The Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, the Mediterranean yachting event, which throughout its long history has inspired a string of superlatives, is set to scale new heights in 2016.
Taking place from 4 – 10 September, the tally of 53 participants at the 27th edition of this highly anticipated annual gathering has set aficionados aquiver.
This year’s fleet will surpass the previous record for participation (49 competing yachts in 2010). With the average size of the yachts nudging 28 metres (90 feet), if the entrants lined up bow to stern they would measure a little under 1,425 metres (0.9 of a statute mile). For an event that has always been breathtaking in magnitude, these are seriously impressive numbers — proof positive of the continuing passion within the sport to push the boundaries of design, technology and knowledge.
The largest yacht in this year’s fleet is the 49.6 metre Ohana, designed by the late Ed Dubois, built by Fitzroy Yachts of New Zealand and weighing a spectacular 370 tonnes. Ohana overshadows her nearest rival, the contrasting replica J Class Lionheart, by some six metres and 2016 marks her debut appearance at the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup.
First held in 1980, this exceptional event is organized by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda (YCCS) in conjunction with the International Maxi Association (IMA). Rolex has been title sponsor of the ultimate gathering of Maxis since 1985, and enjoys a proud and rich affinity with both host yacht club and the class.
The Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup is recognized and revered as a showcase for the latest trends in large monohull yacht design and technology. The five principal classes of Maxi (defined as yachts that are 18.29 metres/60 feet or over) will be on display and this year’s fleet includes craft designed by some of the sport’s most respected designers, leaders in their field and, like Rolex, renowned for unparalleled savoir-faire in their area of expertise.
Power, elegance and timelessness
There are eleven Supermaxis – yachts in excess of 30.5 metres (100 feet) in length. Examples will feature some of the most recent launches. The Swan 115s Highland Fling and Solleone – both designed by German Frers and built by the legendary Nautor’s Swan – were unveiled in 2016 and 2015 respectively.
Nikata, designed by Judel/Vrolijk and Co and built by another respected Finnish yard, Baltic Yachts, is similarly 35-metres of custom carbon engineering. The elegantly powerful and timeless lines of these Supermaxis hide a world of luxury below deck. Marco Voegele and the crew of the 2015 class winner Inoui, designed by Philippe Briand and built by Vitters Shipyard in the Netherlands, will have a challenging task ahead of them to defend the class title.
The Maxi division, populated by yachts between 24.08 metres (80 feet) and 30.5 metres (100 feet), has nine entrants, including last year’s winner, Michael Cotter’s Reichel-Pugh-designed Windfall, launched in South Africa in 2013. Ammonite, owned by Australian Marcus Blackmore and whose naval architecture is by Farr Yacht Design, was also built in South Africa.
Ammonite’s maiden voyage earlier this year was the 7,000-mile passage from Cape Town to Porto Cervo. Other yachts to look out for in this highly charged class are Mike Slade’s Leopard 3, another interpretation from Farr, and George David’s Rambler 88, from the pen of design luminary Juan Kouyoumdjian. Both owners and their crews boast enviable pedigree in the yacht-racing world.
Pursuit of perfection
The Maxi 72 is an all-out racing yacht. During the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, these impressive craft, professionally crewed and driven by their passionate owners, leave nothing behind in their pursuit of perfection. Six closely-matched thoroughbreds will be competing for their World Championship as well as a Rolex timepiece, the traditional reward for excellence on the water.
Defending champion Bella Mente, designed by Judel/Vrolijk and owned by Hap Fauth from the United States, comes to the event fresh from a triumphant appearance at the Copa del Rey in July. As the centrepiece of the class’s season, the Rolex Maxi 72 Worlds title will most likely be decided on the outcome of the last race. Given recent history, perhaps even the final leg of the final race.
The largest single class at the 2016 Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup is reserved for Wally yachts, with a total of thirteen entries. Renowned for their position at the forefront of innovation and advancement in the sailing industry over the past 22 years, Wallys are defined by futuristic lightweight technology and striking lines. Much of the attention will be focused on the Reichel/Pugh designed Wallycento Galateia launched in late 2015.
Competing for the first time at the event, she will face a baptism of fire. Magic Carpet Cubed, another Wallycento from the same design-house, and Y3K, owned by former IMA President Claus-Peter Offen, have both been regular winners in recent years. 2015 class winner Open Season will not let her crown slip easily; yet another fleet where competition is expected to go to the wire.
Some of the smallest participants will be in the Mini Maxi fleet, where yachts between 18.29 metres and 24.08m compete. Size, however, is no indication of competitiveness. The racing will be just as intense in this class as it is in any other. Success will be determined by the preparation, performance and commitment of the crews. 2015 class winner H20 returns, endeavouring to recapture the height reached last season.
Top class yachts, top class organization
As the yachts competing at the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup have evolved in size, speed and competitive performance, so too has the race management developed. The Yacht Club Costa Smeralda race team is one of the most respected in the sailing world, reflecting the commitment of the club to offer the highest quality in all facets of its activities.
As the crown in sailing for over 50 years, Rolex is extremely proud of its longstanding association with the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda and its flagship Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup. The partnership is founded on shared principles of excellence, performance and prestige, values also displayed by the designers, owners and crew who bring the competition to life.