The 32nd edition of the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup drew to a close on Saturday after four days of close racing out of Yacht Club Costa Smeralda in Porto Cervo.
The final classification remained unchanged from the penultimate day of competition after the last day of racing was cancelled due to the incoming mistral with gusts in excess of 30 knots. The race committee took the decision to send the 50-strong fleet (the event’s second-largest fleet on record) back to port for prize giving.
The 43.6 metre Vitters sailing yacht Svea was crowned winner of the J Class fleet after securing the win on all but one day where Velsheda came out on top. Taking second place was the 41.55 metre Ranger on its Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup debut under new ownership, followed by Velsheda and Topaz respectively.
Bouwe Bekking, tactician on the J Class Svea said: “We had a fantastic week, we did a lot of training, we sailed well, had good starts and that helped a lot. The crew work was excellent, the boat was well prepared, no breakages which is a big thing with these J Class boats which weigh 185 tonnes.”
In the Supermaxi division, the 35.2 metre Swan 115 Shamanna triumphed over the Spirit Yachts 111 Geist while fellow Swan 115 sistership Moat 1 finished in third place following a retirement on day four of racing due to outhaul issues. Christopher Brand, captain of Shamanna said: "We're delighted with the result, the boat goes brilliantly and the crew was perfect. We thank the organisation for setting up a Supermaxi class separate from the J Class yachts, which improved the competition."
The Maxi class was the largest division with 13 entries. Lord Irvine Laidlaw's 25.5 metre Reichel/Pugh Highland Fling XI took the win ahead of the Wallycento Galateia and the Wally 93 Bullitt. Speaking at the event, Laidlaw said: “The boat is 13 years old this year and we’re delighted that we can still compete and compete well against all these other boats that are significantly younger. We’ll be back next year with a new 80-foot cat and we’re looking forward to that very much, it’s the best place in the world to go sailing and hopefully we’ll have the fastest catamaran in the world.”
Also competing in the Maxi category was Pier Luigi Loro Piana's brand new canting keel ClubSwan 80 My Song which finished in a respectable fifth.
In the Mini Maxi 1 group of thoroughbred racing yachts, the 22 metre JV72 Vesper claimed victory ahead of Proteus and Bella Mente, marking another win for skipper Jim Swartz after coming first overall at Les Voiles de St Barths Richard Mille earlier this year. The scores were incredibly tight at the top of the Mini Maxi 2 class, where RP78 Capricorno got the better of the Mylius 80 Twin Soul B by just one point, with the Wally 78 Rose taking third place.
As a mark of respect for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on the penultimate day of racing, Peter Dubens’ North Star and Sir Peter Ogden’s Jethou, raced for 96 seconds before they dropped sails. Their crews stood to attention, heads bowed, for a minute of silence before returning to port.
YCCS Commodore Michael Illbruck reflected on the week during the closing prize-giving ceremony: “The Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup is a special event, unique I would say, which we are proud to organise. Some of the best sailors in the world come to Porto Cervo to sail on J Class boats, designed in the 1930s, as well as maxi yachts at the cutting edge of naval technology. We will continue to raise the bar and follow a path of innovation and excellence."
The Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup is organised by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda in collaboration with the IMA (International Maxi Association) and with the support of long-standing title sponsor Rolex. The Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup is also the penultimate event of the IMA’s Mediterranean Maxi Inshore Challenge (MMIC)