In a just under two months’ time, the world’s number one rendezvous for Maxi yachts returns in the shape of the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup. Taking place from 31 August – 6 September, the competition is always one of the international yachting calendar’s standout occasions. Sponsored by Rolex since 1985, organized by the International Maxi Association (IMA) and the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda (YCCS), the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, held in Porto Cervo, Sardinia is an unmissable event for yacht designers, sailors and Maxi owners alike.
One of the competition’s most contested divisions is the Mini Maxi Rolex World Championship, where the quality increases year after year. Rán 2, Niklas Zennström’s outstanding 72-ft Mini Maxi, has won three of the four championships to date, although 2013’s dramatic victory in the final race was to be her last in the hands of Zennström who launched a new Rán earlier this year. Despite the new boat’s impressive start, Rán’s crew are fully aware that competing on the Costa Smeralda’s myriad of challenging racecourses will provide its sternest test to date.
Alegre was 2013’s new launch and performed impressively. Expectations are that the crew will be more familiar with boat’s potential and once again she will be among the frontrunners alongside Hap Fauth’s Bella Mente from the United States, winner in 2012. The fleet is likely to be bolstered by the presence of other quality Mini Maxis including George Sakellaris’ Shockwave (USA), Sir Peter Ogden’s new 72-ft Jethou (GBR), the former Stig, Swiss Alexander Schaerer’s Caol Ila R and Robertissima III (ITA), formerly Ran 2.
Rivalries are abound throughout the competition. Last year’s Wally competition witnessed the Porto Cervo debut of Sir Lindsay Owen-Jones’s new Wally Cento 100 Magic Carpet 3 although it was Jean Charles Decaux’s J-One which claimed its first title since 2007. Both crews are expected to return this year. 2013 witnessed the return to the Maddalena archipelago of the J-Class, where restorations compete with replica builds of original 1930s designs, adding both grace and class to the spectacle.
The Maxi class welcomes yachts from 80-100ft, usually the fastest boats on show. Recent participants have included Igor Simcic’s all-conquering 100-ft Reichel/Pugh Esimit Europa 2 as well as Lord Irvine Laidlaw’s 82-ft hybrid Highland Fling. In terms of sheer scale and power, the Supermaxi class, open to yachts over 100-ft, catch many admiring glances. Comprising boats dually designed to cruise and race, Filip Balcaen’s Nilaya has won the last three editions although it was Hetairos’s appearance in 2012 that made the most memorable headlines. At 216-ft (66.7m) she became the largest yacht ever to appear at the event. Proof that the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup is always pushing boundaries, forever evolving.