Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup (Photo by Carlo Borlenghi)

A record-sized fleet of the world’s largest performance yachts is readying itself in Porto Cervo, Sardinia for next week’s Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup. Organised by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda and the International Maxi Association (IMA) with Rolex as title sponsor, this year’s event takes place over 4th-10th September and has 52 entries. Of these, 25 belong to members of the IMA, the body which since 1979 has been guiding and structuring maxi yacht racing globally, in collaboration with the world’s leading yacht clubs.

In terms of length, the fleet spans the giant 49.7m Ohana to entries at the shorter end of the IMA’s permitted size range – 60 footers such as Gérard Logel’s Swan 601 @robas and the Wally 60 Wallyño.

The biggest class at the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup will once again be the Wallys (an associated class within the IMA), which features 13 examples of the modernist high performance luxury yachts. Leading the charge off the Costa Smeralda will be the two Wallycentos, Sir Lindsay Owen Jones’ Magic Carpet Cubed and the latest example launched last October, David Leuschen’s Galateia, plus the elongated version, (now 32.7m) Open Season of International Maxi Association President, Thomas Bscher.


Photo: ROLEX / Carlo Borlenghi

The Supermaxi class has a formidable line-up including Irvine Laidlaw’s new Swan 115 Highland Fling 15, plus two Baltic Yachts-built high performance carbon fibre one-offs: the Nauta 115 Nikata and the Javier Jaudenes-designed Win Win – both making their Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup debuts. This year sees the return of Sir Peter Harrison’s Farr 115 ketch, Sojana, following a lengthy refit.

The Js are back this year. Lionheart and Velsheda will match race their way around the race track.

The Maxi class (79-100ft) will see two high profile yachts making their Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup debuts. Best known for her offshore program, Mike Slade’s Farr 100 Leopard 3 has travelled to the four corners of the earth to compete in races such as the Rolex Sydney Hobart, the RORC Caribbean 600 and the Fastnet Race, in which she has twice scored line honours victories.

Despite only being two years old, George David’s Juan Kouyoumdjian-designed Rambler 88, also has notched up thousands of sea miles. This year alone she has won the IMA’s annual Volcano Race (from Gaeta, Italy, south around the volcanic Aeolian Islands off northeast Sicily) and last week claimed line honours in the Palermo-Montecarlo race, the fourth and final event of the IMA’s inaugural Mediterranean Maxi Offshore Challenge.

The Maxi class also includes four entries from Southern Wind Shipyard, including the Farr-designed 100ft Blues and Michael Cotter’s Windfall. There are two SWS 82s: Massimilano Florio’s Grande Orazio was winner of the IMA’s Volcano Race in 2015, while Ammonite is brand new, campaigned by leading Australian skipper Marcus Blackmore.

Rolex Maxi 72 World Championship

As ever a major feature of the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup is the Rolex Maxi 72 World Championship. This year six examples of the ultra competitive, owner-driven, grand prix racers will be lining up, their challenge being to dislodge Hap Fauth’s dominant Judel Vrolijk design, Bella Mente. The reigning Rolex Maxi 72 World Champion  goes into this year’s Worlds straight from victories at Copa del Rey MAPFRE and the inaugural Maxi 72 North American Championship held in Newport, RI in June.

“This is our favourite regatta,” commented Fauth, who is President of the Maxi 72 Class, which is affiliated to the IMA. “There will be six 72 footers and competition will be fierce. It is always challenging conditions both for the around the buoys and the coastal race. It is normally all you want.”

As to Bella Mente being favourite for a third World title, Fauth added: “We have the oldest boat and I am the oldest helmsman, but we have got a very good team. Our execution over the course of a regatta has been good and if there is one reason why we might have a small advantage it is because of that. But it is a very small advantage: The margin of victory in this fleet is two or three seconds – the boats are very close.”


Photo: ROLEX / Carlo Borlenghi

 

The Mini Maxi class (60-79ft) also has a strong line-up. Roberto Lacorte’s Mark Mills 68 Supernikka returns to defend her title, while she will be up against another Mills 68, the more thoroughbred racer, Prospector, which as Alegre and then Caol Ila R was one of the most competitive boats in what is now the Maxi 72 class. Also to be watched will be American Bryon Ehrhart’s Reichel Pugh 63, Lucky. Winner of last year’s Transatlantic Race, Lucky in her previous life was Loki, winner of the 2011 Rolex Sydney Hobart.

In 2015 the Mini Maxi Racer-Cruiser class had one of the tightest finishes and the top four boats return this year, including winner, Riccardo de Michele’s Vallicelli 80 H2O, which finished on equal points with Giuseppe Puttini’s Swan 65 Shirlaf (which this year will face stiff competition from new IMA member Marietta Strasoldo’s Swan 651 Lunz Am Meer.)

Andrew McIrvine, Secretary General of the IMA commented: “It will be an exciting year with a number of new boats competing, especially in the SuperMaxi division where a new generation of more race-oriented boats are appearing. The challenge of manoeuvring these huge craft around the tight courses around the islands of the Maddalena makes for a great spectacle and keeps so many sailors coming back year after year.”

Racing will take place over a mixture of windward-leeward and coastal courses. As usual there will be a magnificent social programme including the annual International Maxi Association Dinner and parties sponsored by Rolex and Audi.

Entry List

Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup 2016 Tracking

 

#sail #race #racing

 

 

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Inoui (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

Bella Mente, Open Season, H20, Supernikka, Windfall and Inoui division winners
Porto Cervo, 12 September 2015. Eighteen knots of scirocco wind and a rip-roaring race around the islands on the final day of the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup & Rolex Maxi 72 World Championship provided the perfect end to a superlative week of competition in Porto Cervo. The 26th edition of the event, which attracted a fleet of 40 yachts ranging from 18 to 66 metres in length, was organized by Yacht Club Costa Smeralda together with title sponsor Rolex and the International Maxi Association.

Hap Fauth's Bella Mente (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

Hap Fauth’s Bella Mente (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

Hap Fauth’s Bella Mente, with a bullet and a third place in today’s two windward-leeward races, was crowned Rolex Maxi 72 World Champion 2015. The American team which boasts Terry Hutchinson on tactics managed to whisk victory from the grasp of Roberto Tomasini Grinover with his Robertissima III by just one point. Dieter Schön’s Momo claimed third place in her debut on the waters of the Costa Smeralda.

