Battle of the giants

Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup revs up in Porto Cervo

Tuesday August 28th 2007, Author: Jill Campbell, Location: United Kingdom
As the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda (YCCS) prepares to round out a year of festivities marking 2007 as its 40th Anniversary, this year’s Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, now in its 18th edition, promises to be an extra special celebration of the finest in sailing prowess and technology. The event, hosted by YCCS and organised in conjunction with the International Maxi Association (IMA), will run on 2-8 September on the azure waters off Porto Cervo.

As is now customary, the entry list for the event reads like an international who’s who of both the sailing and business worlds. With competitors such as L’Oreal Chairman Lindsay Owen Jones, SAP founder Hasso Plattner and Pirelli President Marco Tronchetti Provera skippering their own craft, it is clear these are not men content to sit back and watch someone else take the reins. Tackling the infamous Sardinian mistral winds in various other roles will be even more sailing greats, including America’s Cup sailors Tommaso Chieffi, Karol Jablonski, Morgan Larson, Tiziano Nava and James Spithill.

As usual participing yachts will compete in five divisions: Racing, Cruising, Wally, Spirit of Tradition and Mini Maxi.

The toughest competition is often to be found among the high-tech 'grand prix' craft of the Racing division. An Antipodean battle of the giants is set to take place between long-time rivals and their sisterships Bob Oatley’s Wild Oats XI (AUS) and Neville Crichton’s Alfa Romeo (NZL): Oatley will be looking to improve on last year’s third-place finish in the Maxis behind Alfa Romeo and Plattner’s Morning Glory (GER) while Crichton will want to return to winning ways after withdrawing from the Rolex Fastnet race earlier this month due to equipment failure. George David’s Rambler (USA), fresh from victory in the Super Zero division of the Fastnet, will also be a force with which to be reckoned. Up against Rambler will be renowned naval architect Ed Dubois with his newly launched cruising sloop Salperton, at 145ft in length the largest yacht signed up so far.

Providing a contrast, the more comfortably equipped Cruising division craft will include the J Class yacht Ranger (CAY) owned by RSV Ltd, three-time division winner of Antigua Classic week, alongside Vittorio Morretti's elegant 118ft maxi Dolphin Viriella (ITA), competing in her sixth consecutive Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup. Expertise will not be lacking in this class either, with eight-time America’s Cup veteran Tom Whidden on board Arne Glimcher’s 122ft Ghost (USA).

The Mini Maxi division - introduced by the IMA in 2005 and returning for the second time in this event - is growing fast with 12 boats currently registered. The yachts, which range from 18 to 23.9m in accordance with IMA regulations, include Pinta 72 (GER), owned by 2001/'02 Volvo Ocean Race winner Michael Illbruck, and Giorgio Ruffo’s Aleph (ITA), winner of the 2006 edition in this division.

Last year’s Spirit of Tradition winner Hetairos (CAY), a classic ketch owned by Rockport Ltd. and helmed by Otto Happel, will be looking to defend her title against Aschanti IV, a 1954 schooner owned by the company of the same name.

The Wally division can expect a close-fought battle between last year’s winner Magic Carpet Squared (GBR), with owner Lindsay Owen-Jones at the helm, and the 2005 winner Y3K (GER), owned by IMA President Claus Peter Offen.

With a series of social events ranging from elegant gala dinners to exuberant crew parties, competitors will be kept entertained right up until the final prize giving scheduled to take place in Piazza Azzurra, the heart of the Race Village, on Saturday 8 September.

The majority of the maxi fleet will remain in Porto Cervo until Monday 10 September to help the YCCS celebrate in their 40th Anniversary regatta: a festival of sailing which is open to all sailing vessels and will surely reflect the entire spectrum of yacht racing’s past and present. In addition to the Maxis and boats linked to the YCCS history, the International 12 Metre class will also participate as part of their centenary tour alongside boats from the Rolex Veteran Boat Rally, set to start on 12 September.

For a complete list of entries - click here

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