CAOL ILA AND STIG CROSS TACKING (Photo by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi)

Enthusiasm was in abundance at the 2013 Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup as a gathering of the finest sailors, most passionate owners, and inspiring yachts met in Porto Cervo, Sardinia for the pinnacle rendezvous of the annual Maxi yacht racing calendar.

Velsheda's Classic Low Freeboard Awash (Photo by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi)

“The two things which make the event unique are the racecourses and the participants,” explained Riccardo Bonadeo, Commodore of event organizers Yacht Club Costa Smeralda (YCCS). “The Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup from the very beginning has always been the event of excellence for ocean-going boats. And the environment is perhaps the most spectacular and technical in the world.”

“This is the pre-eminent regatta. Everyone is training for it for the whole season. It’s where everyone comes together,” explained Niklas Zennström, owner of the highly successful Mini Maxi Rán 2. “It’s the one we all want to win.”

Inoui Spinnaker flys (Photo by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi)

37 yachts, divided into six classes, contested a myriad of challenging racecourses organized during the weeklong event on the Costa Smeralda. While conditions throughout the 24th edition of this pre-eminent competition were light, the Race Committee was able to successfully organize a gripping week of racing.

Fast and fascinating

The Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, sponsored by Rolex since 1985, has always been the showcase and proving ground for a fleet of contrasting yachts, and a chance for designers and owners to meet and draw inspiration for future projects. “I’m always looking for the latest, newest technology and something that’s a bit different to what other people are doing,” admitted Lord Irvine Laidlaw, owner of the 82-ft Highland Fling. A sentiment and quest echoed by many in attendance.

Many owners are using advances in technology to drive the design of faster boats; an idea at the forefront of Sir Lindsay Owen-Jones’s mind when he commissioned Magic Carpet 3, a 100-ft yacht designed to answer his quest for a boat that would be comfortable and sail fast whether cruising or racing. Line honours success at the Giraglia Rolex Cup was an early indication of the boat’s speed potential compared to his previous yacht. “It’s much faster. It is much more fun, much more exciting. It feels like a racing boat and that’s what we wanted,” explained Owen-Jones. “Paradoxically, it is a much better cruising boat because of its extra width, which gives people air and space and makes it a very stable cruising platform.

Magic Carpet 3 on Day 3 (Photo by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi)

Owen-Jones had firm ambitions for Magic Carpet 3. “We’ve written our name five times on the wall next to the door to the Yacht Club (Costa Smeralda), the idea of putting it there a sixth time, which I think would be a record for any name, is a terribly exciting idea.”

Jean Charles Decaux – J-ONE Despite the presence of Magic Carpet 3 and Sir Charles Dunstone’s Hamilton, whose crew included both British Olympian Ian Walker and Simon Le Bon of Duran Duran fame, the Wally Class was dominated by Jean Charles Decaux’s J-One, which won four of the seven races. “Consistency, focus and great teamwork is the magic combination and we are very happy to be the winner again after six years,” explained Decaux. “We are the oldest boat in the fleet and smaller compared to the new ones. We really had to make no mistakes, or at least fewer mistakes than our competitors.”

 

Spinnaker Drop on the J Class Rainbow (Photo by Rolex.Carlo Borlenghi)

Elegance Personified

While eyes feasted on some of the newer boats, the J-Class offered purists with an eye-catching reminder of yesteryear. Of the four J-Class yachts entered at the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, Shamrock and Velsheda are restorations of yachts launched over 80 years ago, while Rainbow and Ranger are design replicas of original boats destroyed for metal during the Second World War.

Those competing in the J-Class were not intent on solely distracting photographers. “We enjoy close racing and have to be very mindful dealing with equipment that is incredibly valuable and doesn’t respond that quickly. However, none of us want to simply nurse the boats around the course. We want to push it in the gap, that’s the challenge,” revealed Velsheda’ s Tom Dodson.

Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup (Photo by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi)

 

 

 

 

 

HETAIROS 66m (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

Always one of the most eye-catching and momentous events in the international sailing calendar, the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup is an astonishing line up of design, power and prowess. The 24th edition of the event – the world’s most important meeting of Maxi yachts – will take place from 1-7 September. This annual rendezvous held in Porto Cervo, Sardinia is organized by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda (YCCS) and the International Maxi Association (IMA). Rolex has been title sponsor since 1985.