 

Maxi 72's at start (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

Maxi 72’s at start (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

“It was just fantastic,” enthused a delighted Hap Fauth, “The level of competition was so high and everyone had fun. We had a great time and the organization and hospitality was excellent.”
At the conclusion of a coastal course of approximately 30 nautical miles Marco Vogele’s 33-metre Inoui was able to celebrate her victory over Viriella and Hetairos respectively in the Supermaxi division. Newly elected IMA President Thomas Bscher was also celebrating in the Wally division as his Open Season rounded off a week of near-perfect results with a second place in today’s race to claimed overall victory in the Wally division. After a fierce battle for second place throughout the week, Magic Carpet Cubed, owned by Sir Lindsay Owen Jones, took the silver prize with J One in third place on equal points.

 

Windfall (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

Windfall (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

The record-breaking 100-foot Comanche, owned by Jim Clark and Kristy Hinze-Clark, gave spectacular performances throughout the week and word is she will be joined by several more pure racing machines for the next edition of the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup.

(Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

(Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

In the Maxi division, which together with the Mini Maxis completed a slightly shorter coastal course, The Southern Wind yacht Windfall, owned by Michael Cotter claimed the Rolex prize and timepiece. Following an event-long leadership battle, Masimiliano Florio’s Grande Orazio Pioneer Investments had to settle for second place, just one point behind. The Swan 77 Tugela rounded off the podium finishers.
Thanks to a victory in today’s race Riccardo di Michele’s H2O managed to beat Shirlaf on countback as both yachts finished with the same score. Third place in the Mini Maxi RC/SOT division went to Wallyño.

The Mini Maxi Racing Division saw Roberto Lacorte’s 2015-launched Supernikka perform consistently well throughout the week to take first place overall ahead of Britain’s Spectre and Maximilian Klink’s Caro.
“It may seem redundant to say that this was a wonderful event – the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup is always a highlight of our sporting calendar – however this 26th edition of the regatta was truly exceptional.” Commented YCCS Commodore Riccardo Bonadeo “The fleet, the owners and the crews were all of an incredibly high standard and mother nature stepped in to provide almost perfect conditions.”

WALLY 77 J ONE, WALLY 94 GALMA AND 100FT COMANCHE (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

WALLY 77 J ONE, WALLY 94 GALMA AND 100FT COMANCHE (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

Looking forward to the next Maxi event Bonadeo continued “The conclusion of a perfect event seems the perfect time to invite you all, if you haven’t already done so, to enrol for the very first edition of the Maxi Yacht Rolex Caribbean Cup taking place in April 2016 at our Caribbean home in Virgin Gorda where we are lucky enough to have another beautiful regatta course and constant trade winds.”
The YCCS calendar in the Mediterranean continues with the Sailing Champions League final which will see teams from across Europe and beyond competing on J70 boats from 18th to 20th September.

See all the results HERE

Wallys and Comanche (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

Wallys and Comanche (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

Dockside ambiance in Porto Cervo (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

Dockside ambiance in Porto Cervo (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

With 40 yachts gathered in Porto Cervo, the 2015 edition of the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup has attracted one of its largest and highest calibre entries in the event’s 35-year history. When Rolex first joined forces with the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda (YCCS) and the International Maxi Association (IMA) to sponsor the event for the first time in 1985, a 60ft yacht was considered to be a big beast. Fast-forward 30 years however, and the Swan 601 @Robas (FRA) is now the smallest in this impressive international line-up, while the 219ft Hetairos (CAY) is by far the largest.

Dockside Ambiance (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

Dockside Ambiance (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

Much of the fleet has been out training on the azure waters of the Costa Smeralda, enjoying the stunning scenery of Northern Sardinia’s wild and beautiful coastline but more importantly, making final checks on crew manoeuvres and refining the final 1/10th of a knot of boat speed. Jim and Kristy Hinze Clark must be happy with how Comanche (USA) is going right now. The recent line honours winner of the Rolex Fastnet Race has been designed primarily with offshore performance in mind, but this mean-looking 100-footer has been clocking speeds up to 30 knots during the strong wind lead-up to the regatta.

Jim Clark’s COMANCHE (USA) testing ahead of the start of the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup 2015 (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

The navigators have one of the trickiest jobs at the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, being required to keep a weather eye on the clouds above, as well as know what rocky dangers lurk beneath the surface. Tom Addis is one of the big-name navigators at this event, the Volvo Ocean Race veteran working at the back of Carla Cornelli’s Wally 107 Kenora (BVI). “Today’s mistral dies away and our attention turns to the south with a low pressure forming just north of Sicily. This will bring strengthening north-easterly to northerly breeze over us over the next few days.”

Tom Addis, navigator of Maximilian Klink's CARO Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

Tom Addis, navigator of Maximilian Klink’s CARO Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

The week certainly looks set to offer up a good mix of conditions, which is exactly what most teams want. Among the five racing classes, the most closely fought contest is expected to come in the Rolex Maxi 72 World Championship. Newest of the six 72-footers is Dieter Schön’s Momo (GER) which has notched up some impressive victories in her debut season, not least winning her division at last month’s Rolex Fastnet Race. But Momo’s tactician Markus Wieser certainly doesn’t consider his team as the favourites. “All six boats are going very fast, and you couldn’t ask for better crews than you see here this week,” said the German professional. “Yes, Momo has had a very good season, although we were 2nd at the Giraglia Rolex Cup. This is the one that matters more than any other event, though. It’s the World Championship, and it’s one that we would love to win.”

Wieser has been impressed with Bella Mente’s (USA) boat speed in training, and owner Hap Fauth has put together an impressive team in his bid to repeat a sweet victory back in 2012. America’s Cup finallist Terry Hutchinson is calling tactics alongside other Cup veterans like navigator Ian Moore and strategist Adrian Stead. “The racing this week is going to be a game of feet and inches, where you take advantage of every opportunity, no matter how small,” said Hutchinson. “You can see why people can’t get enough of this place – great racing, organised by one of the top three yacht clubs in the world.”

40 teams attended the Skippers' Briefing (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

40 teams attended the Skippers’ Briefing (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

This evening the Skippers’ Briefing took place on the top deck of the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda, with Principal Race Officer Peter Craig welcoming owners, skippers and crews for what promises to be a challenging, exhilarating week’s competition. “If there’s a better place in the world to go yacht racing, I don’t know about it,” said Craig. “The venue, the yacht club, are fantastic. And you look at the calibre of sailors here – bow to stern, these boats are packed with the very best in the world.”

Five days’ racing are scheduled from Monday 7 September to Saturday 12 September, with a lay day on Thursday.

