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Over 10 Grandes Dames make their debut at Argentario Sailing Week

by Tessa Wiechmann on 17 Jun 2016
Race one action - 2016 Argentario Sailing Week James Robinson Taylor
First day of racing at Argentario Sailing Week in Tuscany for the second Mediterranean leg of the Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge. A total of 40 yachts from eight nations raced on a course set between the pristine beach of La Giannella and Porto Santo Stefano in the Argentario Gulf and the twelve newcomers crossed the starting line with the “old hands” of the international regatta organized by the Yacht Club Santo Stefano in partnership with the Florentine haute horologerie brand Officine Panerai.

Loving Serenade
Among the debutantes, breathtaking Serenade designed by American West Coast sailboat designer Nicholas Potter for the 1938 Trans Pacific Yacht Race (Los Angeles to Honolulu). Current owner Alain Moatti talked about how he fell in love with her: “The first time I saw her, my heart stopped. I have been sailing since I was 14 and I wanted to Race. When Enrique Charpentier told me Serenade was for sale I thought she was a very original yacht designed by a sophisticated man. Due to medical reasons, I was unable to travel so Charpentier and my friend Mike Horsley in February 2014 travelled to Mystic Connecticut to see her. Although she had not been sailed in over 15 years, in the full of winter, they took her out on the water breaking the ice: this in – 10 degrees! I decided to buy her even without personally having seen her in April of that year. I will never forget when Serenade arrived in a container ship in Genova, Italy. I was on the dock and her beauty made my heart stop. I was so excited that during the transfer from Genova to Villefranche I refused to sleep and took turns helming.” Serenade was fully refitted in 2015 by Gilbert Pasqui and, after removing 280 kg of “useless gadgets” is now ready to leave her mark. “Thanks to my multigenerational and very competent crew I can now say: Che la nave va!”.

Sweden on my mind
For the first time at Argentario Sailing Week, sleek Enterprise designed by Sparkman and Stephens in 1939. Originally in New York, in 1946 she was taken to the West Coast of the USA and participated in the Hawaii Transpac regatta. In 2015, a group of six good friends and avid sailors from Sweden decided to buy her.

“Enterprise is fast and was in good condition. All six of us have been sailing for years and some even took part in the America’s Cup. We decided to come to Argentario Sailing Week because the regatta is very well organized and I love the town. I was here already last year on Manitou. Having the Yachts so close to the bars and restaurants really allows us to enjoy the village feel!”

The Race
In the morning, before the Skippers’ briefing, the Mayor of Monte Argentario Arturo Cerulli greeted all skippers at the Town Hall presenting each boat with a publication on the beauty of Maremma. Racing kicked off shortly after 1pm with light and shifty winds due to the overcast skies that did not allow the thermal breeze to fill in. Later in the afternoon, although the breeze had picked up to 8-9 knots gusting to 14, the Race Committee led by Sandro Gherarducci decided to shorten the course. The Grandes Dames returned to shore now under sunny skies and in the evening enjoyed dinner at the Spanish Fortress built in the 18th Century overlooking the Argentario Bay.

“I love the way classic yachts have become a part of my life”, states Marco Poma Sports Director of the Yacht Club Santo Stefano. “I now live in Boston for work reasons and the Cape is around the corner. Argentario Sailing Week continues to grow and I am truly pleased to welcome for the first time so many yachts to the Tuscan leg of Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge. The word is spreading and many fall in love with our stunning landscape, breathtaking racecourse and friendly hospitality. I want to thank our title sponsor Officine Panerai which continues to believe in us, the Mayor of Monte Argentario and all those who contribute in different ways in ensuring this is an unforgettable regatta every year.”

On Thursday 16 June after registration and measurement the Yacht Club Santo Stefano hosted the Argentario Sailing Week Welcome Cocktail. On Friday 17 June evening at 8 p.m., the Spanish Fortress built in the 18th Century overlooking the Argentario Bay will provide a magical setting for the crew dinner organized by the Yacht Club Santo Stefano. After, all can dance the night away at the DJ set “La notte delle Vele” at the Race Village. Saturday, after racing, the Yacht Club Santo Stefano will hold a Beer and Oyster party at the Race Village The Prize giving Ceremony will be held on Sunday at the Race Village followed by a Farewell Cocktail.

This year Argentario Sailing Week is also sponsored by MediaTouch 2000, which has been offering company training and communication solutions with modern technologies for over 15 years.

The Argentario Sailing Week 2016 is organized by the Yacht Club Santo Stefano with the patronage of the Region of Tuscany, the Province of Grosseto, and the Municipality of Monte Argentario and of AIVE (Italian Association of Vintage Yachts). The local tourism board supports the event. Officine Panerai is the Title Sponsor and MediaTouch 2000 is the main one. Other sponsors include Argentario Approdi Spa, SLAM, L Marine Group (Gleistein and Dr. Sails) and Argentarola srl. Official Suppliers LaMMa (weather forecast), Roman’s (Oysters) and Verdissimo.

The Argentario Sailing Week is part of the Mediterranean Circuit of the Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge. The opening leg is Les Voiles d’Antibes (1-5 June 2016), followed by the Argentario Sailing Week in Porto Santo Stefano (16-19 June), the Vele D’Epoca d’Imperia (7-11 September) and the Régates Royales in Cannes (20-24 September).

All participating yachts, their designers and stories are described in detail here, where sailing enthusiasts can comment and share information on seamanship, sailing proverbs, maritime novels and art, little known facts about Southern Tuscany’s culture, food and wine and their love for the sea.

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