For 40 years the appeal of the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup has been unquestionable.
On the water, the level of competition is of the highest order and supported by the finest race management. The racecourses are some of the most challenging and spectacular in sailing, offering an unrivalled combination of conditions and scenery. Beyond the racing, the event is both a proving ground and a showcase for the latest developments in the upper echelons of the sport.
The Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup returns for its 31st edition from 5-11 September 2021. Rolex has enjoyed a close partnership with both the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda (YCCS) and its principal regatta since 1985. The relationship has been defined from the outset by a shared desire to deliver the highest standards of excellence.
Open to yachts upwards of 18.29 metres (60 feet) in length, the entry list features a selection of the world’s fastest, most powerful and impressive monohulls. Rolex Testimonee and four-time Olympic gold medallist Sir Ben Ainslie, a past competitor, highlights the event’s alignment with Rolex:
“From a sporting perspective, precision is core to overall performance in sailing and this is no more so than at the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup where there is a natural link with Rolex through the desire to push technology, innovation and sailing skill.”
Five days of competition are scheduled, offering a programme of primarily coastal races that allow the fleet to take on some of the world’s most impressive, natural racecourses. Located off the YCCS’s stunning headquarters in Porto Cervo, Sardinia, the action unfolds in the alluring waters of the Costa Smeralda and is set against the wild, rocky islands and islets of the Maddalena archipelago.
Big wind and flat water are two of the most alluring features for yacht racing off Porto Cervo © Carlo Borlenghi
The fleet, typically upwards of 40 international entries, is divided into classes organized by type, size and potential. This ensures close, engrossing competition between entrants of similar characteristics. Categories include Mini Maxi, Maxi and Supermaxis, the grouping for the largest yachts in excess of 30.48 metres (100 feet). The primary objective for all crews is to emerge triumphant from their division, a goal that requires immense, unwavering sense of purpose. Only with the strongest will, the keenest experience and a sharp intuition can crews succeed.
The Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup is the very essence of superlative yacht racing. The environment, the organization, the yachts and the participants are all exceptional. The crews comprise the world’s foremost sailors, a veritable who’s who of the yachting world. Even for those accustomed to success, victory at the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup remains a significant achievement.
Magic Carpet Cubed, Sail n: GBR 1001 R, Nation: GBR, Owner: Sir Lindsay Owen Jones, Length: 30,50, Model: Wallycento GALATEIA, Sail n: CAY1002, Nation: CI, Owner: Switchback Marine, Length: 30,45, Model: Wally cento – photo © Luca Butto
Another Rolex Testimonee, United States sailing legend Paul Cayard, has competed at the event for more than 30 years and emphasizes its superior standing in the sailing community:
“The Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup is an example of how a sponsor and a yacht club can come together, create a long-term relationship and live through all of the evolutions required to remain at the top.”
Paul Cayard is one of the world’s finest yachtsmen, excelling in a range of disciplines from the America’s Cup to round the world racing – photo © Alexandre de Brabant
Among the entries for the 2021 edition are yachts with outstanding pedigree at Rolex-partnered events. Hap Fauth’s Maxi 72 Bella Mente is a multiple winner of this regatta, Comanche is the race record holder at the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, George David’s Rambler has won line honours at the Rolex Fastnet Race, Rolex Middle Sea Race and Rolex Giraglia, while Sir Lindsay Owen-Jones’s Magic Carpet Cubed is a Rolex Giraglia line honours and overall race winner. The largest registered entrant is Topaz, a recent build of a 1935 J-Class design, measuring 42.7m (140 ft)
Given the quality of the people and yachts, the margins between success and failure on the water are minute. Excellence is not a simple aspiration it is a demand. Rolex is proud to have been associated with the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup since its early years, an event that upholds the tenets of its own philosophy and Perpetual spirit: adapting to the elements, constantly seeking to improve and summoning one’s deepest resources.
The crew of Jethou Hike Hard As the Mini Maxi Racer heads upwind – photo © Carlo Borlenghi
by Virginie Chevailler