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Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup: An Exemplary Performance


The 2021 Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup featured a 44 boat fleet which, over the course of the weeklong regatta, delivered an impressive display of prowess and performance. Organized by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda (YCCS), in conjunction with the International Maxi Association (IMA) and in partnership with Rolex since 1985, this annual regatta has a reputation for attracting dedicated owners, highly-skilled crews and exceptional yachts. The 31st edition lived up to expectation, an inspiring event in uncertain times.

Divided into five principal classes based on size and potential, the winners were: Velsheda (Supermaxi); Magic Carpet Cubed (Maxi); Cannonball (Mini Maxi 1); Capricorno (Mini Maxi 2) and Lyra (Mini Maxi 3).

With the final day of racing lost through a lack of wind, overall results favoured those yachts that performed superbly from the outset and maintained a high level of consistency throughout the event. Racing challenged the preparation and mindset of the competitors, starting in light airs and ending with a crescendo as the fourth day provided the biggest winds of the week. Those teams exhibiting the strongest will, the keenest experience and the sharpest intuition proved the most successful.

Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup

First held in 1980 and biennial until 1999, the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup has evolved under the mindful stewardship of the host club and the governing body of the class. Together with long-term title sponsor, Rolex, this bold partnership has ensured the regatta continues to keep pace with the development of the maxi yacht.

YCCS Commodore Michael Illbruck said of the partnership: “We are like-minded people, it is intrinsic that we want to do things well.” While Benoit de Froidment, President of the IMA, was delighted with the standard of the regatta, particularly in light of the preceding 18 months of global uncertainty: “It was a great event this year. We were not expecting this many boats. The quality of the organisation on the land, on the dock and on the water has been extremely high, so too the level of competition.” He went on to highlight a special ingredient: “The real success this week is that everyone has been happy to be here.”

Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup
The bowman prepares for a headsail change

Lindsay Owen-Jones, owner of Magic Carpet Cubed and a seven-time winner over 20 years of participation was thrilled to have come top of the high-calibre Maxi division, featuring a mix of pure-racers such as Comanche and Rambler, as well as performance cruisers such as his own yacht and Galateia, a winner here in 2017. “There are always two very strong reasons for being here. It is everybody’s favourite because of the islands and the way the geography creates wonderful racing. Plus, the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup has been, for so long, the event we all want to win,” commented Owen-Jones, adding: “There is a third reason, this year, and that is that a very varied fleet of maxis has produced some very exciting racing.”

Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup
Close racing in the Maxi class

In the Supermaxi class, which included two J Class yachts – one a restored original and the other a replica of a 1935 design – it was the classic Velsheda that outperformed her close rival Topaz and the rest of the field.

Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup
Topaz (L) and Velsheda are examples of the magnifcent J Class

In Mini Maxi 1, Dario Ferrari’s Italian crew on Cannonball, defended their 2019 title against stiff competition in the form of Vesper, Proteus, and Bella Mente, which all finished within three-points of the victor.

Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup
Cannonball was defending her 2019 title

Mini Maxi 2 and Mini Maxi 3 were both won by runaway leaders which rarely put a foot wrong. Alessandro Del Bono’s Capricorno and Terry Hui’s Lyra, respectively, keeping sufficient distance between themselves and the chasing pack.

Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup
Capricorno established a strong lead in her Mini Maxi class

The Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup has unrivalled status in the world of maxi racing and deservedly so. It brings together a formidable combination of exceptional location, impeccable organization and skilled competitor that is unmatched. After an enforced hiatus in 2020, this year’s edition has been an inspiration and confirms a bright future for the class.

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