A Sea of Sails in Saint-Tropez (Photo by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi)

A Sea of Sails in Saint-Tropez (Photo by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi)

SANREMO, ITA – SAINT-TROPEZ, FRA – MONTE-CARLO, MON – June 13 – 21, 2014

The 2014 Giraglia Rolex Cup enters its final phase tomorrow, Wednesday, with the start of the 241-nm offshore race. Some 213 yachts are expected to take part – a new record fleet. The mythical course which, in a normal year, takes crews from France to Italy, via the Giraglia rock off the northern tip of Corsica, offers something exceptional this year: a finish in Monte-Carlo. The unique opportunity to combine the finish of this celebrated race with the inauguration of the new Yacht Club de Monaco clubhouse has been embraced by the organizing clubs, race sponsor Rolex and, most significantly, the competitors.

The 62nd Giraglia Rolex Cup fleet ranges in size from 100-feet down to 30-feet. If conditions permit, Esimit Europa 2 – the largest and fastest yacht – will seek to dent its record time of 14 hours, 56 minutes and 16 seconds set in 2012 over a similar distance albeit with a finish in Sanremo just up the coast from Monte-Carlo. The yacht’s owner, Igor Simcic, is a member of the Yacht Club de Monaco so there is particular significance in his yacht’s quest to add a fourth line honours to her victory roll.

RÁN 5 (SWE) close to the shore as she leaves Saint-Tropez RAN 5, Sail n: SWE72, Owner: NIKLAS ZENNSTROM,  (Photo by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi)

RÁN 5 (SWE) close to the shore as she leaves Saint-Tropez
RAN 5, Sail n: SWE72, Owner: NIKLAS ZENNSTROM, (Photo by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi)

Cautious Optimism
Skipper Jochen Schümann understands the added importance of doing well, especially given the presence of a special crewmember onboard for the race: Pierre Casiraghi, younger son of Caroline, Princess of Hannover, and member of the YCM Management Committee. “The Giraglia Rolex Cup is one of the classic races in Europe alongside the Rolex Fastnet and Middle Sea Races,” he explains. “The start and finish are always spectacular. Saint-Tropez is one of the most scenic places in the Med, and this time we have a special finish in Monaco.”

 

Schümann is cautious when discussing prospects for the race record. According to the German Olympian the unsettled weather of the past few days looks set to continue with light airs across the racecourse: “If we get good steady breeze, there’s a chance for the record. Otherwise it will probably be slow.”

Intriguing Contest
Behind the Slovenian Maxi, an intriguing battle is shaping up among four highly competitive 72-ft Racing Mini Maxis. Andres Soriano, owner of Alegre and another member of the Yacht Club de Monaco, is excited by the prospect of finishing in Monte-Carlo. He has tasted success in this race before with a Line Honours victory in 2010 with his previous yacht. Soriano has enjoyed the competition of the Inshore Series over the past three days: “The Mini Maxis are very even, there is not much in it. Some are better in different conditions and a little luck with a wind shift can make the difference in getting one’s nose ahead.” He thinks this bodes well for a tight contest in the offshore race even if the larger yachts are not favoured by the forecast: “Ideally we’d be hoping for more wind at the beginning of the long race to take us down to the rock. The approach there early in the morning is always difficult.”

Another Olympian, this time Frenchman Thierry Peponnet, who has been coaching Niklas Zennström’s Ran 5 crew ahead of the offshore race, has also assessed the challenge this year: “It is special with the finish in Monaco. Normally the leg after the rock to Genoa is very smooth, dominated by light winds. This new course will make things a bit different, as the wind angles will change on the leg from the Giraglia to Monaco. We are waiting for the latest weather information to develop an appropriate strategy, but the team is very motivated; it is a race they want to win.”

Even though a professional yachtsman, Peponnet recognizes the Giraglia Rolex Cup delivers a distinctive flavour: “It is such a mythical race. Similar to the Rolex Sydney Hobart, enthusiastic and passionate amateurs come together and challenge themselves against the most professional of boats like Ran, Alegre etc… It unites sailors from all over the planet, Corinthians or professionals all together on the same starting line.” Peponnet has done the race a number of times and finds it an attractive challenge even if sometimes long. “You have to be patient,” he advises.