Hetairos by Carlo Borlenghi

With a LOA of 66.7 meters, HETAIROS is the biggest boat in the fleet (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

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Entry List 2015 Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup – Porto Cervo, Italy

@ROBAS
ARAGON
BLACK BETTY
BULTACO
CARO
COMANCHE
GALMA
GAETANA
GENIE OF THE LAMP
GERONIMO
GRANDE ORAZIO by Pioneer Investments
H2O
HETAIROS
INOUI
J ONE
KENORA
LUNZ AM MEER
LYRA
MAGIC CARPET CUBED
MY WAY 60
NAHITA
OPEN SEASON
RYOKAN 2
SENSEI
SHIRLAF
SOLLEONE
SPECTRE
SUPERNIKKA
TANGO G
TILAKKHANA
TUGELA
VIRIELLA
WALLY ῆO
WINDFALL
Y3K
BELLA MENTE
CAOL ILA R
JETHOU
MOMO
PROTEUS
ROBERTISSIMA III

Velsheda Winner of Cruising Spirit of Tradition Class (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

Velsheda Winner of Cruising Spirit of Tradition Class (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

 

Final day at the 20th Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup dawned with blue sky and a gentle north-easterly breeze between 8 and 10 knots. One more opportunity for those already at the top of the standings to prove themselves worthy of winning. Good news also for those yachts still within touching distance of the top. A race would mean opportunity and in yacht-racing opportunity is everything, but only if you are prepared to take it. Getting your name inscribed on the trophies at the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup is no easy feat. Only those most deserving achieve the feat. At close of play those truly in clover were: Ronald de Waal and Velsheda (GBR); Claus Peter Offen and Y3K (GER); Mick Cotter and Whisper (IRL); Filippo Faruffini and Roma-Aniene (ITA), and, Neville Crichton and Alfa Romeo (NZL). Flush with victory and the spoils associated – the Maxi Yacht Cup and a Rolex Yacht-master Chronometer.

If only it were so simple. In Cruising/Spirit of Tradition, Velsheda had wrapped up her division a day early by virtue of winning every race to that point. In Wally, Y3K was also impregnable, by virtue of having scored more firsts than her closest rival, Open Season (GER), which could only match Y3Ks score however badly Offen’s crew sailed the last race; a situation where count-back would favour Offen.

In Racing/Cruising, Roma-Aniene never seemed likely to be overtaken by DSK Pioneer Investments, but the door was still open if DSK could repeat yesterday’s result and finish ahead of Roma. The chances of this seemed slim given Roma had not given DSK a sniff all week until her mainsail issues of yesterday. The same scenario existed in Mini Maxi Racing/Cruising, where both Aegir (GBR) and OPS 5 (ITA) had a mathematical chance to overtake Whisper, should she finish seventh or worse, something Whisper had not done all week. She had had problems yesterday, though, finishing fifth. So a glimmer of hope flickered on. In both cases you had to think lightning does not strike twice.

The classification where the duelling would go closest to the wire looked to be Mini Maxi Racing. Tight battles looked likely in both Mini Maxi Racing (Owner/Driver) and the larger overall Mini Maxi Racing 00 group. The Owner/Driver contest was between Neville Crichton’s Alfa Romeo 3 (NZL) and Hap Fauth’s Bella Mente (USA). The stakes were high; the pressure was on. The maths were simple for Bella Mente, she had to come first. Anything less would not be enough. For Alfa, if she could win or prevent the American crew from winning she would prevail.

The 00 group was also a two-way tussle and also involved Alfa Romeo, with the likes of triple Olympic Gold medallist Ben Ainslie in the crew roster, along with Niklas Zennström’s Rán (GBR). With a three-point separation, the onus was on Alfa to win and hope Rán would finish no better than fourth. Heading out to the start there was every possibility that Crichton might be distracted by his battle with Fauth, since that was where the major prize would be awarded. At the beginning of the week, though, Crichton had stated his aim was to win both groups. Given his competitive streak is longer and wider than most, no one would bet against the New Zealander attempting to win outright from the front.

In the end, the excitement came in only one spot.

Y3K Claus Peter Offen, Winner Of The Wally Class (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

Y3K Claus Peter Offen, Winner Of The Wally Class (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

Velsheda confirmed her supremacy in Cruising/Spirit of Tradition winning the final race. Hasso Plattner’s Visione (GER) did enough to beat Charles Dunstone’s Hamilton II (GBR) in the race today and to take second on the podium. Roma-Aniene confirmed yesterday’s problems were no more than a blip by adding a fourth bullet to her Racing/Cruising scoreline. Danilo Salsi’s DSK’s second place in the race and the overall standing will be some compensation. Whisper, too, asserted herself once more adding a fourth bullet to her Mini Maxi Racing/Cruising record and securing the class by 10-points over Brian Benjamin’s Aegir.

Ronald de Waal skipper and helmsman of Velsheda attributed his victory in Cruising/Spirit of Tradition to his crew, “the team we sail with has been together for a long time, some have been with us for eight years. Of course, we sail with some of the very best in the world and that helps.” This is de Waal’s first overall win at the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup; he has sailed several times before and really enjoys the competition and the location, “it’s a combination of nature, the area, we always have beautiful wind, really beautiful surroundings and always a very good fleet.”

Claus Peter Offen sealed his Wally Division victory with another win. Not bad for a yacht launched in July this year. Sailing with designer Mani Frers onboard as a guest, Offen was understandably delighted with his yacht and the win, “we thought we could get in the top three, but to win with a brand-new boat is unexpected. You usually will have some technical problems, but in all six races we were always first over the line and never had any problems.” Offen paid tribute to his crew, particularly acknowledging the work on the first two days when conditions were at their most difficult.

Filippo Faruffini came, saw and conquered for the second time; Roma confirming her superiority over the series in Racing/Cruising. Faruffini was surprised given how they had come into the competition, “this is sport and you can leave nothing to chance. We only decided only one month ago to race and were really under-prepared. Our sails are old and we broke many, many things.” A number of his crew, from the Circolo Canottieri Aniene (a sporting club in Rome), were new to sailing and to turn them into a team capable of holding their own against the likes of DSK is a true achievement, as tactician Vascotto explains, “all the guys made a real effort today. We pushed hard. We had 22 guys that are not professional at all, but at the end of the week we look to be doing the same manoeuvres as we do with professional guys. Everyone has improved and they can see this, which is our aim.”

Alfa Romeo Neville Crichton Winner Of Mini Maxi Racing (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

Alfa Romeo Neville Crichton Winner Of Mini Maxi Racing (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

Mick Cotter’s emphatic result with Whisper in Mini Maxi Racing/Cruising was a revelation, but had been hinted at last year’s Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup when Cotter’s crew won a sub-division prize, “it’s been a wonderful week, everything went really well. I had a great team and that’s what did it for me. We had few mistakes yesterday, but you can’t expect to go through a week’s regatta and not have a few. The conditions were ideal for us, which helped us considerably in the overall results. The crew know the boat well and the pros have got to know both us and the boat.”

