From September 24th and 28th, around 90 yachts will engage in the course of the 35th Régates Royales de Cannes, the final round of the Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge 2013. Following the Antibes, Porto Santo Stefano, Naples and Mahon events, the renowned Cote d’Azur city stage brings the presentation of the much-sought-after trophies in the Vintage, Classics and Big Boat categories. The winning vessels will go down in the annals of the Mediterranean Circuit of the international competition for classic and vintage yachts sponsored by Officine Panerai for the ninth consecutive year.
The fleet – the oldest member of which was launched in 1896 – hails from more than 10 different nations and represents over a century of yachting history, spanning the spectrum from the sport’s earliest days to the present. The hull lines and rigs of the yachts competing are the work of the finest naval architects of all time, including America‘s Olin Stephens and Nathanael G. Herreshoff, Fife of Fairlie in Scotland, Camper & Nicholson of England and Italy‘s Cesare Sangermani and Carlo Sciarrelli. Most are also built from hard woods of the likes of teak and mahogany.
Each of the participating yachts has her own story to tell. Many have sailed the world’s seas and participated in historic regattas of the likes of the America’s Cup or completed long cruises across Mediterranean, Northern Europe or the world’s oceans. In fact, White Dolphin, winner of the Panerai Transat Classique 2012, and The Blue Peter, a 1930 Bermudan cutter and Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge regular since the event’s inception, have both recently returned to the Mediterranean from the Atlantic. White Dolphin’s owner will presenting the Panerai Transat Classique 2012 trophy he won just a few months ago at Barbados, at the Officine Panerai stand where we will also be welcoming owners, crews and journalists from all over the world each day. Already inscribed with the names of the winners of the two previous editions, the Cup will also be presented to the winner of the next Panerai Transat Classique, scheduled for winter 2015. Plenty of spectacular racing is guaranteed too by the presence of yachts varying in size between 7.62 metres (the little gaff sloop Wianno) and 50 metres (the majestic charter schooner Elena, built recently in Spain to original plans from 1911). Other larger craft competing include the 50-metre gaff schooner – charter yacht Eleonora, the 1931 S/Y Altair and the 1930 Shamrock V yacht, the fifth and final America’s Cup challenger fielded by legendary English tea magnate Sir Thomas Lipton, and also the sole surviving wood-built J-Class. Previous winners of the Panerai Classic Yacht Challenge Cambria (1928), Emeraude (1975), Leonore (1925) and Naïf (1973) also make a welcome return to Cannes.
The 20-metre 1916 Nathanael G. Herreshoff-designed Bermudan sloop Chinook (ex-Pauline and Banshee) is expected to provide some exhilarating action on the water too, as the New York 40 only emerged from a complete restoration in Tunisia a few months ago. We are also marking two important milestones at Cannes: the French gaff cutter Nin celebrates the 100th anniversary of her launch, while Outlaw (1963) celebrates her first half century on the water. The 15 or so Spirit of Traditions attending include RùM, the 13-metre wooden gaff sloop strip-plank-built by the Vels of Medemblik shipyard. The D&D One Design takes her inspiration from the hull lines of the legendary Fife of Fairlie yachts.
Needless to say, the lovely Eilean, the 1936 wood-built two master Fife rescued in the Caribbean and loving restored by the Officine Panerai, will be attending the final round of the Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge 2013 too. Eilean is much more to us than a mere brand ambassador: she also hosts the “Captain for a Day” initiative organised in collaboration with various not-for-profit associations. At Cannes, our partner for the second consecutive year for this event is the Monte Carlo-based Les Enfants de Frankie charity which helps disadvantaged young people skipper a vintage yacht for a day.
A string of dockside events also flanks the racing. These include daily cocktail parties at the Panerai Lounge and several outdoor concerts. Painting and photography stands in front of the area where the yachts are moored will also be open to visitors.
Joining the fleet at Cannes also are 40 9-metre Dragons. The former Olympic class was originally designed in 1929 by Norwegian Johan Anker. Thousands have been built in the intervening decades and dozens of Dragon regattas are organised all over the world each year.