The 24th Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup is set to take place from 1-7 September with a quality line up ready to contest.
RÁN 2 (GBR), took the spoils in her class on the first day of racing - 2012 Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup
Thirty-seven international crews are expected to descend on Porto Cervo, Sardinia for the high-class annual competition organized by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda (YCCS) and the International Maxi Association (IMA). Rolex has been title sponsor since 1985.
Thirteen yachts are currently registered for the fourth Mini Maxi Rolex World Championship, open to boats measuring from 60 to 78-feet. This includes the two 72-ft former winners of the competition: Niklas Zennstrom’s Rán 2 (GBR), triumphant in 2010 and 2011, and defending champion Hap Fauth’s Bella Mente (USA). Both fresh from competing virtually side-by-side in the Rolex Fastnet Race.
This year they have an new adversary. Andres Soriano has a fine track record in the Mini Maxi class. His latest Alegre (GBR), also a Mark Mills design but 4-ft longer than her predecessor, made her offshore debut at the Giraglia Rolex Cup. Other expected frontrunners are Alessandro Rombelli’s ever-improving Italian entry Stig, the 2013 Rolex Volcano Race winner Caol Ila R (USA) and Shockwave (USA), owned and helmed by George Sakellaris.
Bella Mente, with owner Hap Fauth at the helm, during the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup 2012 where the team won the Mini Maxi World Championship.
The Mini Maxi Rolex Worlds is only part of the week’s attraction. In among the high-tech carbon-fibre speed machines of the 21st century, a poised and elegant J Class fleet includes the 1930-build Shamrock, a poignant reminder of yesteryear. At the other end of the age spectrum, Sir Lindsay Owen-Jones’s recently launched Wally Cento Magic Carpet 3 (GBR) is guaranteed to draw admiring glances. Owen-Jones has an enviable record in Porto Cervo and his new Magic Carpet with the highly-respected Jochen Schümann as tactician, recently claimed line honours at the Giraglia Rolex Cup.
Competition in the Wally class will be fierce. Fellow Wally Cento Hamilton, owned by Sir Charles Dunstone, will count on the tactical expertise of British Olympian Ian Walker. Four-time winner Y3K (GER), owned by Claus-Peter Offen, will push hard for a fifth victory following a winter refit.
In the other classes, experience, design prowess and sailing talent are all at the fore. The 112-ft Nilaya (BEL), offering the perfect compromise between a racing and a cruising yacht, and with Bouwe Bekking as tactician, has dominated the Supermaxi class in the previous two years. Hasso Plattner returns with his former event winning maxZ86 Morning Glory (GER) in the Maxi Class, where defending champion Aegir (GBR), for whom American Olympian Steve Benjamin is tactician, has an outstanding more-recent record.
The Costa Smeralda is often considered the perfect sailing environment except for one problem. Crews have precious little time to bask in the sun and admire the inviting turquoise waters. The five days of racing are intense, and, navigators and tacticians must contend with the rocky outcrops that have claimed many notable victims over the years. Complacency is punished without exception.
Sailing begins on Monday 2 September. A week of dramatic action and sophisticated social events will conclude with the final prizegiving on Saturday 7 September.