As predicted, the true battle came in Mini Maxi Racing and it was fought tooth and nail between two boats – Bella Mente and Alfa Romeo. Fauth’s crew knew they had to win. Tactician Dee Smith saw to it that Bella Mente won the start at the pin end, whilst Alfa went for the committee boat end. As both yachts sailed their own race for the first leg, the first crossing was a critical moment. It went to Bella Mente and she held off her larger rival until the top of the second beat. At this point the Americans were still within a shout of victory. They were sailing so well that within the Owner/Driver category they were undoubtedly winning. With three more legs it was never going to be easy and, unfortunately for them, Alfa had no thoughts of mercy in mind. She forced her way past and then proceeded to match-race Hap Fauth’s yacht progressively out of the running. Conceding waterline length and therefore speed it was never going to end happily for Fauth. Bella Mente corrected out ahead of Alfa, but critically Andres Soriano’s Alegre (GBR) and Sir Peter Ogden’s Jethou (GBR) corrected out ahead of her. Crichton won by one point.

Crichton knew he had been in a scrap and paid due compliment to the tenacity and sailing skills of Fauth and his crew, as did his tactician, Michael Coxon, and relief helm, Ben Ainslie, who knows plenty about the need for ruthlessness in such circumstances. Crichton was thoroughly pleased with the result “we’re delighted. It was pretty tough out there today. We had to do what we had to do, and we got there in the end. They (Bella Mente) camped on us on the first beat. We finally got them back and then just sat on top of them.”

Meanwhile, Zennström and his Rán crew were able to sail their own race with the fight going on far behind. Once again, Rán took the gun and in doing so walked away with an eight-point victory over Alfa Romeo in the Min Maxi Racing 00 grouping. Zennstrom readily admitted they were flattered by the gap, which had been accentuated by the duel between the Alfa Romeo and Bella Mente.

All in all it has been an enthralling week of competition. The weather has played ball. Each day of racing has produced quality conditions and allowed the crews of the gathered maxis to strut their stuff in style. We’ll allow a newcomer to capture the sensation of racing here. Rachel Howe is the sole female navigator competing this week. Not only that, but she did so on Jethou in the intense environment of the Mini Maxi Racing group. Jethou went out on a high today, finishing the race first in Owner/Driver and second in 00. According to Howe, “this is the most prestigious event that I’ve done, the field that we’re racing in is absolutely spectacular. It’s an inspirational fleet to be part of. To get the opportunity to race against the people we’re racing against is just incredible. It is a real privilege. It’s intimidating at first, but once you are out there getting on with your job you realise everyone is pretty normal.once you see past the (Olympic) gold medals and the America’s Cups!”

 

Magie Carpet (Photo by Carlo Borlenghi)

Magie Carpet 2 (Photo by Carlo Borlenghi)

The Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup 2009 heads into its final day with the division leaders poised to take their place on the victory podium. Velsheda (GBR) in Cruising/Spirit of Tradition has locked out the opposition and is unbeatable. Whisper (IRL) in Mini Maxi Racing/Cruising put one foot wrong today, but still looks to be secure. Y3K (GER) in Wally is another looking purposefully forward rather than nervously behind, while Alfa Romeo (NZL) and Bella Mente (USA) in Mini Maxi Racing (Owner/Driver) know there is all to play for. Roma (ITA) in Racing/Cruising approached the precipice of despair today and will have to have better luck tomorrow if she is not to topple over.

The Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup fleet were divided into two main groups today. One batch undertook a coastal course, whilst the other some short course racing. Most of the overnight leaders put in good or reasonable performances and even those that had difficult days did enough to maintain their positions at the head of their standings. Only in Mini Maxi Racing 00 do we have a new leader in the form of Ràn (GBR).

Cruising/Spirit of Tradition, Racing & Racing Cruising and Mini Maxi Racing/Cruising embarked on a 25-mile lap that took the yachts to a windward mark, before bearing off towards Monaci. A spinnaker run down into the channel and the turn at Secca di tre Monti was followed by a reach through Passo delle Bisce, which widened as the yachts headed on to the bottom mark of the course at Mortoriotto allowing the adventurous to set their spinnakers a second time. The final leg was a fetch back to the finish off Porto Cervo with the usual hitch into Pevero just before the line. Conditions were blissful. Bright sun, reasonable breeze that held through the majority of the course; all sailed on a chop that kept the foredeck crews nimble on their toes.

There were a number of vantage points to catch the fleet engaged on the coastal course. One of the best was certainly the rocky outcrop that is Isola dei Monaci just as the Cruising/Spirit of Tradition Class thundered past trying hard to avoid flattening the Mini Maxi Racing/Cruising, which had the fortune or misfortune, depending upon one’s viewpoint, to arrive at the same time. From a spectator’s standpoint it was just a wonderful spectacle, well worth the hassle of a flying leap from a bucking rib onto the abrasive granite piercing through the waves. Given it was lunchtime too; the timing was perfect for twenty minutes or so of entertainment.

Possibly, though, the next location was the best. At first all you see is the house pennant poking above the rock, moving as if some child is running across the uneven cliff top with a flag in hand. Slowly at first, but with gathering pace an expanse of khaki Kevlar starts to appear. Then you sense the noise, initially just the groaning strain of an easing sheet followed the sound of water being pushed dismissively aside. This is the approach of the J Class Velsheda to Capo Faro, the southern edge of the Passo delle Bisce. The highest point of Capo Ferro is 46 metres; Velsheda’s mast is 56 metres, so no contest on the height front. Except from a rib it takes a while to assimilate the information rushing towards you and to register the size of yacht involved.

Luna Rossa and Bella Mente (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

Luna Rossa and Bella Mente (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

In Racing & Racing/Cruising, Karl Kwok’s 80-foot Beau Geste (HKG) was first to round Monaci. She ate the course to day as if it were no more filling than an antipasti. This is a boat that flies, completing the 25 nautical mile course in 10 minutes under the two-hour mark. Beau Geste is an awe-inspiring sight from the water. On the boat it has the feeling of a powerboat, and the sensation of speed is real and enjoyable, as Francesco de Angelis, tactician onboard, explains; “I’ve sailed for many years on different, heavier boats. This is a lot of fun. She is a big boat but you sail like it’s a small one because you need the weight in the proper place and you need to manoeuvre well. But she is user-friendly and speed is your friend with this yacht. She is as surefooted as an all-wheel drive. You permanently feel under control.” Interestingly, de Angelis says the crew are still getting accustomed to her ways and how hard to push her. He does not think we have seen all of Beau Geste’s potential just yet.

