Joe.

The combination of the Volcano Race and coastal race results gave the overall win in Mini Maxi Racing division to Robertissima III. “Capri is a fantastic place”, said owner Roberto Tomasini Grinover. “I never found such a hospitality like in Capri in no other club in the world. All my crew was really delighted to be here and to be treated to the hospitality of the Yacht Club Capri and Rolex, and of course the result is absolutely positive.”

In the Mini Maxi Racing/Cruising division, Enrico Gorziglia’s Italian entry Good Job Guys  performed best across the too races to secure top spot.

TP52s debut in Caprese waters
Away for the Maxi racing, attention was firmly on the debut of the TP52 class at Rolex Capri Sailing Week. Nine teams from seven different countries took part.

Newcomer, Phoenix, won the first race of the championship and its first-ever race. Eduardo de Souza Ramos owner and helmsman of the Brazilian TP52, was enthralled with his debut: “It was such a fantastic experience. I never thought it would ever be like that. It is an experience I am never going to forget.”

In the end, the TP52 fleet sailed six out of the its 10 races scheduled. Five different teams took bullets to confirm the competitiveness of the class: Phoenix, Quantum Racing (USA), Vesper (USA), Azzurra (ITA) and Rán (SWE). Overall victory went to Alberto Roemmer’s team after a final day were they came close to perfection, scoring a second and a first place.

“It is a great feeling”, Azzurra helmsman Guillermo Parada emphasised. “Capri is a unique place to sail, and is known for light conditions. We made some changes in the mast, the sails, the trimming, we changed some members of the crew to improve the performance in these conditions, and it allowed us to be competitive. I’m happy, because we made a plan and it worked out. We would be delighted to come back here next year.”

Second overall was Jim Swartz’s Vesper, followed by Doug DeVos’ Quantum Racing.

Michelle Galli’s B2 (ITA), winner of the Rolex Middle Sea Race in 2013, suffered through lack of experience inshore. “We are really an offshore team, but this year we decided to be here in Capri and in Porto Cervo with the TP52 fleet,” the Italian owner explained. “This fleet competes at a very high level, and we are still trying to learn how to race with them. A great experience.” Galli will be in Saint-Tropez for the Giraglia Rolex Cup in June, “where we’ll be back to offshore mode, my passion.”

Successful formula
Andrew McIrvine, Secretary General of the International Maxi Association, wa enthusiastic about the event despite the whimsical Caprese breeze: “The owners love it here. Mixing the TP52s and the Maxis worked very well, as there was always something to look at. When the Maxis were away for the Volcano Race, the TP52s were racing here in Capri, and that was good for everybody. I think it is a very good formula.”

Rolex Capri Sailing Week 2014 drew to a close with a prize giving ceremony held at the Yacht Club Capri, where class winners received their trophies and Rolex timepieces.

Next event in the Rolex sailing portfolio is the Giraglia Rolex Cup, which celebrates its 62nd edition from 13-21 June.

2014 ROLEX CAPRI SAILING WEEK WINNERS

Mini Maxi Racing

Robertissima (GBR), Roberto Tomasini

Mini Maxi Racing-Cruising
Good job guys (ITA), Enrico Gorziglia

TP52
Azzura (ITA), Alberto Roemmers