Saint-Tropez bids farewell to the 62nd Giraglia Rolex Cup fleet Gulf of Saint Tropez (Photo  by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi)

Saint-Tropez bids farewell to the 62nd Giraglia Rolex Cup fleet Gulf of Saint Tropez (Photo by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi)

Daring to Dream
Patience may be virtue further down the fleet. The current forecasts suggest a hole in the wind over Monaco on Thursday that may favour the smaller yachts if they bring the wind from the Giraglia. Last year’s winner Laurent Camprubi, the owner of French yacht Alizée, was thinking of only a class win in 2013. He ended up taking the overall trophy and the Rolex timepiece. What does he think about his prospects in 2014? “We came last year to win our division, we never imagined winning overall.  We are here again to win our division and funnily we have started thinking that we really could have a chance to win again.  It is a crazy dream but we have analysed the conditions and… yes, … may be.”

Camprubi would not be first to secure back-to-back victories, but he knows he needs favourable conditions, for his crew to work together, and good decision-making. That was achieved last year and: “It was really a perfect race.” If he had to give an advice to a crew doing the race for a first time it would be to never forget you are racing for fun: “You should come because of your passion for sailing and if the results go with you then of course it is magic. If you have given everything and the result is not so good, it should not be a drama.”

In encouraging those who have never done the race, Camprubi is a persuasive salesman summing up the virtues of an event that captures the imagination of all who participate: “For someone who has yet to discover the Giraglia Rolex Cup I would let them know that the race is just magic. The ambience here in Saint-Tropez, the small picturesque town, the huge numbers of competitors, the beautiful yachts, the quality of the crew, the course, the passage at the Giraglia Rock… the great welcome you get at the arrival, it is all quite extraordinary.”

ROBERTISSIMA III (ITA) leaving the Gulf of St Tropez after the start of the offshore race ROBERTISSIMA III, Sail n: GBR7236R, Owner: ROBERTO TOMASINI GRINOVER, Group 0 (IRC >18.05mt)  (Photo by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi)

ROBERTISSIMA III (ITA) leaving the Gulf of St Tropez after the start of the offshore race ROBERTISSIMA III, Sail n: GBR7236R, Owner: ROBERTO TOMASINI GRINOVER, Group 0 (IRC >18.05mt) (Photo by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi)

Spirited Support
According to Carlo Croce, President of the International Sailing Federation, President of the Yacht Club Italiano and, therefore, another passionate advocate for the race the opportunity to finish the 62nd Giraglia Rolex Cup in Monte-Carlo was too great to be missed: “The arrival in Monte-Carlo was decided upon because the Yacht Club de Monaco opens its new base this year and the inauguration of this new clubhouse will be exactly the same day when the most of the boats are crossing the finish line.” Croce emphasizes that the decision was made easy on other grounds: “The participants liked the idea; they are really enthusiastic about joining the opening party on Friday night. Furthermore, the Yacht Club de Monaco is twinned with the Yacht Club Italiano and we are pleased to share this special moment, even more so since Rolex is a partner of both clubs and has been fully supportive of the idea.”

The 62nd Giraglia Rolex Cup race gets underway tomorrow at noon CEST. Rolex has been a partner of the event since 1997.

For more detailed information about the 2014 Giraglia Rolex Cup including results and race tracking please visit the Yacht Club Italiano website.

Big boat start of the offshore race in the Gulf of Saint-Tropez Race Start (Photo by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi)

Big boat start of the offshore race in the Gulf of Saint-Tropez Race Start (Photo by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi) photo id: 30789 Photo By: Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi Get Hi-Res related

 

 

 

LO 1001 ESIMIT EUROPA 2 Jochen Schumann Leads by a slim margin (Photo by Rolex/Kurt Arrigo)

 
A tactically challenging and meteorologically intriguing 33rd Rolex Middle Sea Race is developing. Thirty hours into the contest, all 83 yachts are still racing with the bulk of the fleet negotiating the infamous Strait of Messina. Leading the fleet, and midway between the Strait and Stromboli, are the 30.48m/100-ft Esimit Europa 2 (SLO), and two 21.94m/72-ft Mini Maxis Rán 2 (GBR) and Stig (ITA). Currently sailing at a meagre two knots, the three are separated by less than one mile.

