Following its Annual General Meeting held during this month’s Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, the International Maxi Association, the World Sailing-recognised body that oversees maxi yacht racing globally, has announced its prize winners, voted in a new President and published its 2019 race program.
Taking over as President from Thomas Bscher, owner of the Wallycento 107 Open Season, is Benoît de Froidmont, who campaigns the Farr-designed Wally 60 Wallyño. The Geneva-based Luxembourger will serve for a three year term in office.
“I am very excited by this new challenge,” said de Froidmont. “We have a lot of things to do, but we have the full support to do them from Rolex, the long term partner of the Maxi circuit. Our aim is to encourage more maxi owners to come and race their boats, plus we want to make owners who already racing, more happy. They expect a lot from their Association. We are trying to understand their needs and respond to that.”
New International Maxi Association President, Benoît de Froidmont. Photo: Ingrid Abery/ www.ingridabery.com
Over the last few years, under the Presidency of Thomas Bscher and on-going Secretary General Andrew McIrvine, the International Maxi Association has already expanded its operations considerably.
The J Class has become affiliated to the Association and thanks to this was permitted by World Sailing to hold its first ever World Championship last year in Newport, RI. Other classes of maxi boat (ie of 60+ft LOA) are expect to join forces with the International Maxi Association similarly in the near future.
In the Mini Maxis, the International Maxi Association has separated out the Maxi 72s into their own grand prix class, which compete for their own World Championship annually during the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup. This has left the Mini Maxi class exclusively for more popular cruiser-racers, encompassing everything from 1970s Swan 65 ketches to their lightweight, high volume modern day equivalents such as the larger Mylius models, and Roberto Lacorte’s Vismara Mills 62 RC SuperNikka.
George Sakellaris' Maxi 72 Proteus - 2017 IMA Yacht of the Year. Photo: ROLEX / Studio Borlenghi
This period has seen the launch of the Association’s Mediterranean Maxi Offshore Challenge that in 2017 expanded to five events starting with the Rolex Middle Sea Race, then taking in the Regata dei Tre Golfi, 151 Miglia-Trofeo Cetilar, Rolex Giraglia (offshore race) and the Palermo-Montecarlo. Winner of the Challenge is the boat posting the top results across three of these five events.
At the International Maxi Association’s exclusive annual members dinner at the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda during the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, winner of the 2017-18 Mediterranean Maxi Offshore Challenge was announced as Carlo Puri Negri and his well campaigned Farr 70 Atalanta II.
Highlight of Puri Negri’s season was August’s Palermo-Montecarlo. “After 250 miles we arrived [at the turning mark off Porto Cervo] first overall under IRC, ahead of even Rambler and Lucky which was very difficult! Apart from one and a half hours, it was all upwind except of 90° with Code 0 and the staysail, conditions in which we can do well.”
Atalanta II's Carlo Puri Negri accepts his trophy for winning the 2017-18 IMA Mediterranean Maxi Offshore Challenge. Photo: Gianfranco Forza.
George Sakellaris’ Maxi 72 Proteus (above) was announced IMA Yacht of the Year for 2017, as decided upon by the International Maxi Association main committee.
The International Maxi Association calendar for 2019 will include:
Sail Racing PalmaVela, Palma, Majorca – 8-12 May
Regata dei Tre Golfi* - 10 May
Rolex Capri Sailing Week - 14-18 May
151 Miglia - Trofeo Cetilar* - 30 May - 1 June
Rolex Giraglia* - 9 - 15 June
Palermo-Montecarlo Race* - 21 - 26 August
Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup - 1 - 7 September
Les Voiles de St. Tropez - 28 September - 6 October
Rolex Middle Sea Race* - 19 October
RORC & IMA Transatlantic Race - 23 November
(all of which include IMA Member trophies.)
*part of the IMA Mediterranean Maxi Offshore Challenge (best three of five races)
IMA Endorsed Events:
RORC Caribbean 600 - 18 February
Les Voiles de Saint-Barth - 14 - 20 April
Loro Piana Superyacht Regatta - 3 to 8 June
Copa del Rey Mapfre - 27 July - 3 August
Rolex Fastnet Race - 3 August
Barcolana - 13 October
Venice Hospitality Challenge –19 October
Rolex Sydney-Hobart Yacht Race - 26 December
Start of the 2017 Rolex Middle Sea Race. Photo: ROLEX / Kurt Arrigo
Setting sail on 20 October, the Rolex Middle Sea Race will be a record edition as the Royal Malta Yacht Club’s ‘classic 600 miler’ celebrates its 50th anniversary. With 131 boats already entered, this year’s race is on track to exceed the previously largest entry of 122 in 2014. Traditionally bringing the Mediterranean offshore racing season to a close, the Rolex Middle Sea Race is a favourite with the International Maxi Association membership: George David is once again entered with his regular line honours winner Rambler 88 and will be hoping to break his own 2007 monohull course record of 47 hours, 55 minutes and 3 seconds.
Rear Commodore of the Royal Malta Yacht Club Georges Bonello Dupuis commented: "We will have two people here who started the race 50 years ago: John Ripard Senior and Alan Green from the RORC. Other guests will include Sir Robin Knox-Johnston and Admiral Giovanni Iannucci. We are looking forward to celebrating the RMSR's birthday with these legends and hope to make this race one to remember."
Starting on the same day will be the fifth Venice Hospitality Challenge, organised by Yacht Club Venezia. This will see ten maxi yachts competing, each teamed up a well-known Venetian hotel, including the world famous Gritti Palace. Racing will take place on the San Marco basin. Among this year’s participants will be the 36m Maxi Dolphin Viriella of IMA member Vittorio Moretti.