The stage is set for a dramatic week of sailing with an impressive fleet of yachts all upwards of 60-feet (18.29-metres) in length preparing to grace the alluring but often uncompromising waters of Sardinia’s La Maddalena Archipelago. Competition will take place in different categories, including Mini Maxi, Maxi Racing, Maxi Racing/Cruising, Supermaxi and Wally.

Stig chases Bella Mente (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

The highly competitive Mini Maxi Class – yachts measuring from 60-79 ft – is experiencing something of a golden age; the fleet is closely matched, highly competitive and increasingly popular. This year marks the fourth running of the Mini Maxi Rolex World Championship. The defending champion is Hap Fauth’s 72-ft American entry Bella Mente. Last year, the new launch narrowly defeated Niklas Zennström’s 72-ft Rán 2, winner in 2010 and 2011. The level of competition is even greater this year. Andres Soriano is expected to arrive with his recently launched 72-ft Alegre (GBR), the freshest Mini Maxi design. His former 68-ft Alegre is now owned by Alexander Schaerer and is continuing to excel as Caol Ila R. Other forecast entrants like George Sakellaris’s Shockwave, Sir Peter Ogden’s Jethou and Alessandro Rombelli’s Stig are all equally capable of upsetting the form book.

Mini Max class 2012 start (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

Rivalries will be renewed throughout the competing fleet. The Wally class always reserves dramatic action. This year looks particularly appetising. Sir Lindsay Owen-Jones’s Magic Carpet crew – perennial winners in Porto Cervo – will be racing for the first time on Owen-Jones’s new Wally Cento Magic Carpet 3. The line honours winner at June’s Giraglia Rolex Cup features experienced former Olympic medallist Jochen Schümann as skipper. Meanwhile Claus-Peter Offen’s 100-ft Y3K from Germany will hit the water after recent modifications in an effort to maintain her remarkable run of success in Porto Cervo.

Belgian Filip Balcaen’s 112-ft Nilaya has dominated the Supermaxi class – reserved for yachts measuring in excess of 100-ft – over the past two years. The Class is typically the most diverse, attracting yachts built for both luxurious cruising and competitive sailing. Last year, the event set a new record with the appearance of the gigantic 216-ft Hetairos, the largest boat to ever feature in the competition.

For further details on the 2013 Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup and the event’s rich history, a dedicated Press Kit is available to download here and will shortly be available in other languages. An accompanying photo story provides a visual presentation of the event.

EVENT PROGRAMME

Sunday, 1 September

YCCS Welcome Reception
Inspections, registration and briefing

Monday, 2 September

Race (s)

Tuesday, 3 September

Race (s)

Wednesday, 4 September

Race (s)

Thursday, 5 September

Lay day or resail

Friday, 6 September

Race (s)
Rolex Crew Party

Saturday, 7 September

Race (s)
Final Prize Giving

Mini Max fleet (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

 

FANTASTICAAAANIENE Swan 100 (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

FANTASTICAAAANIENE Swan 100 (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

The Rolex Swan Cup is one of the most visually captivating sailing competitions: a unique meeting of some of the world’s finest yachts, all built by Nautor’s Swan. So far, nearly 70 Swan yachts have confirmed participation and the final figure is expected to reach 100 – an impressive showing for one of the Mediterranean’s most iconic yachting occasions. This biennial event was inaugurated in 1980 and its enduring partnership with Rolex began in 1984. Traditionally held in Porto Cervo, Sardinia, the 17th edition takes place from 10-16 September.

RITA Swan 55 (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

RITA Swan 55 (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

Four classes are anticipated: Maxi (18.29 metres/60 feet and above), Grand Prix (18.28m and below), Classic (models designed by Sparkman and Stephens) and Swan 45 One-Design, where 2010 World Champion Earlybird (GER) is returning to defend her crown.

The international reach of the Rolex Swan Cup is confirmed by the presence of some 13 countries in the entry list. Debutante Russian entrant Bronenosec (Swan 60) has been a regular on the 2012 Rolex circuit with notable performances at both the Rolex Volcano Race and the Giraglia Rolex Cup. Plis Play (ESP, Swan 80), which also featured at the Rolex Volcano Race, is one of two Spanish entries. The other is Clem (Swan 56), which finished a close second in the Grand Prix class in 2010.

