The world’s most impressive monohull yachts - known in the sailing community as Maxis - are admired for their power and elegance. The Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, held annually in Porto Cervo, Sardinia, is the ultimate test for these magnificent craft. 

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Owned and frequently helmed by individuals accustomed to considerable success in all aspects of life, Maxis are sailed by outstanding talent and designed by architectural visionaries. Open only to yachts over 18.29 metres (60 feet) in length, the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup was first held in 1980 and is organized by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda and the International Maxi Association.

The YCCS is a preeminent organisation in the sport of sailing and celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2017. Rolex has been a partner of the club since 1984 and Title Sponsor of the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup since 1985. The 28th edition takes place from 3-9 September.

Mike Sanderson, former Rolex World Sailor of the Year, is quick to emphasize the event’s competitive seriousness: “This event sees successful businessmen and multiple world champion sailors racing against each other. Everyone is used to winning.” 

Fact: The record number of entrants at the competition stands at 52, set in 2016. 

A crucial part of any yacht race or regatta is the expertise of the organizing body. Top class events featuring cutting-edge, expensive yachts and the foremost in international sailing talent demand the highest professionalism in race management. This approach is fully endorsed by Rolex, whose involvement in yachting is centred upon its privileged alliance with the most respected yacht clubs around the world. Its relationship with the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda stands as one of its longest, stretching back over 30 years. 

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According to renowned American yachtsman Mike Toppa: “The Yacht Club Costa Smeralda has done a fantastic job growing with the sport. The race committee here exceeds expectations and is a world standard that other clubs and regattas try to match.” 

Fact: The Yacht Club Costa Smeralda was founded on 12 May 1967 by H.H. the Aga Khan, Andrè Ardoin, Giuseppe Kerry Mentasti and Luigi Vietti 

The Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup was born to provide the largest, most powerful yachts of the day with an opportunity to compete directly in a suitably challenging environment. Continuing that philosophy today, it is also regarded as a showcase for the latest innovations and advances in design and technology. Recent editions have witnessed the participation of many of the latest high-profile designs: from futuristic Wallycentos, to Swan 115 Supermaxis, to fully custom-racing boats, such as Rambler 88. 

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Maxi yacht design has come a long way since the early days of this event, according to Jim Pugh of Reichel/Pugh Yacht Design: “Initially, Maxis were heavy displacement, fixed keel boats with a fairly shallow draft. Those racing in Porto Cervo (today) are unrecognizable from their predecessors.” 

Fact: The first winner of the event was the 76-ft (23.2m) Australian Maxi Bumblebee. 


Types of yachts to look out for: 


Maxi 72s are cutting-edge racing yachts crewed by skilled professional sailors and driven, both metaphorically and literally, by the energy and passion of their owners. The class World Championship is held during the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, pitting the finest exponents against each other in close gladiatorial combat. Races are decided by fine margins. Nothing is left to chance on or off the water. 

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“The Maxi 72s are simply the top boats that exist in monohull racing,” reveals tactician Vasco Vascotto. “The boats are powerful, great to sail and versatile. The owner/driver rule encourages the owners to go out and win.” 

Fact: Niklas Zennström’s Rán 2 and Hap Fauth’s Bella Mente hold the record for the most victories in the Maxi 72 Rolex World Championship with three successes apiece. Bella Mente is the defending champion. 


Founded in 1999, Wally yachts are high performance cruisers typified by expansive decks and aggressive hull lines concealing chic interiors. Offering the latest in innovative design, construction techniques and sailing technology aligned with modern-day comfort, the yachts have proved adept on the racecourse. The latest evolution in this tech-driven, accomplished fleet is the 100-foot Wallycento. 

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Fact: Positioned bow to stern, the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup fleet regularly measures in excess of a kilometre.


The Supermaxi class is reserved for goliaths measuring upwards of 100-ft. From boats designed to both race and cruise, to those with speed as their single purpose, they reflect a continuing desire to set new benchmarks of power, comfort and elegance. 

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More often than not the epitome of luxury afloat, Supermaxis push the boundaries of knowledge and know-how of the world’s top designers, builders, equipment manufacturers, sailmakers and eventual crew. Seemingly ever bigger, ever more powerful designs are launched each year, as understanding of the possibilities presented by today’s materials and structural science continues to grow. 

Fact: The largest yacht ever to race at the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup is Hetairos measuring in at an extraordinary 218-feet (66.7m) 


As befits its elevated status in world yachting, the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup looks after the participants on both the sea and shore where a first-class social programme offers the sailing fraternity an opportunity to reflect on their experiences during the week and importantly their views on the sailing industry at large. Over the years, this complete approach has ensured the Maxi Yacht Rolex continues to lead the way in both tradition and innovation, values that resonate strongly with Rolex and that have secured the longstanding partnership between the event, organizer and Title Sponsor. 

“For over 30 years, this regatta has been the showcase for the Maxis,” asserts Andrew McIrvine, General Secretary of the International Maxi Association. 

And, in keeping with the eminent standing of the event, after five intense days of competition, the individual class winners are justly rewarded for their triumph with Rolex timepieces, the recognized reward for excellence. 



Virginie Chevailler
Rolex SA
+41 22 302 26 19

Giles Pearman
+41 79 763 37 34


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