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)






2011 NYYC Annual Regatta The S Boat - Osprey (Photo by Dan Nerney/New York Yacht Club))

2011 NYYC Annual Regatta The S Boat - Osprey (Photo by Dan Nerney/New York Yacht Club)


The premature arrival of spring fever and the confluence of major sailing events scheduled for the summer of 2012 has created an upbeat mood among sailing enthusiasts in New England’s sailing Mecca of Newport, R.I..  The “City by the Sea” will display her iconic charm during the high profile events to hit the waves of Narragansett Bay – including the America’s Cup World Series and a tall ships extravaganza – starting first with the oldest and longest-running regatta in America:  New York Yacht Club’s Annual Regatta presented by Rolex.  From June 8-10, the 158th edition of the race will continue a historic legacy that has only been interrupted by war.

The historic nature of the event also extends to the regatta entry list that is currently led by Argument, the Herreshoff S-boat owned by Stephan Sloan (E. Greenwich, R.I.).  The oldest one-design class still actively racing, the 27-foot wooden S-boats first splashed in 1919.  Roughly 100 were built and the original boats still racing, with their high ratio of sail area to wetted surface, display the vintage style that delights photographers and casual observers alike, not to mention those who race them and appreciate the boat’s high performance.  Fast in light wind due to the large sail area, a full lead keel keeps the craft stable in strong breeze.  Requiring an experienced crew to coordinate handling spinnaker lines, halyards, running backstays and sheets simultaneously, the design – like the Annual Regatta – has stood the test of time.

Sloan conservatively expects that as many as nine of the classic S-boats will participate in NYYC’s Annual Regatta.  Having owned Argument for five years with his sister, Sloan has previously raced her in NYYC’s Annual Regatta and is looking forward to this 158th edition.  “It’s the start of the season for us,” said Sloan.  “The Around the Island Race is a real draw for us as it is great fun and a good start to the season.  It’s also a home-club regatta for me and being at Harbour Court is a chance for great get-togethers.”

The S-boats are among the yachts eligible to compete in the 19-nautical mile Around the Island Race that is the first segment of the “regatta within a regatta” format that constitutes NYYC’s Annual Regatta presented by Rolex.  Taking place on Friday, June 8, the Around the Island Race is scored separately, with a Rolex timepiece presented to the overall winning yacht in the IRC division during evening festivities at NYYC’s Harbour Court.

On Saturday and Sunday, June 9-10, the S-boats will race in the traditional two-day series as part of the Green fleet along with Classic, 12 Metre, 6 Metre and smaller one-design classes.  IRC and larger one-design classes will be accommodated in the Blue and White fleets, and all three fleets will have one or two races each day, separately sailed and scored.  PHRF and non-spinnaker IRC classes will race as the Red fleet and will sail one “Navigator” race each day using government and racing marks on the southern part of Narragansett Bay.  Staged as an ideal fit for cruising yachts entered in the Newport Bermuda Race, the relaxed format of the Navigator race offers competitors in that biennial race a low-key tune up before undertaking that classic distance race.

Among the IRC yachts that will compete in NYYC’s Annual Regatta presented by Rolex is Invictus, the TP-52 formerly known as Samba Pa Ti, which is raced by the U.S. Naval Academy’s Varsity Offshore Sailing Team.

“We will have seven 4th Class (freshmen), five 3rd Class (sophomores) and two 2nd Class (juniors) including myself and two coaches,” said Ralph Duffett, currently a 2nd Class Midshipman at the Academy, detailing the  makeup of the 15 to 16 people who will be in the crew, all with varying experience.  “In my opinion the greatest part of our program is our ability to take freshmen and sophomores with relatively less experience and over a fall season of learning basic skills and knowledge of tactics and strategy, followed by a spring season of more hands-on and offshore training, and field winning crews on several different types of boats in all of the regattas we participate in.”

“The thing I am looking forward to the most is the Around the Island Race,” continued Duffett, explaining that he has sailed on Invictus in the past two NYYC Annual Regattas (2010 and 2011).  “After a spring of training it is our first point-to-point race and is a good way to test all the skills we have been honing all season.  In my eyes it is an iconic start of the Annual Regatta.  Even though it is scored separately, its navigational difficulty as well as the nature of the race gets everyone geared up for the rest of the regatta.”

Invictus, like other IRC yachts, will use the Annual Regatta as a tune-up prior to the start of the Newport Bermuda Race, before also competing in the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club Anniversary Regatta.  The three events together constitute the Onion Patch Series, with the first race completed on Saturday and Sunday during NYYC’s Annual Regatta counting toward this series.

About The NYYC Annual Regatta Presented by Rolex

The tradition of the Annual Regatta began at the New York Yacht Club’s original clubhouse in Hoboken, N.J., in 1845, during its second year of existence.  Racing for the NYYC Annual Regatta presented by Rolex takes place on Narragansett Bay and Rhode Island Sound, with daily awards and social activities at Harbour Court, NYYC’s on-the-water clubhouse in Newport, R.I.

Part of the 2012 Gulf Stream Series and the first event in the NYYC Classic Yacht Series, NYYC’s Annual Regatta presented by Rolex is open to yachts with a minimum length overall of 25 feet.  The entry deadline is June 4.  For a full list of entries and additional information, including registration, please visit the Annual Regatta event page on New York Yacht Club’s website at