Always one of the most eye-catching and momentous events in the international sailing calendar, the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup is an astonishing line up of design, power and prowess. The 24th edition of the event – the world’s most important meeting of Maxi yachts – will take place from 1-7 September. This annual rendezvous held in Porto Cervo, Sardinia is organized by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda (YCCS) and the International Maxi Association (IMA). Rolex has been title sponsor since 1985.
The stage is set for a dramatic week of sailing with an impressive fleet of yachts all upwards of 60-feet (18.29-metres) in length preparing to grace the alluring but often uncompromising waters of Sardinia’s La Maddalena Archipelago. Competition will take place in different categories, including Mini Maxi, Maxi Racing, Maxi Racing/Cruising, Supermaxi and Wally.
The highly competitive Mini Maxi Class - yachts measuring from 60-79 ft - is experiencing something of a golden age; the fleet is closely matched, highly competitive and increasingly popular. This year marks the fourth running of the Mini Maxi Rolex World Championship. The defending champion is Hap Fauth’s 72-ft American entry Bella Mente. Last year, the new launch narrowly defeated Niklas Zennström’s 72-ft Rán 2, winner in 2010 and 2011. The level of competition is even greater this year. Andres Soriano is expected to arrive with his recently launched 72-ft Alegre (GBR), the freshest Mini Maxi design. His former 68-ft Alegre is now owned by Alexander Schaerer and is continuing to excel as Caol Ila R. Other forecast entrants like George Sakellaris’s Shockwave, Sir Peter Ogden’s Jethou and Alessandro Rombelli’s Stig are all equally capable of upsetting the form book.
Rivalries will be renewed throughout the competing fleet. The Wally class always reserves dramatic action. This year looks particularly appetising. Sir Lindsay Owen-Jones’s Magic Carpet crew – perennial winners in Porto Cervo – will be racing for the first time on Owen-Jones’s new Wally Cento Magic Carpet 3. The line honours winner at June’s Giraglia Rolex Cup features experienced former Olympic medallist Jochen Schümann as skipper. Meanwhile Claus-Peter Offen’s 100-ft Y3K from Germany will hit the water after recent modifications in an effort to maintain her remarkable run of success in Porto Cervo.
Belgian Filip Balcaen’s 112-ft Nilaya has dominated the Supermaxi class – reserved for yachts measuring in excess of 100-ft – over the past two years. The Class is typically the most diverse, attracting yachts built for both luxurious cruising and competitive sailing. Last year, the event set a new record with the appearance of the gigantic 216-ft Hetairos, the largest boat to ever feature in the competition.