The event affectionately known as ‘the Maxis’ is one of international sailing’s most important and revered competitions. It is the gathering of the Maxi yacht world for the leading owners and designers that propel Maxi design forward. It is also a contest renowned for its highly-competitive, dramatic action pitting the world’s greatest professional sailing talent against each other on cutting edge monohull yachts competing in various classes including Supermaxi, Wally and the enthralling Rolex Maxi 72 World Championship.
Organised by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda (YCCS) and the International Maxi Association (IMA), the event is widely respected for its excellent race management, the quality and appeal of its alluring sailing environment and the sophisticated array of off the water activities hosted during the week. Rolex has partnered the event since 1985, a cornerstone of its proud and long association with yachting.
The 2015 fleet is diverse and exciting. The standout new entry is the Ken Read-skippered 100-ft Maxi Comanche from the United States. Comanche arrives in excellent form having taken line honours at the recent Rolex Fastnet Race. Other yachts in the 100-ft range include two perennial Porto Cervo winners; Sir Lindsay Owen-Jones with his Wally class-defending champion Magic Carpet Cubed and four-time Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup winner, Y3K (GER) owned by IMA President Claus-Peter Offen. Leonardo Ferragamo’s new Swan 115S Solleone will grace the emerald waters of the Costa Smeralda for the first time although the week’s largest yacht is also the competition’s record-breaker. The sight of the mammoth 66.7m/218.8ft Hetairos (CAY), returning to the racecourse for the first time since 2012, will leave speechless those witnessing her grace and power for the first time.
Competition in the 14-strong Wally class promises to be fierce, equally that in the Rolex Maxi 72 World Championship. Here, it is hard to identify a clear favourite. The newest boat is Dieter Schoen’s MOMO (IVB) an impressive performer at the recent Rolex Fastnet. Last year’s winning boat – Alegre – is now owned by Swiss Alexander Schaerer and sailing as Caol Ila R (GBR) and faces competition from Hap Fauth’s 2012 champion Bella Mente (USA) together with Sir Peter Ogden’s Jethou (GBR), George Sakellaris’s Shockwave II (USA) – the former Ran V – and the sole Italian contenders, Robertissima III owned by Roberto Tomasini, which finished second on their championship debut last year.
The first of five days of racing at the 2015 Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup commences on Monday 7 September.
Images courtesy of Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi