The curtain closed on the 19th edition of the Rolex Swan Cup and Swan 45 World Championship with a superb final day of brisk wind and choppy seas putting the 125 competing yachts through their paces on the regatta course off Porto Cervo.
In a record edition of the event organized at the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda which also marked the 50th anniversary of the Nautor's Swan shipyard, the overall winners in the various divisions after four race days are: Freya (Maxi), Arobas (Mini Maxi), Music (Grand Prix), Sleeper (Sparkman & Stephens) and Natalia (Swan 42). The new Swan 45 World Champion is Elena Nova di Christian Plump.
Elena Nova - World Champion Swan 45. Rolex Swan Cup & Swan 45 World Championship 2016. Photo Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi
A third bullet in today's race put the final seal on overall victory for Don Macpherson's Swan 90 Freya in the Maxi division. Plis Play, owned by Vicente Garcia Torres, stole into second place overall ahead of Wendy Schmidt's Swan 80 Selene, which had entered the day on equal points with Freya but suffered technical problems during today's race.
Macpherson was naturally delighted,
"We had to sail a good race, be conservative but get out at the front early. We did well when the wind came in and today averaged 17 knots. I couldn't be happier and feel very humbled to win at the Rolex Swan Cup. We really enjoyed the competition. I was sorry to see that Selene broke down this afternoon, we were neck and neck throughout the regatta and it's a very well raced boat."
Gerard Logel's Arobas will have fond memories of Porto Cervo as she adds her first victory in the Rolex Swan Cup to a second place finish in last week's Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup. Things could not have been closer in this division as Japan's Yasha took second on equal points with Arobas. Riccardo Pavoncelli's Gaetana took third place just three points behind.
James Blakemore's Swan 53 boasts a perfect winning streak with four victories in the four races run. The battle for second place in the Grand Prix division saw another Swan 53, Crilia, pip Solenia II to the post by just half a point, thanks to a second place finish in today's race.
Sparkman and Stephens
Amongst the 35-boat fleet of classic Sparkman and Stephens designs dating as far back as 1966 the overall winner, with a third consecutive bullet today, was Sleeper X owned by Jonty Layfield. Vincenzo Onorato's Mascalzone Latino took second place while Rob Marbly's Sarabande moved up to a podium place for the first time this week to claim third overall.
New Swan 45 World Champion, Germany's Elena Nova showed stunning form throughout the week and with a discard coming into play today was able to extend her lead to 11 points ahead of Holland's Esthec, with Bouwe Bekking on tactics. Four-time World Champion Earlybird had to settle for the bronze medal this time round.
Christian Plump, owner of Elena Nova: ""We had a good run all week. The competition was good and that is what makes racing interesting. The five leading boats were equal in speed so it was a question of boat handling and tactics and here in Porto Cervo there is always a surprise with the changing winds. It is never predictable."
The Swan 42 one-design class also featured a stand-out winner as Romania's Natalia clinched her third consecutive Rolex Swan Cup victory. A bullet in today's race brought her to a total of six over eight races run and left her a comfortable 10 points ahead of Renzo Grottesi's Bewild. Spanish boat Pez de Abril, which suffered damage earlier in the week, took the final spot on the podium.
Natalia Brailoiu, at the helm on Natalia,
"I am very happy to be back at the Rolex Swan Cup as I have not sailed the boat for two years since the last edition. It is always the entire team working together that makes it successful. Good upwinds and keeping the boat speed constant are important."
Special prizes were also awarded for Line Honours - for the fastest average speed during the race - which went to the Swan 115 Highland Fling. The YCCS award for the highest placed club member went to Marietta Strasoldo's Lunz Am Meer while Checkmate took the Swan 45 Corinthian prize.
Freya - 1st place Maxi. Rolex Swan Cup 2016. Photo Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi
Arobas - 1st place Mini Maxi. Rolex Swan Cup 2016. Photo Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi
Music - 1st place Grand Prix. Rolex Swan Cup 2016. Photo Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi
Sleeper X - 1st place Sparkman & Stephens. Rolex Swan Cup 2016. Photo Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi
Natalia - 1st place Swan 42. Rolex Swan Cup 2016. Photo Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi
The YCCS sporting calendar continues next week with a host of international yacht clubs gathering from 22nd to 25th September for the Sailing Champions League European final.
The Yacht Club Costa Smeralda was founded in Porto Cervo, Sardinia in 1967 by current president H.H. the Aga Khan and a group of founder-members as a non-profit sporting association for fellow sailing enthusiasts. The YCCS is renowned for organizing international sailing events such as the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, the Audi Sardinia Cup and the Rolex Swan Cup as well as World and European championships for top one-design fleets. In recent years the Club has focused on promoting new superyacht events such as the Loro Piana Superyacht Regatta, the Dubois Cup and the Perini Navi Cup.
The Club has also promoted international challenges such as Azzurra - the first Italian challenger for the America's Cup in 1983 which became a legendary Italian brand and was relaunched by the YCCS in 2009 with a victorious participation in the Louis Vuitton Trophy in Nice, the participation in the Volvo Ocean Race with a two boat campaign one of which had an all-female crew, and the motor yacht Destriero which to this day holds the transatlantic crossing record set in 1992. The YCCS continues to expand its activities and in 2012 inaugurated its winter base in Virgin Gorda overlooking the island's new YCCS Marina.