Established by notable maxi boat owners Baron Edmond de Rothschild, Raul Gardini, John Kilroy and William Whitehouse-Vaux, the International Maxi Association (IMA) celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, an important milestone for the Association and the sport it represents.
Recognised by World Sailing as representing the interests of maxi boat owners internationally, it is thanks to this arrangement that World Championships are held for the Maxi 72s and the J Class, both classes officially affiliated to the IMA.
For the last three seasons the IMA has championed the Mediterranean Maxi Offshore Challenge (MMOC), designed to encourage maxi boat owners to campaign their giant sailing yachts offshore. This annual five event series starts with October’s Rolex Middle Sea Race and concludes with the Palermo Montecarlo the following August.
Now in it's 40th anniversary year, the IMA is introducing a sister circuit, the Mediterranean Maxi Inshore Challenge (MMIC). Unlike its offshore circuit, the MMIC will run over a calendar year, kicking off with the Real Club Nautico de Palma’s Sail Racing PalmaVela in May and concluding in October with Les Voiles de St Tropez.
Wallycentos match racing down the Costa Smeralda's 'Bomb Alley' at the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup. Photo: ROLEX / Studio Borlenghi
The 2019 MMIC will comprise:
Sail Racing PalmaVela (Palma, Mallorca) 8-12 May
Rolex Capri Sailing Week – inshores (Capri, Italy) 15-18 May
Rolex Giraglia – inshores (Saint-Tropez, France) 9-11 June
Copa del Rey MAPFRE (Palma, Mallorca) 27 July - 3 August
Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup (Porto Cervo, Sardinia) 1-7 September
Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez (Saint-Tropez, France) 28 September - 6 October
The MMIC visits Saint-Tropez twice in 2019 - first for the inshore races of the Rolex Giraglia and then concluding the season with Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez. Photo: Gilles Martin-Raget / Les Voiles de St Tropez
Competitors must compete in at least four of these events to qualify for a position on the MMIC scoreboard. Those who race in more can count their best four scores.
"Bringing the inshore racing program for our yachts together in the Mediterranean Maxi Inshore Challenge was the logical next step following our introduction of the IMA's Offshore Challenge three years ago." said IMA President Benoît de Froidmont. "The new 'Challenge' includes most of the events maxi owners already race in. We hope it will provide an extra incentive for more maxi owners to join us out on the water."
Leading by example, de Froidmont will be campaigning his Wally 60 Wallyño in this first MMIC. He plans to compete in Capri and at the Rolex Giraglia, the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup and at Les Voiles de Saint Tropez - meeting the minimum four events required to qualify.
The fourth Mediterranean Maxi Offshore Challenge is already under way and, again for 2018-2019, this comprises five events, beginning in October last year with the Rolex Middle Sea Race. In a race that favoured the smaller boats, it was two time Rolex Maxi 72 World Champion, Dieter Schön’s Momo that proved to be the top performing maxi yacht followed by George David’s Rambler 88.
The Mediterranean Maxi Inshore Challenge starts in May this year with Sail Racing PalmaVela. Photo: Nico Martinez / PalmaVela
The four remaining events in 2019 will be:
Regata dei Tre Golfi (Naples, Italy to Capri via Ponza and Li Galli – doubling as the first part of Rolex Capri Sailing Week). Start: 10 May 2019
151 Miglia-Trofeo Cetilar (Livorno, Italy to Punta Ala via Giraglia rock). Start: 30 May 2019
Rolex Giraglia (Saint-Tropez to Monaco via Giraglia rock). Start: 12 June 2019
Palermo Montecarlo. (Palermo, Sicily to Montecarlo via Porto Cervo mark and Strait of Bonifacio). Start: 21 August 2019
Competitors must compete in at least three of these events to qualify for the MMIC trophy. Those who race in more can count their best three scores. Past winners have included George David’s Rambler 88 while the present title holder is Carlo Puri Negri and his Farr 70 Atalanta II.
The IMA recently acquired two century-old silver trophies that are being repurposed as prizes for its Mediterranean Maxi Inshore and Offshore Challenges. The former will be awarded at an IMA members' dinner at the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup at Yacht Club Costa Smeralda, and the latter will be presented at an end of season gala in St Tropez.
Andrew McIrvine, Secretary General of the International Maxi Association commented, "In our goal to boost the quality and quantity of all maxi racing we hope that having both inshore and offshore Mediterranean series will encourage greater maxi participation in the leading regattas of the season."