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Rolex Swan Cup 2018 at Yacht Club Costa Smeralda - Preview

by Quinag 29 Aug 07:32 PDT 9-16 September 2018
Rolex Swan Cup © Carlo Borlenghi

It is the largest, and most important, global meeting of Nautor's Swan yachts. The fact that it only takes place once every two years adds even greater allure.

An emblematic event in the sport of yachting, the Rolex Swan Cup continues to flourish. The 20th edition will welcome another sizeable international fleet, coming close to the event record of 125 yachts, set at the 2016 event.

Synonymous with style, heritage and innovation, the Rolex Swan Cup is defined by the historic, three-way partnership between Nautor's Swan, the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda (YCCS), and Rolex, whose association with sailing marks 60 years in 2018. The brand's partnership with the Rolex Swan Cup since 1984 is the longest running event relationship in the Swiss watchmaker's yachting portfolio.

A broad spectrum of Swan yachts will participate at this year's regatta in Porto Cervo. This highly respected brand represents a constant evolution in ideas and performance. A meticulous approach to design and construction embodies both tradition and the latest technological advancements, one of the uniting factors between Nautor's Swan and Rolex.

The Rolex Swan Cup often serves as a premiere for Nautor's Swan's latest launches. The famed islands, challenging winds and stunning scenery together with the excellent organization by the YCCS Race Committee, provide an exacting and competitive environment for a new yacht to test her potential. Falling into this category in 2018 is Haromi, the first iteration of one of Nautor's latest models, the Swan 78, designed by Germán Frers Snr and launched in May.

The racing programme

Nautor's Swan has recently reinforced its commitment to one design racing and, across three major championships, competition within this element of the fleet on the majestic waters of northeast Sardinia will be intense.

One of the exciting firsts in 2018 is an inaugural World Championship for the burgeoning Juan Kouyoumdjian-designed ClubSwan 50 class. Over ten entrants are expected to compete for the coveted first world crown. Given the quality of the crews and one design nature of the ClubSwan 50s, the margins on the water in this Class are often slight with the race winner decided by the smallest of details.

Hendrik Brandis, owner of Earlybird, will hope to benefit from his considerable Rolex Swan Cup experience to add a World Championship title from this new class to his already impressive collection of trophies. Also competing will be fellow German yachts Niramo and Onegroup, Italian yacht Cuordileone, owned and helmed by Nautor's Swan Chairman Leonardo Ferragamo, and Swiss entry Mathilde.

A similar number of yachts are expected to star in the Swan 45 World Championship. German entrant Elena Nova will be a front-runner, having taken the title in 2016 and finished second overall in the season-long Nations Trophy Mediterranean League. She will be up against defending champion Porron IX, from Spain.

The ClubSwan 42 will contest its European Championship, as part of the exciting Rolex Swan Cup programme in Porto Cervo. Having won the title at every edition since 2012, the Romanian-flagged Natalia remains one of the top contenders, together with Spanish entrants Nadir and Pez de Abril, as well as Italy's Far Star.

Away from the one design competitions, the entry list is equally first-class. The oldest registered entrant, Josian, winner of the first Rolex Middle Sea Race in 1968, is one of over 30 classic designs from the famed Sparkman and Stephens studio in New York. The Sparkman & Stephens class at the Rolex Swan Cup offers clear evidence of the durability and robustness of Swan yachts, and the loving care their owners bestow on them. Within this class are ten examples of one of the marque's most iconic and loved models. The Swan 65, ocean racer par excellence, dominated round the world racing during the 1970s. During its heyday, the Swan 65 was one of the largest racing yachts around.

Evolutions in design, technology and construction have enabled the emergence of yachts in excess of 100-ft: Swan Maxis are admired for their elegance, power and speed. Among the larger Swans expected to feature in September are Swan 90s Nefertiti and White Lie and two 100-ft yachts, Muzuni and Varsovie.

Across One Design, Swan Maxi, Swan Grand Prix and Sparkman and Stephens Classics divisions, competition will be intense all week. The five days of racing conclude with the final prize giving on Piazza Azzurra, where class winners will be awarded Rolex timepieces in recognition of their outstanding achievements.

The action on shore will be just as lively, thanks to a diverse social programme organized by the event partners, which will enable the Swan family, long defined by their spirit of fair play and camaraderie, to convene and reflect on this most momentous of events.

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