Esimit Europa 2 has not broken away from the pack in the manner she has become accustomed to in previous editions. The first night proved frustrating for Igor Simcic’s crew, caught in a fading breeze that allowed her rivals to close in. On the approach to the Strait this morning, Rán 2 took advantage of a positive current to close the gap on Esimit, and even take the lead. By midday the two boats were only 100m apart exiting the Strait together, destination Stromboli.

“We enjoyed some good breeze through the Strait and are very satisfied with our progress. However, we expect conditions to be very light on the stretch to Stromboli,” reported the crew on Esimit.

Fleet Rounds Strombolicchio (Photo by Rolex/ Kurt Arrigo)

Steve Hayles, navigator on Rán 2, confirmed: “It was a very tricky first night. The smaller boats made quite a big gain at one point. Our long-term strategy was to be furthest offshore. We made a considerable loss initially but managed to stretch away this morning. The race is going to be a bit like an elastic band. It’s about trying to stay on the right side of your competitor and focused on where next breeze is coming from. For us the focus is staying ahead of Stig.” The Italian boat lost ground during the morning but were able to close the gap after exiting the Strait.

Further down the fleet, things are equally intense. Philippe Falle, skipper of the 13.10m/43-ft Trustmarque Quokka (GBR), added: “It was quite a tactical night, pushing and trimming hard. It was an important night to get right. This is one of those races which will see a lot of bungee effects.”

18 yachts have now passed the Strait of Messina. The current advantage on handicap belongs to defending champion – Lee Satariano’s J/122 Artie (MLT). It is a precarious lead as the fleet heads into the second evening and a frustrating search for breeze.

Live race tracking from the 33rd Rolex Middle Sea Race is available here as a record-breaking 83 international entries contest this classic offshore race.

ITA4465 JSTORM MASSIMO COLOSIMO (Photo by Rolex/Kurt Arrigo)

Wally Fleet Start 2011 (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

Wally Fleet Start 2011 (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

A fleet of 34 international Maxi yachts are braced for tomorrow’s start to competitive action at the 2012 Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, held in Porto Cervo, Sardinia. Five days of racing are scheduled for the 23rd edition of this annual contest, open to Maxi yachts upwards of 18.29 metres. Boats representing fourteen different countries make up the entry list from the smallest competitor – the 18.30m Mini Maxi @robas  (FRA) – to the gigantic 66m Supermaxi  Hetairos (CY). A stunning spectacle is always guaranteed when the world’s most technologically impressive Maxis lock horns in the challenging and scenic racecourses offered by the Costa Smeralda and the Maddalena Archipelago.

Ever since its inception in 1980, the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup has represented a rare for opportunity for Maxi yachts to engage exclusively in direct competition. It has also been synonymous with the latest developments in yacht design and technology. 2012 is no exception as three eagerly-anticipated new launches prepare to make their bow: Charles Dunstone’s 30.47m Wally Hamilton(GBR) and two new entries in the intriguing Mini Maxi Rolex World Championship: Hap Fauth’s 21.94m Bella Mente (USA) and the similarly sized Stig (ITA), owned by Alessandro Rombelli.
Edoardo Recchi, Sporting Director of event organizer the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda (YCCS), believes a vintage edition is in store, revealing: “We are very happy to have a fleet of 34 boats with a number sailing here for the first time. The Mini Maxi Rolex World Championship, in particular, will be very competitive because all the Mini Maxis are, from a certain point of view, as good as new, with many having changed keels or rigs.” As Recchi confirms, the week will be a test of each crew’s resolve and endurance: “For the Maxis and Supermaxis five coastal races are planned and for the Mini Maxis and Wallys there will be three coastal races and four windward/leeward races.” Tomorrow, coastal races are scheduled for the event’s five classes (Maxi Racing, Maxi Racing/Cruising, Mini Maxi, Supermaxi and Wally).
A number of this season’s most successful boats are in attendance. Sir Peter Ogden’s 18.90m Mini Maxi Jethou (GBR) triumphed in May’s Rolex Volcano Race; Filip Balcaen’s 34.13m Nilaya (GBR) won line honours at that same event and returns to Porto Cervo to defend her Supermaxi class title. Igor Simcic’s 30.48m Esimit Europa 2 (SLO) has enjoyed a stellar year, smashing the race record at the recent Giraglia Rolex Cup before arriving in Sardinia in style, setting a new fastest time between Monte Carlo and Porto Cervo.