Amongst the Racing/Cruising yachts, Roma-Aniene still leads the standings, after a day that saw her lose her mainsail immediately after the start. Sailing the course under storm trysail might be different, but it relegated her to the role of walking wounded and into last place in the day’s race results. DSK Pioneer Investments (ITA) took the bullet and is now level on points with Roma, but with a discard coming into play tomorrow it will take another disastrous day on Roma to deny her the title. Andrea Casale, the tactician on DSK, acknowledges the unlikelihood of securing victory, but is pleased to be putting up a fight, “we’ve had our best, cleanest and steadiest day. We had an easy life because of the problem to Roma’s mainsail just after the starting line. It’s good to go into the last race with a little chance. It is good motivation for the crew to think they could win.” In his closing remarks, Casale revealed the sporting nature of the contest this week commenting that if results do not go their way tomorrow he would be happy to see the crew of Roma win.

Maxi Fleet Rounding Monaci Island (Photo by Carlo Borlenghi)

Maxi Fleet Rounding Monaci Island (Photo by Carlo Borlenghi)

In the Cruising/Spirit of Tradition it was Ronald de Waal and Velsheda’s day yet again. They have wrapped up this division and have no need to sail tomorrow to win. But they will and we will be treated to another enthralling chance to watch a historic yacht charge at full tilt around the Porto Cervo racing grounds. Charles Dunstone’s Hamilton II (GBR) took second on handicap, and lies in second overnight on equal points with Hasso Plattner’s Visione (GER), which finished third. Bouwe Bekking, a six-times round the world racer in the Whitbread and Volvo is onboard Visione for the week and gave a brief insight to the differences racing a boat over twice the length of his usual steed, “first and foremost it’s a beautiful boat below and on-deck, so we have to be very careful with the sail-handling. In general, because it’s bigger we take a lot longer with manoeuvres. The biggest spinnaker is 1500 square metres and takes two-minutes to hoist and then you have to get the sock off. Dropping the spinnaker can take three-minutes. Otherwise, the boat has seven metres draft so with all the rocks it is a little nerve-racking. You do not cut any corners and take a wide berth of every rock around the course.”

Mick Cotter’s Whisper has all but sewn up Mini Maxi Racing/Cruising despite a fifth place today. Her closets rival Aegir (GBR) is five points behind and when the throw out comes into play tomorrow it will take a bigger implosion on the part of Cotter and his crew to lose their hard fought lead. Brian Benjamin, owner of Aegir, is more than satisfied though, “we’ve been coming here for four years and had our first second-place in a race on Tuesday and today bettered that with our first first-place finish. Our best overall result has been fourth, so being in second at this stage is fantastic.” Aegir will have to sail smart tomorrow. She is locked on 13-points with OPS 5 (ITA) going into the last race.

The Mini Maxi Racing Division took on two more windward/leeward courses of 10.8 miles each. The wind was northerly and around 12 knots for the first race, dropping as low as 8 knots for the second. It was a tricky day, complicated by a 1.5 metre choppy sea-state. With the breeze favouring the right side of the course and a significant current influencing the left, the strategic-planning departments at the back of each boat were on a heightened state of alert for opportunities to gain and possibilities to lose. Keeping two steps ahead was a necessary part of the game. Ràn ran away with the ball in the Overall Mini Maxi 00 Division posting two wins to Alfa Romeo’s 2, 6 score line and Niklas Zennstrom holds a three-point advantage, with a discard already in play. Robert Scheidt, Torben Grael and Nacho Postigo on Luna Rossa (ITA) made amends for yesterday’s car-crash, scoring 5, 2 to lock themselves in third place. Hap Fauth and Bella Mente lie in fourth place in 00, but in second in the all-important Owner/Driver Classification, only one-point adrift of Alfa Romeo, which had a run in with Andres Soriano’s Alegre (GBR) during the second of today’s races.

Maxi Fleet (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

Maxi Fleet (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

The Wally division twice took on the same windward/leeward course. Lindsay Owen Jones’ Magic Carpet (GBR) with an afterguard triumvirate of Tony Rey, Tom Whidden and Marcel van Triest put in a commanding performance to take two victories. Not enough to put her in contention for the overall prize, where Y3K’s dominance remains. Claus Peter Offen’s latest yacht looks to be as competitive as his previous and holds a five-point lead over Thomas Bscher’s Open Season (GER). Rey admitted they were turning it around a little late, but the crew were pleased with the effort, “today played to our strengths and we had two really nice results. I had a lot of confidence in the crew to get the sails up and down, so we could sail the boat assertively. We’re always looking for podium finish every time we go racing and could make the top three. Magic carpet has always had a bit of magic to it when she comes racing here and guys are all pumped to go racing tomorrow.” So watch out J One.

Whatever the conditions tomorrow and whatever the results, there will definitely be a little bit of magic on the water. Whenever a group of maxis go racing anywhere in the world it is a spectacular sight. There is just something about Porto Cervo and the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup that lifts it into a different league.

The final race takes place tomorrow, Saturday, with the first start scheduled for 11.30 CEST. The prize giving takes place tomorrow evening at 18.30 CEST on the Piazza Azzurra.

IDEA and Good Job Guys (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

IDEA and Good Job Guys (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

CURRENT PROVISIONAL STANDINGS Place, Boat Name, Owner, Nation, R1-R2, R3, R4, (R5, R6)*, Points (w/discard after 5 races)

Mini Maxi Racing (owner/driver)*
1. Alfa Romeo, Neville Crichton, NZL, 2-2-1-1-1-3, 7.0 points
2. Bella Mente, Hap Fauth, USA, 1-1-4-2-2-2, 8.0
3. Jethou, Peter Ogden, GBR, 3-3-2-4-4-1, 13.0

Mini Maxi (00 Class)*
1. Ran, Niklas Zennstrom, GBR, 4-2-3-2-1-1, 9.0 points
2. Alfa Romeo, Neville Crichton, NZL, 3-4-2-1-2-6, 12.0
3. Bella Mente, Hap Fauth, USA, 2- 3-7-4-4-5, 18.0

Mini Maxi Racing/Cruising
1. Whisper, Michael Cotter, IRL, 1-1-1-5, 8.0 points
2. Aegir, Brian Benjamin, GBR, 6-2-4-1, 13.0
3. Ops 5, Massimo Violati, ITA, 3-6-2-3, 14.0

