Porto Cervo, Italy, 06 September 2016. Over its 37-year history, the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup has become a by-word for excellence. From the yachts, to the crews, to the organization, the event gives the impression of a well-rehearsed opera and belies the complexity of the orchestration beneath. Credit goes to the marine industry, which has championed technological innovation and materials advancement to build bigger, faster, manoeuvrable, elegant yachts; to the owners and crews that have embraced the opportunities presented and have developed the skills required to handle the complex machines at their command. Most of the credit, though, must go to the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda (YCCS). the composer and founder of the event and, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.


The first two days of the 2017 Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup have seen contrasting conditions. Monday’s coastal race allowed all classes to enjoy a classic Porto Cervo racecourse inside the channel between mainland Sardinia and the archipelago with gusts topping 15 knots. Tuesday’s racing was more testing for both the crews and the YCCS race team led by Peter Craig, with a delayed start for everyone and two classes, Maxi 72 and Wally, missing out on any racing at all.

As event enters its third day, the leading boats in class are: Bella Mente in Maxi 72, Magic Blue in Wally, Ribelle in Supermaxi, Highland Fling XI in Maxi, Jethou in Mini Maxi Racer, Wallyño in Mini Maxi Racing Cruising 1 and H2O in Mini Maxi Racing Cruising 2. Organised by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda in conjunction with the International Maxi Association and with the support of title sponsor Rolex, the 28th Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup continues until Saturday, 9 September.

Yesterday’s conditions that eventually favoured the coastal course scheduled for the Supermaxis, Maxis and Mini Maxis, enabled these classes to stretch their legs outside Caprera and Maddalena before a return leg within the channel to the finish off Porto Cervo.  It offered crews ample time to reflect on the vision of H.H. the Aga Khan some 60 years ago. Had he not fallen for the charms of the Costa Smeralda and seen the potential from a sailor’s perspective, it is questionable whether this natural grand prix sailing ground would ever have become an annual pilgrimage for the Maxi fleet.

According to YCCS Commodore Riccardo Bonadeo, who remembers visiting the wilderness region around the same time: “It is difficult to imagine this area 50 – 60 years ago when the Aga Khan first came.” Bonadeo is quick to acknowledge the foresight and perseverance that stemmed from that pivotal visit: “From the beginning [the Aga Khan] had a great vision that it could become the future for big boats and international big boat races.” And, in Bonadeo’s unequivocal view, looking at the club and this year’s Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup fleet: “I consider that vision has been achieved.”

Some 50 years on from the club’s founding on 12 May 1967, the Commodore is honoured to be leading an organization, whose: “guiding principles are excellence, innovation and attention to the next generation” and is proud that it continues “to promote a passion for sailing along with a love of nature and this type of sport.”

Three-time America’s Cup winner Tom Whidden is racing as strategist this week aboard Magic Carpet Cubed. A 30-plus year veteran of the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, his experience encompasses the earliest days of the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup with Kialoa and Boomerang in the 1980s. Whidden readily attests to Bonadeo’s assertions: “There are not that many places you can bring this many big boats, and this harbour is both deep enough and big enough, so that’s good. The race management and the welcome from the club suits these boats and their owners. They are generous with their time and facilities, making us feel like it’s our home. The people that currently lead and have led this club in the past love sailing. It’s sailors that are the heritage of this club and we are lucky it has remained that way.”

Across its 50 years, the YCCS has been an integral part of the promotion of the sport it loves. Affiliated with Italian Sailing Federation since 1968, from its inception, the Club aimed to organize international regattas. The first edition of the Settimana delle Bocche was held in 1972. In 1973, the Club organized the One Ton Cup and then in 1978 the first Sardinia Cup. 1980 saw the creation of two important world championships: the Swan World Cup and the Maxi Yacht World Championship, with which Rolex has been associated since 1984 and 1985 respectively. In 1981, the YCCS launched the first Italian challenge for the America's Cup and was Challenger of Record for the 1987 edition of the Cup.

In its continued effort to innovate and evolve, the YCCS inaugurated a new winter base in Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands in 2012 and, today, the Club runs regattas year-round on both sides of the Atlantic. Bonadeo believes that the club’s principal sporting events remain the big boat events, like the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup. These are the events that inspired its founding, and the club has been able to pursue its ambitions in this area thanks to its longstanding relationship with another like-minded organization: “Rolex is much more than a sponsor, they are a real partner. They share with us the same passion, the same pursuit of excellence to do the best possible activity in their field. The Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup and the Rolex Swan Cup are two key points in the club’s racing activity. Both deserve the best organization on the water and best hospitality on land.”

Rolex has always sought to associate with activities that are 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 grand-prix competition at the Rolex TP52 World Championship and spectacular gatherings at the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup and the Rolex Swan Cup. The Swiss watchmaker’s close relationships with the most prestigious yacht clubs around the world, including the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda (Italy), the New York Yacht Club (US) and the Royal Yacht Squadron (Cowes, UK), are the foundation of Rolex’s enduring relationship with pinnacle of yachting.

Rolex, the Swiss watch brand headquartered in Geneva, enjoys an unrivalled reputation for quality and expertise the world over. Its Oyster and Cellini watches, all certified as Superlative Chronometers for their precision, performance and reliability, are symbols of excellence, elegance and prestige. Founded by Hans Wilsdorf in 1905, the brand pioneered the development of the wristwatch and 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 invented 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.



Virginie Chevailler
Rolex SA
+41 22 302 26 19

Giles Pearman
+41 79 763 37 34


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