 

Two yachts that will be aiming to improve their 2010 results are the Italian Swan 65 Shirlaf and the German Swan 60 Emma. Both finished second in their respective classes (Classic and Maxi) two years ago. Shirlaf is one of a number of participating Swan 65s; the classic Sparkman & Stephens design won the inaugural Whitbread Round the World Race in 1974 and helped cement Nautor’s Swan’s legendary status in yachting’s firmament.

The Swan 43 Fidibù has the honour of representing the make’s homeland of Finland. Arriving from furthest afield appears to be the American crew on Constanter (Swan 62RS). The smallest participant at 11.66 metres (38 feet), Italian Swan 38 Only You is also one of the oldest, while the largest yacht attending is the 34.4-metre (112-foot) Swan Highland Breeze.

GERONIMO Swan 651  (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

GERONIMO Swan 651 (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

Five days of racing are scheduled on the revered waters of the Costa Smeralda and the Maddalena Archipelago. Competition will be fierce but refreshing, as regular competitor and President of Nautor’s Swan since 1998, Leonardo Ferragamo, explains: “The event has a unique spirit because it represents a love of boats and a desire to compete not just in any regatta, but in a regatta where there is uniformity in the competition. The feelings of friendship and good sportsmanship that characterize this regatta have grown over time.”

The regatta is organized by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda and concludes with a traditional prize-giving on the Piazza Azzura where winners of all four categories will be presented with a Rolex timepiece to crown their excellence on the water.

Ginger Swan 70 (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

Ginger Swan 70 (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

Perini Navi Maltese Falcon (Photo By George Bekris)

Perini Navi Maltese Falcon (Photo By George Bekris)

The Perini Navi Cup is a superyacht regatta restricted exclusively to Perini yachts that for a few days gather to challenge each other in the Mediterranean Sea.

After the first edition in 2004 Perini Navi Cups have been held in 2006 and 2009, the appointment for the fourth edition will take place between the 1st and 4th September 2011 in Porto Cervo, Sardinia, one of the most beautiful west mediterranean charter destination.
Yachts, over the years have come to be associated more with leisure and entertainment. But the performance yachts that sail and compete in a regatta can still generate so much excitement that it can get you hooked to sailing for life. The Perini Navi Cup, the annual super-luxe regatta in Sardinia is already gearing up to present a grand event that is better than the previous years in every which way. The event is still a few months away but some big ticket sponsors have already come on board and that’s why the organizers are confident that the regatta in Sardinia will be a super show this year.

The regatta will take place from September 1 to 4 in the waters around Porto Cervo. The event is dedicated to the world’s most stylish sailing superyachts. The format of the regatta has been marginally enlarged this year and an extra day of racing has been added to the original schedule. The participating yachts are all priceless beauties that are capable of outperforming the others if handled skillfully. If you calculate the value of all the yachts competing in the regatta it will add up to hundreds of millions of dollars. The megabucks Maltese Falcon will be there with the Lord Foster-designed Panthalassa and founder Fabio Perini’s own Elettra. Many other big names will be confirming their participation.
The sailing superyacht regatta is being organized under the auspices of the ultra-exclusive Yacht Club Costa Smeralda. The big name sponsors who are backing the event this year are Rolex, Audi and Champagne Pommery. There are several others who will be contributing to the success of the event. If you are passionate enough to want to participate, you can check the James list for some of the best yachts on sale.

Audi MedCup Sardinia (Photo © Carlo Borlenghi_Studio Borlenghi/Audi MedCup )

Audi MedCup Sardinia (Photo © Carlo Borlenghi_Studio Borlenghi/Audi MedCup )

Last year Cagliari, capital of the beautiful island of Sardinia, played host to the glittering finale of the 2010 Audi MedCup Circuit. The gulf of Cagliari was where the final battles were settled and the titles won.

When the 2011 Audi MedCup Circuit reaches Cagliari in one week’s time the shimmering waters and engaging mix of breezes will set the scene for the theoretical mid-point of the season, half way through the itinerary of five trophy regattas.

For many of the competitor’s in both the 52 Series and the 40 Series, the goal will be to simply keep on doing what they have been doing, making small improvements. Others still have considerable room for improvement.

