The Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup: sunny clime, rocky outcrops, ideal wind conditions and high-class sailing. 2013 marks the 24th edition of the world’s premiere rendezvous for Maxi yachts held in Porto Cervo, Sardinia. Five days of racing on the Costa Smeralda commences today with 37 eye-catching Maxi yachts (ranging from 60 to a gigantic 157-ft) negotiating an environment as challenging as it is dramatic.
“The two things which make the event unique are the race courses and the participants,” explained Riccardo Bonadeo, Commodore of event organizers Yacht Club Costa Smeralda. “The Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup from the very beginning has always been the event of excellence for ocean-going boats. And the environment is perhaps the most spectacular and technical in the world.”
“Somebody has got to tell me if there is a better place to go sail boat racing than Porto Cervo,” revealed Peter Craig, Principal Race Officer. “All the owners and sailors look forward to it like no other event. It’s a gorgeous venue with reliable breeze. One group of sailors, the navigators, may be the only people less enthused because there are plenty of rocks to negotiate around the coastline!” The event, co-organized with the International Maxi Association was first held in 1980 and has been the jewel of Rolex’s global yachting portfolio since 1985.
Preparation, whether physical, strategic or tactical, plays a crucial role in the lead up to a contest that demands perfection and where competition across the board is fierce. Crews started the last day before racing undertaking tailor-made fitness regimes onshore before honing starts, manoeuvres, tactics and communication on the water.
The 37-strong fleet comprises 13 yachts competing in the fourth running of the Mini Maxi Rolex World Championship. The Class, governed by an owner/driver rule, is in the ascendancy with a host of yachts in contention this year. Ran 2 (GBR) won the first two editions in 2010 and 2011. She narrowly relinquished her title in 2012 on countback to Hap Fauth’s fellow 72-ft Bella Mente (USA). Understandably, Zennström and his crew are determined to reclaim their title. “The (Mini Maxi) boats are amazingly fun to sail. They are powerful and for monohull sailing boats as good as it gets today,” explained Zennstrom. “The fleet is getting closer which means there are more boat on boat situations at [mark] roundings, and close crossings, which sharpen your skill as a helmsman.”
Zennström offers a personal insight into what it takes to win such a highly demanding event: “All teams are good. It’s about making the fewest mistakes. It’s not about trying to win every single race but being consistent and not having any shockers.” Ran 2’s list of rivals is formidable – the aforementioned Bella Mente, Andres Soriano’s brand new Alegre (GBR), together with Caol Ila R (USA), Shockwave (USA) and Stig (ITA).
An absolute contrast to the cut and thrust of the ultra-modern Mini Maxis is provided by the presence of four elegant timeless J-Class yachts, all in excess of 120-ft. Two of which – Shamrock and Velsheda – were first launched over 80 years ago. The sight of these yachts gliding elegantly through the Maddalena Archipelago will provide onlookers with a vista of rare grace. Equally, the talent and technology offered by the Maxi, Supermaxi and Wally classes – showcases for contrasting styles and designs - will provide compelling sailing. The largest attending yacht is the 157-ft Nativa from Italy.
“Weather-wise it’s going to be a little bit of everything, starting off relatively light but towards the end of the week we will see more breeze,” forecast Craig. “It’s going to be a terrific week.”