31st Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup: Who Got Ahead This Time?

The 31st annual Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup regatta kicked off on 5–11 September 2021 in Porto Cervo, Italy.

The Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup is renowned internationally as the key event for maxi yachts, a showcase of innovation, technology and competition at the highest level, with this year's edition being a special one. Following a temporary stop imposed by the pandemic in 2020, the presence of 44 yachts on the starting line was a testament to the great desire in international yachting to return to competitive activities.

The entire event took place in compliance with regulations to prevent the spread of Covid-19, as well as additional initiatives implemented by the YCCS to further reduce any risks. Among these was the decision taken with the support of the organizers to carry out only coastal races, where the number of crew on board can be reduced in comparison to windward-leeward courses. Only the Mini Maxi 1 class, designed for highly technical races, completed two windward-leeward races.

Due to the variety of yachts competing, ranging from pure racers to cruiser-racers that enable their owners to cruise as well as take part in regattas, the fleet had been divided into three main divisions: Supermaxi, Maxi and Mini Maxi. The boats were then grouped into subdivisions according to their characteristics, with the aim of creating competitive groups with comparable performance levels. The rating system for calculating scores was the IRC, with the exclusion of the Supermaxi class, which used the ORCsy system, specially designed for the largest racing boats.

Image Credit: Rolex | Carlo Borlenghi

This year, the competition was fierce and undoubtedly spectacular. In the Supermaxi division the J Class yacht Velsheda, with Mike Toppa calling tactics, took three firsts and a second place to claim victory ahead of the other J Class, Topaz, with Peter Holmberg at the helm and Francesco De Angelis on tactics. The Maxi division saw two YCCS members occupying the top spots, with first place going to the Wallycento Magic Carpet 3, owned by Sir Lindsay Owen Jones and fielding Jochen Schuemann on tactics, followed by Claus-Peter Offen's Y3K, with tactician Karol Jablonski. Third place went to the other Wallycento taking part, Galateia owned by David Leuschen, with tactician Murray Jones. In the Maxi72 Class, Dario Ferrari's Cannonball, with tactician Vasco Vascotto managed to raise to the occasion., while Alessandro Del Bono's Capricorno, with tactician Flavio Favini and a crew won the Mini Maxi 2 division. In the Mini Maxi 3 and 4 group the Wally 77 Lyra, owned by Terry Hui and with Hamish Pepper on tactics, had already secured victory on Thursday when she racked up her fourth consecutive win. And, finally, the perpetual trophy dedicated to the memory of the first Commodore of the YCCS, Gianfranco Alberini, was awarded to Vincenzo Addessi’s Fra’ Diavolo.

The 31st Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup concluded with a prize giving ceremony attended by the President of the Board of Directors of the YCCS, Princess Zahra Aga Khan, the President of Rolex Italy, Gian Riccardo Marini, and the President of the IMA, Benoit de Froidmont.

Image Credit: Rolex | Carlo Borlenghi

Michael Illbruck, YCCS Commodore: “It has been an incredible week. The Race Committee did a great job in ensuring all the participants enjoyed the best possible competition. Today, unfortunately, the breeze was too light to let us hold the final scheduled coastal race, but the energy here is absolutely positive, back on the docks there were nothing but smiles and applause. I think it's been great for everyone here to get back to racing in Porto Cervo again, in this setting, with a fleet of the highest level and internationally renowned sailors, after a difficult period caused by the pandemic, which meant that the event was not held last year. On behalf of the YCCS I'd like to thank all the owners and crews who came here for the 31st edition of the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, despite the difficulties. My thanks also go to our long-standing partner Rolex and the International Maxi Association for their invaluable support and the Race Committee, the jury and all the staff of the YCCS who have made such an important contribution to the success of this event.”

The YCCS sporting calendar continues with the Vela & Golf event, scheduled for next weekend, while from 7 to 10 October the final of the Sailing Champions League will take place, an event for club teams that will round off the season on the waters of Porto Cervo.
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