The third running of the Mini Maxi Rolex World Championship is likely to be one of the week’s most eye-catching contests. The previous two editions have been claimed by the 21.91m Rán 2 (GBR). Niklas Zennström’s fully professional crew start off as favourites, but the competition will be determined and races decided by the merest fractions. Strength in depth across the Championship is provided by the revamped Jethou, George Sakellaris’ 21.80m Shockwave (USA), Stig and the 21.01m Caol Ila R (USA), the former Alegre – second place finishers in 2010 and 2011 – as Alex Schärer and his crew make the transition from their racer/cruiser of the same name.

Ran 2  (Photo by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi)

Ran 2 (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

Brand-new Bella Mente (USA), counting on the expertise of 2006 ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Mike Sanderson, concedes nothing to Rán 2 in terms of length although the crew have the challenge of tackling the competition for the first time. “We’re really excited,” remarks Sanderson. “The Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup is one of the great events on the calendar, where the fascination is seeing all of the hardware together – a collection of amazing boats in terms of power and sail.” Sanderson is expecting a baptism of fire: “In the Mini Maxi class, the level is very high. The other guys currently have a bit more refinement and finesse including Rán who are a very polished act with a very consistent crew.”

Navigators are facing a difficult time predicting what the week’s weather will provide: “The forecast is really tricky,” confirms Sanderson. “There is a low settling off to the west of Sardinia. Some forecasts are saying 50 knots and others five! So we are in for a pretty changeable week.”

The Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup is organized by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda and the International Maxi Association, prestigious organizations with close ties to Rolex. A first-class social programme is in store, including the Rolex Crew Party and the final Prize-Giving Ceremony, where the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cups and Rolex timepieces will be presented to the winners.

EVENT PROGRAMME

Sunday, 2 September
Inspections, registration and briefing
Welcome Reception

Monday, 3 September
Race(s)

Tuesday, 4 September
Race(s)

Wednesday, 5 September
Race(s)

Thursday, 6 September
Lay day or resail

Friday, 7 September
Race (s)
Rolex Crew Party

Saturday, 8 September
Race(s)
Final Prize-Giving

 

SHOCKWAVE (USA) AND RÁN (GBR), APPROACH THE LIGHTHOUSE AT MONACI (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

SHOCKWAVE (USA) AND RÁN (GBR), APPROACH THE LIGHTHOUSE AT MONACI (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

 

NEAR MISS (SUI) in a challenging downwind leg (Photo by Rolex / Kurt Arrigo)

NEAR MISS (SUI) in a challenging downwind leg (Photo by Rolex / Kurt Arrigo)

 

Franck Nöel’s TP52 Near Miss (SUI) has been confirmed as the overall winner of the 2012 Giraglia Rolex Cup.

A big boat race was predicted ahead of the historic 60th edition of the race from Saint-Tropez to Sanremo. And so it proved. Yesterday morning, the 100-foot Maxi Esimit Europa 2 (SLO) smashed the four-year old race record by over three hours, completing the circa 242-nautical mile course in 14 hours, 56 minutes and 16 seconds. Near Miss was the fourth fastest boat on the water, finishing just 31 minutes outside of the previous race record. As most of the Maxi fleet (yachts measuring over 60-feet) made short work of the course, the drop in conditions throughout yesterday ensured that the smaller boats still at sea could not surpass the corrected time set by Nöel’s predominantly French crew.

BRONENOSEC  challenges the waves (Photo by Kurt Arrigo)

BRONENOSEC challenges the waves (Photo by Kurt Arrigo)

Prevailing from a fleet of 170 international yachts, victory capped a successful week for Near Miss following her impressive performance during the three days of inshore racing in Saint-Tropez. Nöel cut an ecstatic figure: “It was an extraordinary race and we nearly beat Alfa Romeo’s record with a 52-foot boat. It was at the very limits of comfort, we got very wet! Near Miss is not a boat made for offshore racing, more for inshore, but we are very happy to have done it.” Nöel has form at the Giraglia Rolex Cup having also claimed the combined inshore and offshore race prize in 2010.

