The 33rd edition of the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup kicked off today with the skipper’s briefing, followed by the traditional welcome cocktail on the terrace at the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda.
The regatta, which is open to boats measuring more than 60 feet (18.30 metres) in length, is organised by the YCCS with the support of title sponsor Rolex and the International Maxi Association (IMA).
A fleet of almost 50 maxi yachts (48 to be precise) are currently lined up on the docks of Porto Cervo, ready to do battle from tomorrow, Monday 4th September, in what is a unique sailing regatta, both in terms of the level of the boats and crews, and the backdrop to racing provided by the La Maddalena archipelago.
The varied fleet taking part ranges from Baruna, a classic yacht of almost 22 metres launched in 1938 and which has recently undergone major restoration works to return her to her full splendour, to the debut of the latest launch from Wally Yachts, the new 101-foot Y3K (30.8 metres). Three multihulls will also be taking part in the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup for the first time ever, alongside a group of spectacular J Class yachts, measuring 40 metres in length and weighing in at over 100 tonnes.
The yachts have been grouped into classes according to type and performance characteristics. Within each class, times will as always be compensated based on the specific rating of each boat, while the Race Committee will choose daily courses best suited to the features of each class. The entire fleet will complete coastal races around the islands of the archipelago, but some classes will also have the opportunity to put their abilities to the test, along with those of the professional crews on board, on windward-leeward courses. The Race Committee will give an individual start for each of the six classes: Maxi A, Maxi B, Maxi C, Supermaxi, J-Class and Multihull.
The Supermaxi Class groups together the largest hulls in the fleet, designed for sailing in the utmost comfort, with performances distinctly different to those of the pure maxi racers. This class includes the Spirit 111 Geist, the custom-designed Inoui, the Swan 115 Moat, the Maxi Dolphin 118 Viriella and the Wally 101 Y3K on her debut outing.
The division of the Maxi Class into A, B and C from this year is based on the IRC ratings of the yachts and replaces the former Maxi and Mini Maxi classes.
The Maxi A Class features the fastest of the participating yachts, including the 100-foot Black Jack from Australia, the WallyCento yachts Magic Carpet Cubed, Galateia and V, the Wally 93 Bullitt, the ClubSwan 80 My Song, and the Botin 85 Deep Blue with owner-driver Wendy Schmidt at the helm, whose 11th Hour Racing team won the last edition of The Ocean Race.
A host of pure racers populate the Maxi B class, including the former Maxi 72 Class yachts – now reconfigured and sometimes slightly elongated – Bella Mente, Cannonball, Jethou, North-Star and Proteus, as well as the two 65s Ambersail and Sisi, and the Wally 82 Django HF (formerly Highland Fling XI). This class boasts many professional yachtsmen with impressive curriculums, from Terry Hutchinson, tactician on Bella Mente and skipper of American Magic for the upcoming 37th America’s Cup, to his eternal rival, Italy’s Vasco Vascotto, tactician on Cannonball and fresh from victory in the Rolex TP52 World Championship on Platoon.
Proteus and Bella Mente crossing – photo © Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi
All of the yachts competing in Porto Cervo can be counted on to have sailing superstars on board, with names such as Adam Beashel on Black Jack, Murray Jones on Galateia, Brad Butterworth on Jethou, Mitch Booth on Leopard 3, Jochen Schuemann on Magic Carpet, Guillermo Parada on Moat, Morgan Larsson on Proteus, and Ken Read on V. The Italian contingent, meanwhile, includes Francesco De Angelis on Cannonball, Tommaso Chieffi on Django HF, ‘Ganga’ Bruni on Grande Orazio, Alberto Bolzan on My Song, Andrea Casale on Re/Max One 2, and Mauro Pelaschier on Viriella, to name but a few.
The Maxi C Class, the largest with 16 boats, is composed of yachts belonging to the sub-classes Maxi 3, 4 and 5. These range from first-time competitor Open Season, a Baltic 60, to the Southern Wind 82 Grande Orazio, and from the Vallicelli 80 H2O, to Wallyño, owned by IMA President Benoit de Froidmont. Baruna of 1938, the Starkel 64 Stella Maris and the Dehler 60 Blue Oyster will also race in the Maxi C Class.
Both the J Class and Multihull Class will field three yachts each, all outstanding boats with crews composed of multi-award winning sailors. Peter Holmberg will be helming the J Class Topaz, supported by Andy Horton on tactics and Cole Parada in the role of strategist. Bouwe Bekking will be calling tactics on the J Class Svea, while on Velsheda the strategist will be iconic America’s Cup veteran Grant Simmer. The catamarans of the Multihull class are no less well-staffed, with world sailing speed record-holder Paul Larsen on Allegra, while the crew of Convexity 2 owned by Don Wilson, winner of the 2021 World Championship in the competitive M32 Class, will include match racer Taylor Canfield, Chris Nicolson, and Charlie Enright, winning skipper of The Ocean Race. Highland Fling 18 will be able to draw on the expertise of multihull expert Loick Peyron and the tactical skill of New Zealander Cameron Appleton.
Returning to shore after each day at sea, participants in the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup will enjoy a variety of social events, from post-race refreshments to dinners reserved for owners, with the Rolex Gala Dinner to be held on September 7, and the Crew Party taking place the following day.
“Fair winds to everyone taking part in the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, thank you for attending this regatta in such great numbers. Change is a constant in the world of yachting, and continuous evolution has been the key to the success of the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, right from the first edition in 1980 up to the present day. The inclusion of multihulls fits perfectly with this perspective, a natural development of an event that has always been characterised by cutting-edge technology. Opening up to other categories allows owners to continue to pursue their passion and may inspire others to do so.” commented Michael Illbruck, Commodore of the YCCS.
For the 33rd Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda will use robotic MarkSetBot buoys that hold their position thanks to a GPS system combined with an electric motor, eliminating the need for anchors on the seabed.
The first starting signal will sound at 12 noon on Monday, 4th September, with wind forecast from the north-east of approximately 10-12 knots.
More information at www.yccs.it
by Yacht Club Costa Smeralda