In less than a week’s time, the Italian island of Capri hosts the first event in Rolex’s Mediterranean yachting season. Rolex Capri Sailing Week (19 – 24 May) promises to be one of the most important big boat rendezvous of the year. Now in its 10th edition, the 2014 event comprises six days of close racing both inshore and offshore, including the Volcano Race from Capri to the Aeolian Islands and back.
When Rolex Capri Sailing Week starts next Monday, Capri’s famous rock formations will witness a quality international fleet in close combat. The International Maxi Association and the Yacht Club Capri, organisers of the event, have divided the entries into three different classes: Mini Maxi (18.29m to 24.08m), Maxi (24.09m-30.5m) and TP52 (15.85m). 21 crews from 11 different countries have accepted the challenge.
The Mini Maxi fleet has been sub-divided into Racing and Racing/Cruising. The Racing division features entries such as Roberto Tomassini’s Judel Vrolijk designed 23m Robertissima III, the former Rán 2, three times winner of the Mini Maxi Rolex World Championship. 'We’ve been working hard all winter. Finishing second in Palma, where we arrived with high expectations, was great, but we still need to keep working hard', commented Tomassini. 'I’ve never raced in Capri, and it has always been a dream for me, a place so glamorous and with such a super nice atmosphere; it is one of our most important regattas this season.'
The Italian team will be reinforced on its Capri debut with some high calibre talent including Rolex Testimonee Paul Cayard: 'Vasco Vascotto, our tactician, and Guillermo Parada, our strategist, have previous commitments, and our goal was to replace them with sailors with the same attitude and skills, so we decided to sail with Paul Cayard as tactician and Cameron Appleton as strategist,' explained Tomassini.
Sir Peter Ogden, overall winner of the event 2012 and second in 2013, is returning to Capri with a bigger, more powerful Mini Maxi, in the shape of the former Stig, redeveloped and modified by the Jethou crew over the winter. Jethou can also count on an expert tactician in the shape of Brad Butterworth. 'This is one of the five or so events we do every year,' explains Ogden. 'Capri is very attractive and I am looking forward to it.' Jethou also competed in Palma earlier this month.
Hubert Wargny’s 21.48m French entry Villa Saxe Eiffel is another proven yacht under new ownership. Formerly Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, she set a monohull race record at the 2011 Rolex Fastnet Race.
In the Mini Maxi Racing/Cruising division, the list of participants includes Jeremy Pilkington’s Baltic 78 Lupa of London (GBR), a class winner at the 2013 Mini Maxi Rolex Worlds, and Filippo Gorziglia’s Brenta 60 Good Job Guys (ITA), the smallest Mini Maxi in contention.
The Maxi class features the biggest boats in the fleet, those over 24 metres in length. For Igor Simcic’s Slovenian entry, Esimit Europa 2, monohull line honours winner at the 2013 Rolex Fastnet and race record holder at the Giraglia Rolex Cup, this will be a first participation in the Rolex Capri Sailing Week, and the yacht’s competitive debut for the 2014 season. The powerful 100-ft Reichel/Pugh design shares its class with Leonardo Ferragamo’s Swan 90 Solleone from Italy.
For the first time, the Rolex Capri Sailing Week adds the competitive TP52 class, with nine boats from seven different nations. The list of participants includes Alberto Roemmers’ Azzurra (ITA); Doug DeVos’ Quantum Racing (USA); Michele Galli’s B2 (ITA), overall winner of the Rolex Middle Sea Race 2013; and Niklas Zennström’s Rán (SWE), whose team has won three Mini Maxi Rolex World Championships.
Racing starts for the Maxi fleet on 19 May at 10:00 CEST with the challenging and attractive Volcano Race, a 250-300-nautical mile offshore race between Capri and the volcanic Aeolian Islands. The TP52s will make their debut on 20 May with the first in a series of inshore and coastal races. All the week’s winners will be announced on 24 May during the prize giving ceremony held at the Marina Grande.
Further information on the Rolex Capri Sailing Week may be found here