The Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup 2016 (September 4-10, Porto Cervo, Italy) was born to provide the largest, most powerful yachts with an opportunity to compete directly in a suitably challenging environment. Continuing that philosophy, it is also widely regarded as a showcase for the latest advances in design and technology.
The Costa Smeralda has provided the stunning setting and testing conditions ever since the first Maxi World Championship was held there in 1980. The brainchild of the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda and its president, the Aga Khan, the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup is an eagerly anticipated annual event attracting a sizeable fleet of yachts all over 60 feet (18.29 metres) in length. 2016 marks the 27th edition of the competition and includes the vaunted Rolex Maxi 72 World Championship.
The fleet has been divided into seven divisions based on the size and technical characteristics of the boats. In addition to the Maxi 72 class, competing for their World Championship, the Supermaxi, Maxi Racing and Maxi Racing Cruising, Mini Maxi Racing, Mini Maxi Racing Cruising and Wally divisions will compete. The participating Southern Wind boats will also race for a special prize.
Competition in the notoriously competitive Maxi 72 Class is set to be as close as ever. Reigning World Champion Bella Mente will be defending her crown from Proteus, who finished a very close second behind her at last month’s Coppa del Rey. Caol Ila and Jethou, with world-class tacticians John Cutler and Brad Butterworth, will also be ones to watch, while regular competitor Momo and the newly-launched Robertissima while also be flexing considerable knowledge of the Porto Cervo race course.
The Wally division, the largest of the fleet with no less than 13 ultra-modern racers registered, hosts last year’s division winner Open Season, which also won the Loro Piana Superyacht Regatta in these waters in June. Looking to block her path to victory will be the yard’s very latest launch, the Wallycento Galateia, as well as veteran participants and former division winners such as J One and Y3k.
The Supermaxi division contains several boats making their Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup 2016 debut: the 50-metre Ohana, the 35-metre Nikata, the 33-metre WinWin and the 32-metre Sea Wave. The Farr 115 Sojana, meanwhile, makes a welcome return after several years of absence from the event. Also returning is last year’s divison winner Inoui, a regular participant in YCCS regattas.
The pure Maxi Racers Leopard 3 and Rambler 88 will be spectacularly match-racing around the coastal courses this week while the among the Maxi Racing Cruising yachts the Australian Ammonite, boasting sailing legend Peter Holmberg on tactics, will be hoping to shine at her Maxi debut. Last year’s winner, the Southern Wind Windfall, will be present to defend her title.
Supernikka and H20, reigning champions in the Mini Maxi Racing and Mini Maxi Racing Cruising divisions, will be contending with several new entries, and will also be up against Spectre and Shirlaf, second-place finishers in their respective divisions in last year’s event.
YCCS Commodore Riccardo Bonadeo is looking forward to a memorable week: “Aside from being the largest ever hosted at the event, this maxi fleet is also one of the most impressive in terms of quality. The technology, design and craftsmanship on display on the quays of Porto Cervo marina this week is really phenomenal, and covers the whole spectrum of today’s competitive maxi sailing yachts. It also looks like we will see a whole range of conditions over the course of the week which will make the racing all the more interesting for everyone involved.“
If the yachts and yachtsmen gathered in Porto Cervo confirm this event as one of the highlights of the international regatta calendar, the associated social gatherings confirm it as one of the most stylish. From welcome cocktails on the YCCS terrace to an Audi party for crews and a gala dinner by Rolex for owners, all involved will enjoy the best of Sardinia’s Costa Smeralda by day and by night.
Throughout the week the Wally and Maxi 72 classes will face both coastal and windward-leeward courses with the remaining divisions completing only round-the-islands courses. The YCCS Race Committee has announced that tomorrow all divisions will be set a coastal course. Racing is scheduled to get underway at 11.30 and strong winds of approximately 25 knots are predicted.