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.
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.
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.