Racing – Racing/Cruising
1. Beau Geste, Karl Kwok, HKG, 1-1-1-1, 4.0 points
2. Roma – Aniene, C.C. Aniene/F. Faruffini, ITA, 2-2-2-5, 11.0
3. DSK Pioneer Investments, Danilo Salsi, ITA, 3-3-3-2, 11.0

Racing/Cruising
1. Roma – Aniene, C.C. Aniene/F. Faruffini, ITA, 1-1-1-4, 7.0 points
2. DSK Pioneer Investments, Danilo Salsi, ITA, 2-2-2-1, 7.0
3. Sagamore Enigma, Nicola Paoleschi, ITA, 3-4-3-2, 12.0

Wally*
1. Y3K, Claus-Peter Offen, GER, 3-1-1-2-3, 10.0 points
2. Open Season, Thomas Bscher, GER, 2-3-2-6-2, 15.0
3. J One, Jean-Charles Decaux, FRA, 1-2-5-4-5, 17.0

Cruising/Spirit of Tradition
1. Velsheda, Tarbat Investment Ltd, GBR, 1-1-1-1, 4.0 points
2. Hamilton II, Lockstock Ltd, GBR, 2-4-5-2, 13.0
3. Visione, Hasso Plattner, GER, 5-3-2-3, 13.0

Beau Geste Upwind Day Two (Photo by Carlo Borlenghi)

Beau Geste Upwind Day Two (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

Day two of the 2009 Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup dawned bright and clear. Early reports from the racecourse suggested a small change in conditions from yesterday. The wind had backed a little to the north, and was blowing a fresh 15 knots, but the sea state remained large and lumpy. Happy campers this evening were Luna Rossa (ITA) in Mini Maxi Racing; Y3K (GER) in Wally; Beau Geste (HKG) in Racing & Racing Cruising; Whisper (IRL) in Mini Maxi Racing/Cruising and Velsheda (GBR) in Cruising/Spirit of Tradition.

Peter Craig and the Race Committee had little sympathy for the crew on the Racing Mini Maxis and Wallys who might have sampled too much Sardinian hospitality last night. These two divisions were sent on a 47-nautical mile jaunt up the islet and rock strewn main channel of the Maddalena archipelago to Eceuil de Lavezzi, just off the southern tip of Corsica, followed by the now familiar open-sea reach down the back of the islands, this time extending down the Costa Smeralda to Mortoriotto before heading back up to the finish off Porto Cervo. There was much the same lack of sympathy for the remaining three divisions which raced a 39-nautical mile diet-version of the course which took them up to the vaunted Eceuil before heading home round the outside, albeit without the complication of Mortoriotto.

Mini Maxi Fleet start (Photo by Carlo Borlenghi)

Mini Maxi Fleet start (Photo by Carlo Borlenghi)

The Racing Mini Maxis, once again the first start pathfinders, were shorn of one of their number before the day began. Udo Schutz’s Container (GER) had headed off to Olbia early this morning to be lifted out of the water to properly inspect some damage suffered yesterday. The remaining seven leapt off the start line looking alarmingly similar to a startled group of blue marlin, all threatening bowsprits to the fore. Ràn (GBR), with Tim Powell as its principal helm, shrugged off yesterday’s woe and led from start to finish, delighting owner Niklas Zennström whose only complaint was having had to hike hard for most of the course. Ràn completed the route in just over three and a half hours, but corrected out a troublesome twenty-five seconds behind Luna Rossa. Once again the Brazilian double act of Torben Grael and Robert Scheidt putting one over their immediate opposition. Hap Fauth and Bella Mente (USA) won the battle of Mini Maxi owner/drivers finishing third on the water and handicap, snuffing out a sharp-looking Neville Crichton and Alfa Romeo (NZL), which had trailed Ràn around the course.

Open Season, Y3K and Magic Carpet (Photo by Carlo Borlenghi)

Open Season, Y3K and Magic Carpet (Photo by Carlo Borlenghi)

In the Racing & Racing/Cruising Group, Karl Kwok’s Beau Geste (HKG) with Gavin Brady and Francesco de Angelis masterminding the control centre seared round the shorter of the two tracks in just under three hours, roasting the opposition in the process to correct out ahead of Filippo Faruffini’s Roma-Aniene (ITA) and Danilo Salsi’s Swan 90 DSK Pioneer Investments (ITA). This is only Kwok’s second venture into Sardinian waters and the first on his own boat. He is certainly enjoying the sailing experience, “today’s conditions were similar to yesterday’s, but there were some patches of stronger breeze. Much of the time we were at 16-17 knots which was good. The boat loves long reaching legs and we were given some of these today. We’re happy in big seas and the crew work has been no problem. We’re looking forward to the rest of the week. I’m sure the weather will stay the same, but we’re hoping that so will the wind!”

In the Wallys, Magic Carpet (GBR) strode imperiously up the initial windward leg to lead Y3K and Open Season (GER) into the top mark. At one point, all three were line abreast looking more akin to battle cruisers steaming purposefully towards a fray. Certainly the foredeck crews could be forgiven for assimilating their situation to a war zone, getting a royal hosing as these powerful craft took on the still indecently sized seas just off Porto Cervo. Y3K won through in the end, both on the water and handicap converting a four-minute lead over Magic Carpet to a narrow one-minute victory over the much smaller J One (FRA), which had finished the race some forty minutes astern. Open Season looked to have lost out to Magic Carpet by a mere four seconds for the final podium slot, until a port/starboard protest between these two led to Magic Carpet‘s disqualification rounding off a difficult two days for Lindsay Owen Jones and crew.

Visione In Day 2 Racing Off Porto Cervo, Italy (Photo by Carlo Borlenghi)

Visione In Day 2 Racing Off Porto Cervo, Italy (Photo by Carlo Borlenghi)

In the Mini Maxi Racing/Cruising, Idea might have taken the line honours gun, but it was Mick Cotter who must have kissed the Blarney Stone again this morning. According to Brian Benjamin on Aegir (GBR), the crew of Whisper put on another eloquent display of big-sea sailing through the Straits of Bonifacio where the fleet faced a stiff beat following a significant right-hand swing in the wind direction. Benjamin was home some twenty minutes after his Irish counterpart and just three and bit minutes shy on handicap, apparently Aegir‘s best performance in four years to date. Sailing with Benjamin was Royal Ocean Racing Club Commodore Andrew Mcirvine, a newcomer to yachting’s Xanadu; “I’ve sailed in most bits of the world but never here. It’s absolutely stunning. Absolutely perfect conditions and the hardware out there is incredible. It’s wonderful watching huge boats go past you and, for me, we’re on a pretty huge boat already.”

