While holidaymakers flock to Sardinia to enjoy stunning beaches and sweltering August temperatures, staff at the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda (YCCS) are hard at work preparing for two major international regattas in September.
The Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup (31 August - 6September) and the Rolex Swan Cup (8 - 14 September) will see thousands of sailors from around the globe flock to the exclusive resort of Porto Cervo for 2 weeks of world-class sailing. Each of the events will also play host to an epic battle for the title of World Champion 2014 as first the Mini Maxi class and then the Swan 45 class compete for victory in their respective fleets.
The Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup and Mini Maxi Rolex World Championship will see 36 sailing giants, ranging from sleek racing machines to genteel vintage yachts, line up to compete on coastal - and for some classes windward-leeward - courses over five days of racing. Organized by the YCCS in collaboration with the International Maxi Association, the event has everything from five stunning J-Class yachts (Lionheart, Rainbow, Ranger, Shamrock, Velsheda) to a fleet of eight highly competitive Mini Maxi yachts contending for the class Worlds.
The fleet comprises several yachts that have been regulars at the event for many years, several of which are owned by YCCS Members such as IMA President Claus-Peter Offen with his 30.5 metre Y3K, Sir Lindsay Owen-Jones with the Wally Cento Magic Carpet 3 and Lord Irvine Laidlaw with the 25-metre Highland Fling. Newcomers to the event are the 2013-launched Swan 80 No Timing alongside the modern 44-metre J-Class Lionheart which boasts round-the-world sailor Bouwe Bekking on tactics.
Among the Mini Maxi yachts competition will, as always, be fierce. Niklas Zennstrom, three-time World Champion and current title holder, will be looking to confirm his top spot with his new 2014-launched Ràn while Hap Fauth's Bella Mente, the only other winner of the World title since its institution in 2010, will be keen to return to glory. Italy's Robertissima, owned by YCCS Member Roberto Tomasini Grinover, will also be one to watch: although a newcomer to the class in 2014 the crew, which also competes regularly in superyacht and one-design classes, already claimed victory in the Rolex Capri Sailing Week in May.
The Rolex Swan Cup entry list counts 86 boats representing 21 nationalities and covers the entire spectrum of the Nautor's Swan fleet, from classic Sparkman and Stephens designs to performance one-design models such as the Swan 60 class and luxury cruisers such as the Swan 90. Seven Swan 45 boats - including 2012 winner Earlybird, owned by Nagel and Brandis - will be competing for their annual class World Championship during the event.
The remainder of the fleet will be divided into Maxi, Grand Prix and Classic divisions alongside a 12-boat Swan 42 one-design division. Courses will, as always, provide a mix of coastal and windward-leeward racing in addition to an Islands Long Race scheduled for midweek which could take the fleet as far north as the French islands off Corsica.
While the Swan Cup was first held in 1980, this year's edition marks the 30th anniversary of the enduring collaboration between Rolex, Nautor's Swan and the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda.
For the duration of both the Maxi and Swan events competition on the water will be accompanied by the usual array of exclusive social events ranging from welcome cocktails and owner's dinners to crew parties and daily after-race refreshments and rounding off with the final prize giving in the Piazza Azzurra at the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda.
"These two events represent a fitting conclusion to a busy season of YCCS regattas in both Porto Cervo and Virgin Gorda. The Maxi and Swan regattas, organized together with our partner Rolex, consistently attract the world's top yachts, owners and sailors and we are looking forward to two weeks of competitive sailing and impeccable social events." commented YCCS Commodore Riccardo Bonadeo.
For further information, full entry lists and technical documents please visit the YCCS website or contact the press office.
*Image credits: flickr/Bernhard Sauter
Yacht Club Costa Smeralda©Jeff Brown