In the course of the traditional season-closer, almost 90 grand old ladies of the sea from more than 20 nations did battle between the west coast of the Golfe de La Napoule and Îles de Lérins, in variable winds of between 10 and 20 knots and over both coastal and triangle courses. At the end of the five days of racing, the prizes for the event were presented as were, of course, the much-sought after trophies for the overall winners of the Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge 2013 Mediterranean Circuit which comprised stages at Antibes, Argentario, Naples, Mahon and Cannes. The winners in the three classes were superyacht Cambria (Big Boats), sailing yacht Leonore (Vintage) and Il Moro di Venezia (Classics).
This was the second victory in the Big Boat category for luxury yacht Cambria, built in 1928 and the only International 23-metre Class still afloat: she also won the same trophy in 2010. This wood-built Bermudan cutter stretches 40 metres if her bowsprit is included, and was designed and launched at the famous William Fife yard at Fairlie in Scotland. Cambria, her Australian captain Chris Barkham and her 22-strong crew are assiduous competitors on the Panerai Circuit.
In fact, over the last nine years, they have taken part in no less than 42 races and taken line honours in their category an impressive 38 times. A glorious present for a yacht that in the past has sailed from Turkey to the Canaries, from the Caribbean to New Zealand and Australia where she underwent a massive restoration process that allowed her to return to winning form.
The season trophy in the Vintage category went for the second consecutive time to the 1925 15-metre Leonore, a Marconi sloop belonging to the Q-Class, a sleek, fast, narrow type of yacht designed to the Universal Rule which was developed in 1904 by the great American designer Nathanael Herreshoff. Leonore was built at the Anker & Jensen yard to a design by Johan Anker and has been crewed by a group of former America’s Cup sailors, including the hugely successful helmsman Mauro Pelaschier, for the past number of years.
Their recent victory at Cannes brings to four the number of season trophies won in the Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge by the crew. On her second consecutive year competing on the Panerai Circuit, Il Moro di Venezia achieved her objective of winning the prestigious season title in the Classic category. The 20-metre Bermudan sloop was penned in 1975 by Argentinean designer German Frers and was the first Italian IOR Maxi Yacht. The yachts that followed in her wake and shared her name also made Italian yachting history competing in the America’s Cup.
Built from laminated wood, Il Moro di Venezia was commissioned by leading Italian chemical industrialist Raul Gardini. Today she is owned by Massimiliano Ferruzzi, son of Arturo, who came to Cannes to celebrate her victory. The latter also owns the 1931 31-metre sailing yacht Puritan, one of the most beautiful American schooners still afloat.
Aside from the season trophies, Cannes also saw the presentation of the prizes for the winners of the Régates Royales and, most particularly, the Officine Panerai watches for the victors in the Big Boats, Vintage, Classic and Spirit Of Tradition categories. The winners were the 1903 superyacht Moonbeam III in the Big Boats, the 1916 Chinook in the Vintage, the 1952 Bermudan cutter Ea in the Classic and the 2012 Catleya in the Spirit of Tradition. The latter is a One Design belonging to the new Dilong class and won the same group last year at Cannes also.
Other prizes went to Skylark of 1937 in the Vintage Marconi Over 15 Metres, and to Sirius, a New York 32, also from 1937, which dominated the Vintage Marconi Under 15 Metres. There was also a very moving moment during the prize-giving ceremony when a tribute was paid to the memory of the former Yacht Club de Cannes President Jean-Claude Montesinos who passed away recently.
In addition to the classic fleet that gathered at Cannes, there were also 36 Dragons, a racing one design first launched in Norway in 1929. After nine races, final victory went to English skipper Gavia Wilkinson Cox and Jerboa. In the Requin class, another one design penned in Finland in 1931, the winner was the French boat Slim, while Marsh Harrier triumphed in the the Broad One Design class of elegant gaff sloops designed in England over a century ago.
The many world class sailors participating included French champion Florence Arthaud, while English designer Rob Humphreys was aboard the new super classic yacht Tempus Fugit, and German Frers brought his 1935 boat Sunny all the way from South America to Europe for these races.
Thanks to the sheer number and quality of the yachts taking part, from superyacht Mariquita to Mariska yacht and the majestic gaff schooners superyacht Altair (1931), charter yacht Elena of London and charter yacht Eleonora, the annual Cannes event confirmed its status as the leading and best-attended classic yacht regatta in the Mediterranean. In fact, both owners and crews alike already have pencilled it in their diaries for 2014, the year the Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge celebrates its 10th anniversary.