Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup 2021. Photo credit: Rolex/Studio Borlenghi
50 entries taking part in 32nd edition of Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup
The 32nd edition of the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup officially kicked off today with the skippers' briefing and Welcome cocktail on the terrace of the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda. The regatta is organised by the YCCS in collaboration with the IMA (International Maxi Association) and with the support of long-standing title sponsor Rolex.
The first starting signal is scheduled to sound tomorrow, Monday 5 September, at 12 midday, and the event will conclude on Saturday 10 September with the prize giving ceremony in Piazza Azzurra, in front of the YCCS. Forecasts for the week indicate light breezes for the first part of the event, with a mistral wind moving in from Friday and expected to strengthen for Saturday.
The fleet of 50 maxi yachts - defined as having a minimum length of 18.3 metres/60 feet - present this year in Porto Cervo is particularly significant not only due to the sheer number of boats present, but also due to the extremely high level of the boats and crews taking part. Each of the participants has the potential to take home the silverware in one of the six classes that the fleet has been divided into to take account of the diversity of the vessels, which range from pure racers to yachts equipped for comfortable cruising. A sort of handicap rating is assigned to each boat, and scores are then styled based on compensated time.
The yachts lined up in front of the YCCS embody the pinnacle of great yachting from the1930s, with the J Class Velsheda, through to the cutting edge of current innovation and naval architecture, with the racing debut of the first ever foiling mini-maxi, Roberto Lacorte's FlyingNikka, and the ClubSwan 80 My Song owned by YCCS member Pier Luigi Loro Piana. Crewing these boats, representing the forefront of yachting technology in their respective eras, is a small army of professional sailors which includes Olympic medal-winning athletes alongside America's Cup winners and Ocean Race yachtsmen, world champions in top classes such as the Star, and seasoned veterans of the great offshore regattas on the most celebrated of maxi racers.
Among the many top names attending are Luna Rossa helmsman Francesco "Checco" Bruni, tactician on board the Wally 93 Bullitt; match race champion, America’s Cup sailor and Finn class Olympic silver medallist Peter Holmberg at the helm of the J Class Topaz; fellow America's Cup veteran Brad Butterworth calling tactics on the maxi racer Rambler 88; Ocean Race veterans Bouwe Bekking and Matthew Humphries on the J Class Svea, and the Southern Wind 90 All Smoke respectively; Tommaso Chieffi, tactician on board Twin Soul B; Ken Read and Roberto ‘Chuny’ Bermudez on My Song; Cameron Appleton, on Highland Fling XI, Flavio Favini and Tiziano Nava on Capricorno, and Mauro Pelaschier on Viriella, owned by YCCS member Vittorio Moretti, to name but a few. The level is also particularly high in the Mini Maxi 1 division, where Italians Vasco Vascotto, Alberto Bolzan, Michele Ivaldi and Bruno Zirilli on Cannonball, owned by YCCS member Dario Ferrari, will be up against the afterguard of Bella Mente, in the form of Terry Hutchinson, skipper of the New York Yacht Club America’s Cup challenge American Magic, together with Adrian Stead and Ian Moore.
The racing schedule, which varies across the different classes, includes both coastal races in the archipelago of La Maddalena – a spectacular setting that is just one of the reasons many maxi owners return to Porto Cervo year after year - and windward-leeward races for the divisions made up of true racing thoroughbreds. While the competitive aspect of the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup is undoubtedly of the utmost importance, the event is also a firm favourite with owners and crews thanks to the social programme back on land, including the renowned owners' dinner offered by partner Rolex.
YCCS Commodore Michael Illbruck welcomed competitors with these words: “Every year in September, the best yachts sailed by some of the best sailors in the world meet in Porto Cervo at the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup because here they have the opportunity to measure themselves against peers in a highly competitive sporting context. The YCCS is fortunate to be able to host such a large fleet of top-class yachts and this is thanks also to our race courses, which are unique in the world. These are the reasons why the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup is an unmissable event. I thank Rolex for their long-standing partnership and wish fair winds to all competitors.”