Porto Cervo, Italy, 06 September 2016 - The Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup proved itself once again to be the definitive rendezvous for the fine art of big boat racing. The record fleet of Maxis participating at the 2016 edition enjoyed a day’s competition in blisteringly good conditions. Blue skies and warm breeze of 18 knots from the north-northeast greeted the competitors as racing started precisely at the scheduled hour.
Yesterday’s unexpected sojourn ashore was soon forgotten as the goliaths of the yachting world went head to head. The Costa Smeralda lived up to its revered reputation as one of the finest, grand prix sailing tracks in Europe if not the world.
The Maxi 72 and Wally classes undertook two high-pressure windward-leeward races, with Hap Fauth’s Bella Mente and Thomas Bscher’s Open Season ending the day on top of their respective standings. The remaining classes took on a challenging 36 nm coastal course. Appropriately, Win Win leads after one race in SuperMaxis; Rambler holds pole in Maxi Racing; My Song in Maxi Racing Cruising; Prospector in Mini Maxi Racing and H2O in Mini Maxi Racing Cruising.
Follow the leader
The coastal course offered a full examination as the fleet were faced with numerous tactical decisions as they threaded their through “Bomb Alley”, between the Maddalena Archipelago and mainland Sardinia, up towards the northern tip of Maddalena, before heading back downwind and outside the island chain to the finish off Porto Cervo.
In the SuperMaxi class, in her first race in European waters, Nikata led the way home. Navigator Mike Broughton was upbeat despite losing out on corrected time by three minutes: “Overall we’re happy. It was exciting racing with Win Win all the way round. It’s always great to race in 18 knots and beautiful sailing conditions. Interestingly, it’s rare to go through the channel in a north-northeasterly and we had to weave our way through the rocks scaring the crew as we went close in. It was tricky and felt quite narrow at times.”
For the Wallys and Maxi 72s engaged in close combat on the windward/leeward course, conditions were equally sublime. In the Maxi 72s, American yacht Bella Mente posted a first in race one and tied for second with Robertissima in race two, while Momo took the win. Bella Mente leads overall by 1.5 points from Momo. International Maxi Association President and owner of the Wally Open Season Thomas Bscher hunted down two wins, beating Lyra in race one and Tango G in race two.
Technical Briefing – The forefront of design
The Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup has long been the ultimate showcase for the latest thinking in Maxi yacht design. 2016 is no exception and the list of designers in attendance this week is a who’s who in the field. Some are following their latest creations and others simply keeping abreast of this rarefied sector of naval architecture.
Of the yachts making their debut at the event, a number are at the cutting edges of performance and luxury driven design in yachts exceeding 30.5 metres (100 feet). In an increasingly fast-paced world, the ability to mastermind yachts of this size that fulfil the twin demands of speed and comfort is a critical component in the skillset of today’s leading Naval Architects.
Mark Mills, the Irish designer best known in these circles for drawing the Maxi 72 Alegre (now Caol Ila R) winner of the Rolex Mini Maxi Worlds in 2014, is currently working on the design for a new Wallycento due to be launched next year. The Wallycento marries high-tech racing performance with spacious and comfortable interiors, and features lightweight, carbon composite hull designs. According to Mills: “This is a particularly exciting time in the development of Maxi yachts. We are definitely seeing a real increase in activity in the sector, partly due to a new generation of designs working their way in, and, partly a new generation of owners that view racing these yachts as a true discipline.”
Another design group renowned for their race boat pedigree is Judel/Vrolijk, designers of defending Rolex Maxi 72 World Champion, Bella Mente among others. J/V have proved themselves equally adept in drawing performance SuperMaxis. Rolf Vrolijk is here this week with an eye on one of their latest offerings, the 35 metre Nikata. “The main reason you see so many of these boats coming up at the moment is the development in the way they are equipped, built and ultimately perform. Sail plans are more performance oriented, construction materials are lighter, lifting keels offer more potential.”
The ability for designers to move with the times in terms of performance is due as much to the passion, enthusiasm and knowledge of the owners ordering these yachts as it is to the development in technology, as Javier Jaudenes the designer of Win Win explains: “All these yachts are a reflection of their owner. We as designers need to meet the brief and dreams of the individual.”
The design process is becoming more and more collaborative as the boundaries of development are pushed in all aspects of building these mammoth yachts. Designers need to work with many different suppliers from equipment providers to material engineers to ensure they put forward the best combination of characteristics to meet ever more demanding and precise briefs. Rolf Vrolijk: “We work with a lot of different groups – structural engineers, interior designers, sailmakers for example – to help us translate an idea into an individual owner’s dream boat.”
The pressure the designers are under to create the yacht that perfectly blends each owner’s interpretation of the performance/luxury combination is felt throughout the marine industry. The race to stay ahead is as intense on the shore as it is on the racecourse. In Jaudenes view: “Future projects will see a greater optimisation of the relationships between the various parties involved in the design and build process. Boats are a team effort. The next critical evolution may well be in coordinating the different disciplines.”
The 27th Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup is organised by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda in conjunction with the International Maxi Association and with the support of title sponsor Rolex. Racing continues tomorrow, Wednesday, with competition due to get underway at 14.30 CEST.
ROLEX AND YACHTING
Rolex has always sought to associate with activities that, like itself, were motivated by passion, excellence, precision and team spirit. Naturally, Rolex gravitated toward the elite world of sailing, forming an alliance that dates back to the late 1950s. Today, Rolex is Title Sponsor of some 15 major international events.
From leading offshore races, such as the Rolex Sydney Hobart and the biennial Rolex Fastnet Race, through to the highest-level one-design competition at the Rolex Farr 40 World Championship, spectacular gatherings at the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup and the Rolex Swan Cup, as well as the brand’s support of the International Sailing Federation and its close relationships with the most prestigious yacht clubs around the world, including the New York Yacht Club (US) and the Royal Yacht Squadron (Cowes, UK), Rolex is driven by a passion for excellence and a great appreciation for yachting that furthers the strong ties that bind these two worlds in their shared pursuit of perfection.
Leading brand of the Swiss watch industry, Rolex, headquartered in Geneva, enjoys an unrivalled reputation for quality and expertise the world over. Its Oyster watches, all certified as chronometers for their precision, are symbols of excellence, performance and prestige. Pioneer in the development of the wristwatch as early as 1905, the brand is at the origin of numerous major watchmaking innovations, such as the Oyster, the first waterproof wristwatch, launched in 1926, and the Perpetual rotor self-winding mechanism, introduced in 1931. Rolex has registered over 400 patents in the course of its history. A truly integrated and independent manufacturing company, Rolex designs, develops and produces in-house all the essential components of its watches, from the casting of the gold alloys to the machining, crafting, assembly and finishing of the movement, case, dial and bracelet. Rolex is also actively involved in supporting the arts, sports, exploration, the spirit of enterprise, and the environment through a broad palette of sponsoring activities, as well as philanthropic programmes.
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