The last start of the day was by no means the least spectacular, being reserved for yachts over 100-feet. The jousting giants include not just the largest yachts at the event, but some of the prettiest with examples appealing equally to those drawn by classic looks and those by ultra-modern. The purists will be pleased by Velsheda‘s second victory in as many races and, even more so by Hetairos‘ (CAY) second place on handicap despite finishing almost an hour behind first-home Visione (GER).

Velshelda Beating (Photo by Carlo Borlenghi)

Velsheda Beating (Photo by Carlo Borlenghi)

Visione is a gargantuan 45 metres or just a few euros short of 150 feet. By no means the biggest sailing yacht in the world, she still grabs the spotlight here this week. Big does not necessarily mean beautiful, but underway Visione is as graceful as she is potent. From the water she is a commanding presence. From the air she is spectacular. Vast swathes of deck patrolled by ants, handling massive areas of sail. Another eye-catching yacht is the strikingly turquoise-hulled Gliss (SUI), owned by Marco Vögele. Vögele has turned to Ireland for one of his professional talent this week, hoping that Harold Cudmore – a stalwart of the grand-prix America’s and Admiral’s Cup racing scenes for some decades – would add a touch of Irish luck to his campaign. Cudmore has seen it all and more, but still finds the racing here special; “today was a cracking day, just as yesterday. Up amongst the islands with these magnificent yachts in close company; into the Strait, the wind came up a bit, we’re all under a bit of pressure, there are things happening all around and it makes for a wonderful time.”

Racing Continues through September 12

J-Class Velsheda (Photo by Carlo Borlenghi)

J-Class Velsheda (Photo by Carlo Borlenghi)

There was a twinkle in the eye of Poseidon this morning. The current crop of sailing gods may have gathered in Porto Cervo for the 2009 Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, but the lord of the sea was about to prove mastery of the waves does not come easily even to the gifted. This was to be a testing day for all competitors. Not everyone was overawed, as ocean ace Torben Grael and Olympic maestro Robert Scheidt conspired to bring Luna Rossa (ITA) home first amongst the Racing Mini Maxis, although not without their moment. Jean-Charles Decaud’s J One (FRA) was the fortunate one in the Wallys, while Velsheda (GBR) and tradition got the better of modernity in Cruising. The luck of the Irish was evidenced in the Racing/Cruising Mini Maxis as Whisper (IRL) quietly went about her business and in the combined Racing/Cruising division, Karl Kwok’s Beau Geste (HKG) wrapped up the race win in indecent haste.

The journey from Porto Cervo harbour to the start line was enough to set the nerves jangling this morning as a 3-metre sea and 20 – 25 knots of northeasterly wind greeted competitors. The conditions were more than manageable for Maxi yachts, but there were traps in the waves and gusts that would catch those unwary, unlucky or unprepared. The Race Committee chose a 35 nautical mile course, that took the fleet on a beat to a windward mark, followed by a fetch to the rocks at Monaci, where the yachts bore off onto a run down into the main channel between the Maddalena Islands and mainland Sardinia. At Secca di Tre Monti the fleet hardened up for some upwind work in flat water to the top mark of the course at Barrettinelli di Fuori. Then it was back out into the lump and bump of the open sea and a fast reach down to the finish off Porto Cervo.

The Racing Mini Maxis got proceedings underway. Neville Crichton all but confirmed his worst fears about preparation with a distinctly second row start that saw Alfa Romeo (NZL) forced to tack off onto port straight after the gun. The division split in two with half favouring the right and half the left. The right paid. By first mark, Crichton’s crew, with Ben Ainslie in the strategist’s role, had regained composure and position to take a slender lead over Niklas Zennstrom’s Ràn (GBR). Luna Rossa was in third and the biggest surprise was the 60-foot Jethou getting the better of the STP65 Container (GER). It was at this point that Poseidon played his first trump card. Andres Soriano and Alegre (GBR) suffered sail damage that was considered enough to warrant the crew taking an early bath. One down.

The next three classes got away without incident making the best of the difficult conditions. The fifth and final start was the most dramatic. Poseidon’s humour was black at this point, perhaps frustrated at the fleet’s apparent nonchalant regard for the conditions. The Polish crew on Intuition were thrown the unhittable curve ball. Two bangs announced the Racing/Cruising Mini Maxi’s entrance into the arena. The one from the Committee boat was expected. The one from the from Intuition was gut wrenching as the top three metres of her mast separated leaving her mortally-wounded on the line, a sorry sight for the fast departing fleet. Two down.

Mini Maxi Winner, Whisper (Photo by Carlo Borlenghi)

Mini Maxi Winner, Whisper (Photo by Carlo Borlenghi)

 

In The Wallys, Lindsay Owen Jones and Magic Carpet had looked to be settled into the groove early holding a good lead over Open Season and the longer Y3K. It was a lead they would hold all the way to Barrettinelli when the trident of bad fortune chose to strike Owen Jones, not for the first time in the history of this event. Twice in quick succession the head sail appeared to blow out of the foil, leaving the Magic Carpet looking a little thread bare as she was forced to finish race under main alone. Not quite three down, but in the context of this race she would no longer play a serious role.

On Luna Rossa, Robert Scheidt and Torben Grael were understandably happy with the way the day’s events unfolded. “It was a good day for us,” commented Grael, “we had a nice start, read the course well, made some nice moves and even got to the finish line ahead, which is good for a small boat in a class like ours.” Grael admitted that it had not been straightforward describing how shortly after watching Ràn suffer her moment of misfortune when the jib tack broke tearing the sail out of the headfoil, the Luna Rossa crew took the lead and promptly lost control of the inner staysail during the hoist. Fortunately for Luna Rossa they were reaching at this point and the issue was no more than an irritation. Ràn’s problems cost them second if not the race, according to tactician Adrian Stead. The remaining podium positions in Luna Rossa’s class were taken by Hap Fauth’s Bella Mente (USA) and Alfa Romeo.

In the second tier group of Mini Maxis, comprising the less race-oriented boats, the Irish yacht, Whisper, sailed an exemplary race to correct out seven minutes ahead of Massimillano Florio’s Grande Orazio and Massimo Violati’s OPS 5. Mick Cotter, the owner, was a happy man as he climbed ashore, “we had big breeze, which helps a big heavy boat like ours! We had no problems either, which some of the other boats seemed to have.” For Cotter the biggest problem of the day was which sail to put up; a decision-making question-mark echoed by tactician Andy Beadsworth, who described how on the reach back to the finish they were torn between sticking with the sail combination that had almost got them to the top of the course first on the water or changing up a gear. In the end, conservatism won through. “We had a few concerns about hoisting the kite. We’d been going well till that point, though we might have been better off reefed. Putting the spinnaker up might have opened us to more problems and, to be honest, we were in such a good position we didn’t need to gain anything, so we held off,” Beadsworth explained. Wise choice.