Last season Quantum Racing (USA) arrived in Cagliari harbouring hopes of a late catch up on the champions elect Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL). This time the crew which is lead by America’s Cup winner Ed Baird are looking to preserve their 11 points lead at the top of the leaderboard.

“For sure our goal is to leave Cagliari having managed to increase our lead, but we would be pleased to finish with the same lead. Cagliari has consistently proven a tough place to race, we are hoping it will be a little easier than Marseille.” Explains Quantum Racing’s project manager Ed Reynolds (USA).

After finishing second to Germany’s Container, winners of the Marseille Trophy, Reynolds is clear that he was in no way disappointed in their team’s performance in France. “It is quite the opposite in fact. It is always hard at a venue like that to go in a leader, being leader is definitely more difficult. In fact we were happy for example with the three race day when we came in having put just 10 points on the board. We were really happy with that. As leader you just cannot afford to take the risks that others did on a race area like that. We were pleased to be quick but for me it is akin to watching the Tour de France at the moment and seeing how difficult it is to protect the yellow jersey, you cannot take the risks that others do to get up to you. In the end in Marseille we gave up one and a half points to one boat there and extended on the others. And you consider that if Audi All4ONE’s risky call on the final race had not paid off as it did we would have tied on points and won the regatta. It was that close.”

“Let us just say that are cautiously optimistic about Cagliari. We do a lot of work between regattas. One of the things about a box rule is that ‘pick your poison’. You will always be giving up some speed somewhere and you have to choose that area. Consistently we can see where we are strong but have been working hard on the little areas we have seen as exposures.”

A summer mix, changing targets.
High summer in Cagliari sees a really good mix of wind conditions and predominantly flat water. The sea breezes tend to wrap round the points into the big, deep U shaped bay and it is not unusual for the breezes to split and conflict on either side of the course. And the strong Mistral blows offshore from the head of the gulf, accelerating hard down the long miles of flat land to the north.

With a second and first in consecutive regattas Udo Schütz’s Rolf Vroijk designed Container has proven the class act which has so far pushed the American flagged world champions the hardest. But it will be the first time Markus Wieser (GER) has skippered his team at the tricky Sardinian venue but so successful have been their first outings in the class, perhaps the German flagged crew are setting their sights even higher: “We are more than happy so far with the outcomes of the first 52 Series regattas. We had set goals quite high at the start of the season, hoping to finish in the Top 3, but it worked out well for us twice already, so why should be we not change the target?” says Wieser.

“Our strength is the good team, working hard together and having a lot of fun. We have no internal pressure at all. It is so important to enjoy racing together if you want to be successful. You even need to have a laugh on board at times. We planned to do the whole Audi MedCup Circuit with the same crew, so no changes. Never change a winning team!”

Despite a difficult start to their campaign pre-season goals have not been modified much on board Audi Sailing Team powered by All4ONE, skippered by Germany’s multiple Olympic medallist Jochen Schümann. They hope to be much more competitive in Cagliari, a venue he now knows well: “Although you could not see it in the final ranking we really made a big step in Marseille compared to Cascais where we had speed problems with the new boat. To win a race and be so close to another bullet gives us so much more self confidence. We hope to build on that and climb the leaderboard from here.”

“Keeping up with our goal of top three for the 2011 Audi MedCup Circuit will be hard because we already lost many points in these first two events and it is not so likely the leaders will struggle in the future, but we still look to shoot for podium finishes in each regatta.”

In the 40 Series, two wins from two regattas highlights the consistency of the Iberdrola Sailing Team, but they have been pushed hard at each event by different teams: “Our boat is already in Cagliari and ready to go and the team have been racing in J80’s and Laser. Meantime we have been working how to optimise the sails, building a few new ones, something we are allowed to do after ten races. Part of our crew have raced in Cagliari and know they have sailed in tough 20-25 knots conditions.”

“It is evident that the other teams are all improving and it is getting closer. I think that if there was a point at which we had an advantage because of our preparation it is now gone.”

“Our goal for Cagliari is to win the Trophy and stay on top of the standings.” Recounts Iberdrola Sailing Team’s project manager Augustin Zulueta (ESP).”

Racing starts with the 52 Series Practice Race Tuesday, points racing from Wednesday, while the 40 Series Practice Race is on Wednesday and their points racing starts Thursday.

