Today was the 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 12 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.
Among the debutantes was 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 in February 2014 my friend, Mike Horsley, 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!”.
Enterprise in Mind
For the first time at Argentario Sailing Week we saw sleek Enterprise, designed by Sparkman & 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!”
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 o enjoy 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.”
Tonight at 8 pm the Spanish Fortress will provide a magical setting for the crew dinner organized by the Yacht Club Santo Stefano. After racing on Saturday, the Yacht Club Santo Stefano will hold a Beer & Oyster party and the prize giving ceremony and cocktail party will be held on Sunday, all at the Race Village.
Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge
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).
Founded in Florence in 1860 as a laboratory, shop and watchmaking school, for many years Officine Panerai was a supplier of high precision instruments for the Italian Navy, mostly for the needs of Special Forces divers. The projects developed during this period - including the Luminor and Radiomir watch - were covered by military secret for years and their launch took place on the international market after the acquisition of the brand by the Richemont group in 1997.
Today Officine Panerai develops and produces its own movements and watches in the Neuchâtel facility. The watches represent a synthesis between Italian design and history and Swiss craftsmanship, and are sold worldwide through an exclusive network of distributors and brand boutiques.
The sea represents Panerai’s identity and its place of origin. To honor its historic ties with the sea, for over 10 years Officine Panerai has been committed to sustaining the culture of classic sailing through the sponsorship of the Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge, the leading international circuit for classic and vintage yachts. In 2007, Panerai bought and restored the Bermudian ketch Eilean, built in 1936 by the legendary yard Fife, in Fairlie, now brand ambassador during the classic yacht regattas.
*Images courtesy of Panerai Classic Yacht Challenge