Near Miss can count on the experience of America’s Cup yachtsman Karol Jablonski. “It was a very exciting race – the conditions were very extreme,” confirmed the Polish sailor, a recent addition to the team. “We anticipated the changing winds and the crew did an excellent job in changing sails so we didn’t waste time. The boat always went at the maximum speed possible according to the conditions.” As helmsman, Jablonski had a unique view of the race. “It was very wet as I was the guy sitting furthest forward – it was like a cold water Jacuzzi or whirlpool!” Whilst Near Miss celebrates, the elements proved demanding for much of the fleet with around fifty crews forced to retire from the race.

Near Miss will be presented with the Rolex Challenge Trophy and a Rolex timepiece during tomorrow’s prizegiving at the Yacht Club Sanremo, the final act of the 2012 Giraglia Rolex Cup.

The Giraglia Rolex Cup is organized by the Yacht Club Italiano, in conjunction with the Société Nautique de Saint-Tropez and the Yacht Club de France, prestigious organisations with well-established ties to Rolex.

 

ESIMIT EUROPA 2 rounding Stromboli by Kurt Arrigo

ESIMIT EUROPA 2 rounding Stromboli (Photo by Rolex / Kurt Arrigo)

Overnight, the 2011 Rolex Middle Sea Race fleet parked up off the coast of Sicily near Catania – in the shadows of Mount Etna.  So far, Esimit Europa 2 (SLO) and Rán (GBR) were the lone boats to have slipped through the Messina Strait, Esimit around 0330 Sunday morning, followed by Rán at 0830. Esimit, which rounded Stromboli four hours later, has since slowed down, and leads Rán by about 50 miles.

The bulk of the fleet is nearing the Strait, including the 90-foot maxi, Med Spirit (FRA) which is reporting 16 knots of boat speed, no doubt in a favourable current. The Mills 68, Alegre (GBR) is further east, hugging the Italian mainland coast. Current Class 2 leaders on the water are Dralion (MLT) and Cantankerous (ITA), while front of Class 3 are the Grand Soleil 50, One (ITA) and the Xp44Vikesha II (MLT) co-skippered by Oleg Evdokimenko and local Maltese sailor Timmy Camilleri. This is Camilleri’s 17th Rolex Middle Sea Race, which he has won overall three times. Aziza (MLT), Pita Maha (ITA), Aurora (ITA), Three Sisters (CZE) are close together leading Class 4, approximately 40 nautical miles south of Messina.

Atame (GBR), is a 42-footer being sailed double-handed for the second year in a row by Beppe Bisotto and Ian Knight. The duo on the Fast 42 chose a course through the night just off the Sicilian coast. Bisotto from Venice, Italy, emailed a report, “What a night! Tacking against other boats, alone helming! This afternoon we expected the gusts and did not hoist the large spinnaker; nonetheless we changed eight times the sails and exploded one spinnaker. Our race is against all the fleet and we do not hesitate to keep our performance up.”

He may have been rethinking his choice to sail shorthanded, as he added, “My kid Attilio, nine years old, called me tonight asking ‘what are we doing just two on board?’ It is like playing soccer against a team of eleven, with just one goalkeeper and one midfielder!”

Class 2 Start (Photo by Rolex / Kurt Arrigo)

Nearby Beppe Fornich, skipper of the Dufour 34, Nigno (ITA) called in to verify a slow night with the breeze at only four to five knots. But Nigno was within sight of the formidable Mount Etna and the crew was enjoying their tea and brioche, and looking forward to the next meal prepared by their onboard  ‘chef’ Mario Cudio.

The crew of the J/133, Oiltanking Juno (MLT), is clearly enjoying itself despite one or two issues yesterday, reporting in with a recap the early adventures, “Once out of the harbour, some local storm clouds brought with them squalls. We saw some boats tear their code zeros and spinnakers. On Juno, we were not free of problems either. Even though we made the correct sail calls at the right times, at one point we lost both our spinnaker sheets and tack lines, giving us major problems with one of our spinnakers. Due to great teamwork, we managed to make a good recovery and now find ourselves sailing up the east coast of Sicily towards the infamous straights of Messina.”