Follow all the racing live on Audi MedCup TV on www.medcup.org.

Audi MedCup

Iberdrola Region of Sardinia Trophy © Stefano Gattini_Studio Borlenghi/Audi MedCup

ROMA - ANIENE, Yacht Name: ITA 535, Nation: ITA, Owner: C.C.Aniene / F.Faruffini, SAUDADE, Yacht Name: N/A, Nation: MLT, Owner: Albert Buell, Model: Wally (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi )

ROMA - ANIENE, Yacht Name: ITA 535, Nation: ITA, Owner: C.C.Aniene / F.Faruffini, SAUDADE, Yacht Name: N/A, Nation: MLT, Owner: Albert Buell, Model: Wally (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi )

With an active racing season well underway, a fleet of top maxi yachts have committed to being in Porto Cervo to compete at the 2010 Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup. The event is a favourite gathering for these competitive and striking sailing craft, which will meet off Sardinia’s spectacular Costa Smeralda from 5 – 11 September.

2010 marks the 21st edition of this annual autumn gathering and, as usual, the international fleet will comprise a mix of the latest launches and those well known on the racing circuit. The regatta features some of the most impressive sailing yachts in the world. The primary limitation on entry is length: minimum rather than maximum – all yachts must be over 18.29-metres (60-feet) in length. This year the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup forms the final act in the 2010 Rolex IMA Championship series and also includes the inaugural World Championship for the Mini Maxi fleet.

The list of returnees is strong, with a good showing of the gargantuan supermaxis, including the 45-metre Saudade (MLT) and Salperton (CAY), and Hasso Plattner’s 44-metre Visione (GER), as well as the stunning classic-looking 42-metre J-Class, Ranger.

Back to defend their 2009 Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup division titles are Neville Crichton’s Shockwave (ex-Alfa Romeo 3) (NZL), Niklas Zennstrom’s Rán (GBR), Michael Cotton’s Whisper (IRL), and Claus-Peter Offen’s Y3K (GER).

Crichton, who has previously found success with a string of larger maxis, is a strong contender for the Mini Maxi Rolex World Championship. He will be helming the Reichel/Pugh-designed 21.8-metre Shockwave, with Stu Ballantyne and Ian Moore in the afterguard. Crichton says, “we think that this will be a very close event with any of five boats able to win. I would pick, though, Rán as our biggest challenger. Our crew is largely unchanged from the Giraglia Rolex Cup and that result shows what we can achieve (1st IRC overall; 1st Mini Maxi Racing). This event is one that I always look forward to because the racing conditions in Porto Cervo are, quite simply, some of the best and most challenging in the world.”

The Mini Maxi Rolex Worlds are open to all maxi boats between 18.29-metres (60-feet) and 24.08-metres (79-feet) in length, but for the World Championship Trophy itself there is a strict owner/driver requirement. Zennstrom’s Rán has been on an impressive roll over the past year with a division win in the 2009 Rolex Sydney Hobart Race, overall win at the 2010 Onion Patch Series and a class win in the 2010 Newport Bermuda Race. Zennstrom, who will be helming Rán, is looking forward to some very close racing in his class, “this is the one regatta where the Mini Maxi fleet comes together and the one everyone is well prepared for and wants to win. All boats have become more competitive this year, so anyone can win. Porto Cervo is one of the best sailing venues in Europe so it should be a very exciting week.”

WHISPER, Yacht Name: IRL 77777, Nation: IRL, Owner: Michael Cotter, Model: Souithern Wind ( Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi )

WHISPER, Yacht Name: IRL 77777, Nation: IRL, Owner: Michael Cotter, Model: Souithern Wind ( Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi )

Along the way, Rán and her crew have been trading wins with another aspirant for the world title, Hap Fauth’s Bella Mente (USA), which has enjoyed a skilful season with class wins at Key West Race Week, New York Yacht Club Annual Regatta; 2nd in class in the Newport Bermuda Race, and an Overall Team win in the Onion Patch Series. The top boats in the Mini Maxi fleet are constantly being tweaked to find that extra bit of speed. Bella Mente is no exception. She underwent modifications in 2009, changing the hull shape and reducing displacement, dramatically transforming the potential of the 21-metre sloop.