Luna Rosa (Photo by Carlo Borlenghi)

Luna Rosa (Photo by Carlo Borlenghi)

For some crews the end of racing today could not come soon enough. The prospect of more of the same tomorrow will probably be unnerving a few. By contrast, for Mick Cotter, tomorrow can’t come soon enough and he is hoping for another dose of the medicine, “I don’t think there is a better place to sail, you are nearly always going to get a breeze and it’s warm so it does not matter if the sea comes over you.” When Irish eyes are smiling.

HETAIROS In Maxi Yacht Rolex Race 2008 (Photo by Rolex / Kurt Arrigo)

Hetairos In Maxi Yacht Rolex Race 2008 (Photo by Rolex / Kurt Arrigo)

 

When the 20th edition of the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup gets underway in two weeks, expect nothing less than a medieval scrap between various latter day warlords and their trusted retainers. The mightiest contest is expected in the Mini Maxi division where eight of the latest exponents of this growing class will be brushing up on Sun Tzu’s Art of War ahead of the season’s highlight Maxi yacht event, which begins on 6 September and is organised by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda. Equally, compelling contests will unfold elsewhere in the forty-four boat fleet, which features some battlefield goliaths including Albert Buell’s 45.19 metre (148 foot) Saudade (MLT), only marginally outstripped on the size front by Hasso Plattner’s 45.52 metre (149 foot) Visione (GER).

Only one division champion from 2008 is returning to the scene of their triumph. Lindsay Owen Jones’ 28.8 metre (94 foot) Magic Carpet 2 (GBR) will be defending her Wally Yachts’ title. Owen Jones has won his division at this event on four occasions with two different yachts, but even he will be anticipating a tough few days. Jean Charles Decaux and the 24.4 metre (80 foot) J One (FRA) (the former two-time winning steed of Owen Jones) vanquished all opposition in 2007, whilst Claus Peter Offen, a victor in 2005, is returning with a brand new 30.5 metre (100 foot) Y3K (GER). This latest Y3K features a trim-tab fixed keel, PBO rigging, a high modulus carbon-fibre mast and a three-metre bowsprit. Weighing in at 57 tonnes she incorporates a luxurious interior and is no stripped-out flyer, but Offen is a competitive yachtsman and looked to the America’s Cup Class design world when selecting the keel and rudder combination.

Y3K will not be the only yacht making its Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup debut. There are a host of Mini Maxis getting ready to engage in battle on the waters off Porto Cervo for the first time. Niklas Zennstrom’s 21.9 metre (72 foot) Rán 2 (GBR), flush with success from the 2009 Rolex Fastnet where she took the overall win, is heading into the fray. Zennstrom will expect no quarter from Patrizio Bertelli’s all-star cast on the STP 65 Luna Rossa (ITA) or Udo Schütz’s STP 65 Container (GER) – both newcomers too. Schütz is a former Admiral’s Cup winner and is unlikely to be fazed by any of the other formidable weaponry on display. Hap Fauth’s 21 metre (69 foot) Bella Mente (USA) is another freshman hoping to prove her mettle along with Sir Peter Ogden’s Jethou (GBR). At 18.3 metres (60 foot), Jethou is the smallest combatant amongst the IRC oriented Mini Maxis and the crew will have their work cut out to keep pace on the water with some of their competitors. However, first home is not first on the podium. Corrected time is the all-important determinant of who receives the spoils.

Whilst the newest Mini Maxis are expected to replicate an on-water cavalry charge around the courses, a 2006 division winner will be taking the contest at a more leisurely pace. The 38.25 metre (125 foot) Hetairos (CAY) was built in 1993, but is absolutely classic in appearance. Often, at the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, she appears to adopt a field-marshal’s role observing the mêlée from afar and then delivering the crushing blow come results time. Another expected to follow this model is the 39.92 metre (131 foot) Maria Cattiva (MLT). Launched in 2003 by the Dutch yard Royal Huisman, Maria Cattiva is a Bruce King design, just like Hetairos, and is also a modern interpretation of a bygone era.

This year’s Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup also forms the final showdown in the Swan Maxi Class. The 2008 circuit winner, Roel Pieper’s Swan 80 Favonius (NED) (winner of the Rolex Swan Cup in the same year), comes to the arena with a solid track record on the Costa Smeralda. Pieper will expect no quarter from the Swan 90s Solleone (ITA) or DSK Pioneer Investments (ITA), the Swan 82FD Grey Goose (GER) or the Swan 601 @robas (FRA) all of whom will be looking to unseat him.

RANGER In Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup 2008 (Photo by Rolex/ Daniel Forster)

Ranger In Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup 2008 (Photo by Rolex/ Daniel Forster)

Leaving aside the warlike analogies for the moment, the event is shaping up to be memorable one particularly if the wind plays its part and allows organisers the chance to put on a full-week of competition. With competing yachts from 16 different nations, including Karl Kwok with Beau Geste from Hong Kong and Neville Crichton with Alfa Romeo 3 from New Zealand, it will be an international occasion. One other thing for certain, the intensity of activity on the water will be matched by the intensity of the social schedule ashore, as owners and crews mix together to trade war stories each evening.

The Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup 2009, organised by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda takes place from 6 to 12 September. Racing commences on Monday, 7 September and concludes with the final prizegiving on Saturday, 12 September. From the most luxurious, through the most traditional, to the most advanced monohulls afloat today, the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup is nothing if not an astonishing line up of sailing power.

ALFA ROMEO 3 and ROSEBUD In Rolex Maxi Yacht Cup 2008 (Photo by Rolex/Daniel Forster)

Alfa Romeo 3 and Rosebud In Rolex Maxi Yacht Cup 2008 (Photo by Rolex/Daniel Forster)

 Entry List For Rolex Maxi Yacht Cup 2009

Robas
Aegir
Alegre
Alfa Romeo
Aniene
Beau Geste
Bellamente
Container
Coral
Dark Shadow
DK Pioneer Investments
Favonius
Gala
Genie
Gliss
Good Job Guys
Grande Orazio
Grey Goose

H2O
Hamilton II
Hetairos
Idea
Inti
J One
Jethou

Ladisea
Luna Rossa
Magie Carpet 2
Maria Cattuva
Maya
Open Season
OPS 5
Ran
Rosebud / Tean DYT
Sagamore
Saudade
Solleone
Valkyrie
Varsovie
Velsheda
Viriella
Visione
Whisper

Y3K