A further report will be issued this afternoon, by which time the Royal Malta Yacht Club expects many more of the fleet to have passed through the notorious Messina Strait.

Wild Joe by Kurt Arrigo

Wild Joe (Photo by Rolex / Kurt Arrigo)

Part of the Aeolian island chain, Stromboli is located in the Tyrrhenian Sea, off the north coast of Sicily. The active volcano is approximately 900 m (3,000 ft) high, and its most recent eruption was in August 2009. There are two villages on the island with several hundred inhabitants.

Stromboli gained acclaim in1950 when Italian director, Roberto Rossellini set the classic movie “Stromboli” starring Ingrid Bergman, on the island. The island, and nearby Strombolicchio, are marks of the Rolex Middle Sea Race course, left to port by the race fleet.

70 yachts started the 32nd Rolex Middle Sea Race on Saturday, 22 October.

In 2007, George David’s Rambler (USA) established the current Course Record of 47 hours, 55 minutes, 3 seconds. 
In order to beat this record the first boat must finish by approximately 11.30 CEST Monday, 24 October.

The final prize giving is at 12.00CEST on Saturday, 29 October at the Mediterranean Conference Centre in Valletta.

ALEGRE by Kurt Arrigo

ALEGRE (Photo by Rolex / Kurt Arrigo)

OPS 5 ITA 15555  Massimo Violati ( Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi )

Come early September and as the height of the Mediterranean summer season passes with the grace of a fading sunset, the eyes of the sailing world will be focused firmly on one stand-out attraction: the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup. This annual meeting of the bold and the beautiful, elegance and finesse, onshore refinement and offshore adventure, takes place in Porto Cervo, Sardinia.

Event organisers the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda (YCCS) are expecting a record presence for the 22nd edition, which takes place from 5-10 September. It represents a trend. Last year’s competition welcomed 49 of the world’s most state-of-the-art yachts. Forty-two yachts from 12 countries and territories have already committed to taking part this time around. Whilst the event’s appeal has always been unquestioned, the growth in popularity of the Mini Maxi yacht and the subsequent birth of the competition within a competition, the Mini Maxi Rolex World Championship (open to yachts from 18.29-24.08 metres), have led to the mushrooming of the regatta. This year promises to be an eye-catching feast.

Irish whispers
Close attention will be paid to the second running of the Mini Maxi Rolex Worlds. Whilst the final list of entries is still to be confirmed, several impressive campaigners will be attacking the waters of the Costa Smeralda. Niklas Zennström’s Rán 2 (GBR) and Andres Soriano’s Alegre (GBR) finished first and second last year. Intriguingly, 2010’s third placed yacht is also returning albeit under new ownership. The 72-ft Reichel Pugh Shockwave (USA) has changed hands from serial regatta winner Neville Crichton to George Sakellaris, who previously campaigned the CM60 Captivity. Shockwave has been preparing for the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup in Palma.

The crew of Whisper (IRL) have long been captivated by the lure of Porto Cervo. Michael Cotter’s 78-footer has become a fixture at the event and won the Racer/Cruiser division in 2009. The experienced crew have been focused on the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup for quite a while, as captain Mark Dicker explains: “Whisper’s preparations for the Maxis started in January and this will be our sixth participation. We have a good set up and hope to be on top of our game in Porto Cervo. Over the past winter the boat undertook a large refit with the upgrade of many of its racing systems. We then did a ‘shake down’ regatta at Easter in Palma so we feel confident the boat will be in great shape for the Maxis. Currently Whisper is completing a cruising period around Greece before heading back to prepare for the event and two days training.”

The Irish crew, competing in the Mini Maxi Rolex Worlds, have always performed impressively on the Emerald Coast. Dicker reveals the key to yacht’s success: “The Whisper team have been campaigning the boat for six years with a core crew mostly of Irish sailors, who are happy to keep on coming back. The owner is very competitive, but a laid back approach seems to help the boat stay in good form and even the small handful of professional sailors onboard relish a week’s sailing on Whisper. Certainly the secret to the event is consistency, the conditions around Porto Cervo are very challenging and any mistakes can quickly end a regatta.”