The process of refinement is ongoing and, last winter, Bella Mente’s chain plates were moved and the spreaders enlarged. Fauth acknowledges this attention to detail is part of what it takes to stay ahead, “it’s an impressive international fleet. Shockwave, Alegre (GBR), Rán, and Bella Mente are very closely matched speed- and rating-wise. We have a rivalry with all of them — there are a lot of very competitive, extraordinary, highly skilled sailors involved. It’s always a privilege to sail with this fleet.”

Another American racing Mini Maxi is Titan XV, the 22.90-metre (75-foot) Reichel/Pugh design launched last year by Tom Hill. Bill Koch, winner of the 1992 America’s Cup, has chartered Titan XV for this regatta. Koch is no stranger to the Maxi class, but it has been 20 years since his revolutionary Matador 2 broke onto the scene winning all races she entered, including the Maxi Worlds in 1990 (a series contested in Newport, Miami, and the US Virgin Islands.) and 1991 (Saint-Tropez and Porto Cervo). Koch will be helming Titan XV with New Zealander Gavin Brady calling tactics and some of Koch’s America’s Cup teammates as crew.

Until recently, Koch had been competing in the 12-Metre class circuit with KZ7/Kiwi Magic, but eventually tired of the racing. At the time Koch was thinking, “maybe I’ll just get out of sailing and spend my time on my ranch with my kids. But, each time I get on the water I find I love it. So, when Peter (Grubb, project manager for Koch), suggested I might try one of the mini maxis because they’re fun and they go fast, I said ‘I’ll give it a try and charter a boat. And if I really like it, I’ll buy one.’ It’ll be fun and to have my crew back from the America’s Cup and maxis keeps the friendships going.”

Each year the Mini Maxi category continues to gain in numbers and level of competition. Once again this type of maxi will comprise half of the 44-boat fleet currently entered at the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup. Not all are stripped out racing machines. One newcomer is Alessandro Rombelli’s 21-metre Judel Vroljk-designed Baltic 65, launched this year. Stig (ITA) was conceived with both racing and cruising in mind. It has a full interior and a telescopic lifting keel that cleverly does not influence or limit the cabin arrangements. Rombelli is more usually seen racing something smaller, in the Melges 20 circuit. For this event, he will be sailing with Lorenzo Bressani on board as tactician, “we put a lot of effort in the thinking and designing of Stig and it will be a pleasure to see it participating among some very fast and beautiful boats.”

The Mini Maxi Rolex World Championship will include eight windward/leeward races and one coastal race of no more than 150 nautical miles. Four races are required to award the World Championship title.

Elsewhere in the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup fleet, there are plenty of yachts to watch out for. The Adrian Konyendyk designed and McConaghy of Sydney built 24.5-metre (80-foot) sloop-rigged Singularity (GBR), launched in January this year, arrived in the Mediterranean in mid-June. Volvo Ocean Race veteran, Bouwe Bekking is the racing skipper/helmsman. According to Bekking, “Singularity is as close to a racing yacht with a full cruising interior as you can get. She was built with speed in mind and one of the key requisites throughout the design and build process was to find optimum weight-reducing solutions, but without completely compromising the ability to cruise.” With a Design Unlimited interior proving her luxury credentials, Singularity will certainly make a mark.

The Wally class will be well represented and includes Irvine Laidlaw’s Wally 82 Highland Fling (MON), launched in 2009 and making her debut at the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup. Lindsay Owen Jones’ Magic Carpet 2 (GBR) is back for another tilt at the title he has won three times, whilst the 100-footers, Y3K and Dark Shadow (GBR) are joined by Andrea Recordati’s brand-new Indio (ITA).

Two elegant Swan 90s will also be on hand, Leonardo Ferragamo’s Solleone (ITA) and Danilo Salsi’s flush-decked racer DSK Pioneer Investments (ITA).

The Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup 2010, organised by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda takes place from 5 to 11 September. Racing commences on Monday, 6 September and concludes on Saturday, 11 September. Yacht Club Costa Smeralda, along with title sponsor Rolex, will provide a lavish array of first class social events each evening that will include the International Maxi Association Dinner, Rolex Crew Party, Rolex Gala Dinner, and Saturday’s final Prize giving Ceremony, where the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cups and Rolex timepieces will be awarded to the overall winner of each Division.

From the most luxurious, the most traditional, to the most advanced monohulls afloat today, the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup is nothing if not an astonishing line-up of sail power.

Luna Rossa (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi )

Luna Rossa (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi )

emirates-team-new-zealand-in-auckland

Emirates Team New Zealand (Photo by Paul Todd / outsideimages.co.nz / Louis Vuitton Trophy, Auckland - New Zealand)

The Louis Vuitton Trophy is coming to Sardinia in May, with 10 elite sailing teams set to race for two weeks on the sparkling waters of the Mediterranean Sea off La Maddalena.

 

© Paul Todd/outsideimages.co.nz | Louis Vuitton Trophy

With just one month to go before racing begins on May 22nd, the host team, Mascalzone Latino Audi Team, is eager to extend a warm welcome to teams, sponsors and guests alike.

“La Maddalena is among the best places in the world to sail,” said Vincenzo Onorato, the team principal of Mascalzone Latino Audi Team. “The waters are warm, the wind conditions are very good and the people of La Maddalena will be gracious hosts. I want to welcome all of my sailing friends and fans of the sport to join us here in May.”

The Louis Vuitton Trophy – La Maddalena follows two successful regattas in Auckland (February 2010) and Nice (November 2009) over the past six months. Further events are planned in Dubai in November and Hong Kong in January of 2011.

For La Maddalena, two additional teams will join the eight who competed in Auckland, and both are world-class sailing squads. BMW ORACLE Racing, who won the America’s Cup Match in February, rejoins the Louis Vuitton Trophy after it missed the Auckland regatta due to its Cup commitments.

Luna Rossa, which has competed for the America’s Cup three times, winning the Louis Vuitton Cup in 2000, will race for the Louis Vuitton Trophy for the very first time, after sailing in a precursor event, the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series in 2009. Luna Rossa has assembled an impressive crew, including skipper Ed Baird, winner of the 32nd America’s Cup with Alinghi and tactician Torben Grael, who skippered Ericsson to a win in the last Volvo Ocean Race.

The addition of Luna Rossa will make for three Italian teams in La Maddalena, including Azzurra, the winning team in the Nice event. Also on the start list is the champion from Auckland, Emirates Team New Zealand. The full line-up for La Maddalena is 10 teams, representing eight countries:

Aleph, FRA, skipper Bertrand Pacé
All4One, FRA/GER, skipper Jochen Schümann
Artemis, SWE, skipper Paul Cayard
Azzurra, ITA, skipper Francesco Bruni
BMW ORACLE Racing, USA, skipper James Spithill
Emirates Team New Zealand, NZL, skipper Dean Barker
Luna Rossa, ITA, skipper Ed Baird
Mascalzone Latino Audi Team, ITA, skipper Gavin Brady
Synergy, RUS, skipper Karol Jablonski
TEAMORIGIN, GBR, skipper Ben Ainslie
In the Louis Vuitton Trophy regattas, the teams match-race equalised America’s Cup Class boats. For La Maddalena, the boats will be supplied by BMW ORACLE Racing (USA 87 and USA 98) and Mascalzone Latino Audi Team (ITA 90 and ITA 99).

La Maddalena is small town (population near 12 000) on an island with the same name that sits just one nautical mile off the Northeast coast of Sardinia. It is renowned for its beaches and its pink, rocky terrain and like Sardinia itself, offers up some of the most stunning backdrops for sailing in the Mediterranean.

The race village itself is set up about one kilometre to the east of the centre of town, near the southeast corner of the island. The heart of the race village will feature a big screen broadcasting all of the action from the race course. Crews will be in the race village interacting with the crowds during photo sessions, autograph signings and public press conferences. Food and beverage as well as team merchandise is also available, and the Louis Vuitton Junior Trophy will be contested by local junior sailors.

The easiest way to get to La Maddalena is to fly into Olbia’s Costa Smeralda airport (many flights transfer through Rome) and then transfer by road to Palau, approximately 40 kilometres to the north of Olbia. From Palau, there is a short ferry to La Maddalena. Alternatively, there are ferries into Palau from Corsica as well as Genoa and Napoli.

Racing is scheduled from the 22nd May through the 6th June. But teams will start official training sessions on the 18th May.

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!”