For the crew of Whisper, like many others, the appeal of the event is obvious. “Within the Med there is certainly no other regatta like the Maxis,” closes Dicker, “from the picturesque scenery to the high level of competition returning year after year. Racing up Bomb Alley and round the islands is certainly like no other race course we embark on.” Following on from the Maxis, the Whisper crew will take part at another Rolex supported event – Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez.

The rest of the best
Completing the global gathering of competing nations are the Danish crew onboard the 61-ft Vertical Smile, the 78-ft All Smoke (GBR), owned by the German businessman Günter Herz, the 60-ft Arobas (FRA) and Caol Ila (USA), fresh from an impressive performance at the Giraglia Rolex Cup. Sir Peter Ogden’s 60-ft Jethou (GBR) will also be in attendance, having campaigned at both the 2009 and 2010 Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup.

Italian presence is guaranteed with the involvement of six yachts. Alessandro Rombelli’s Baltic-65 Stig finished second behind Aegir in the Racer/Cruiser division last year. She will face stiff competition from Riccardo de Michele’s H20 and Adriano Calvini’s 61-ft Itacentodue, both race day winners in 2010. Completing the elenco of Italian entrants are the 60-ft Aleph-Aniene 1° Classe, the 61-ft Tyke and Enrico Gorziglia’s Good Job Guys.

Homeward bound
Outside of the Mini Maxi Rolex Worlds, racing will be equally intense in the prestigious and long-established Maxi (24.09-30.5m yachts), Supermaxi (those in excess of 30.5m) and Wally competitions.

The Swan-90 DSK Pioneer Investments (ITA) will compete in the Maxi category and has enjoyed a demanding season in the Mediterranean, taking part in the inaugural Rolex Volcano Race in addition to the Giraglia Rolex Cup, where she was the fifth boat to finish on elapsed time. The yacht has miles in her sails. Fortunately, the Maxis require less travelling for the crew. Owner Danilo Salsi is a member of the YCCS and Porto Cervo happens to be DSK’s crew base. “We like the race area and feel we have good local knowledge,” explains team manager Andrea Casale, “the big challenge for us is to take advantage of this.”

DSK Pioneer Investments triumphed in Porto Cervo at the Rolex Swan Cup in 2010, although the crew realise that repeating their success on the Costa Smeralda in the Maxi division will be a tough challenge. “The Swan Cup was a completely different scenario,” continues Casale, “as we were not competing against the likes of Esimit Europa 2. The yachts in our division this time around will be faster than us on the water so they will be more difficult to beat. We have to be very smart and wise with the tools that we have at our disposal.”

After the gruelling ocean challenges earlier in the season, Casale and the crew are focused on a different type of racing at the Maxis: “We are pleased with the two offshore races, but the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup is going to be a very different game. ‘Day racing’ requires more manoeuvring and decision-making in a short space of time. We are adding some new crew members to our standard roster to save time when changing sails. In addition we are ‘tuning’ our rating certificate. Hopefully it will all help.”

Meanwhile, the Wally division is already shaping up to maintain its recent trend of intense battle. Claus-Peter Offen’s Y3K (GER) and Sir Lindsay Owen Jones’ Magic Carpet (GBR) have winning experience in Porto Cervo although the divisional crown is sure to be contested to the very last nautical mile of the final race. The impressive fleet comprises100-footers Dark Shadow (MON) and Kenora (GBR) as well as slightly more slender but equally impressive campaigners such as Jean Charles Decaux’s J One (GBR), winners in 2007, and Thomas Bscher’s Open Season (ESP).

Next month’s preview press release will provide full details on this year’s list of competing yachts.

RAN GBR 7236R ( Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi )

On The Agenda
Racing commences on Tuesday 6 September and concludes on Saturday 10 September. Yacht Club Costa Smeralda, along with title sponsor Rolex, will provide a lavish array of first class social events including Saturday’s final Prize Giving Ceremony, where the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cups and Rolex timepieces will be awarded.