After five days of grueling and fiercely competitive open water racing, the most precise among the teams that took on the 2018 Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup and Rolex Maxi 72 World Champioship rightfully topped their respective classes.
The pinnacle event in the Maxi yacht calendar, with races held on September 4-8 around the waters of Sardinia, Italy, was organized by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda (YCCS) together with the International Maxi Association and title sponsor Rolex. It was the 29th running of classic yachting series Rolex has supported since 1985.
While unpredictable weather dampened racing on the first day, all 41 yachts that raced found near-perfect sailing weather during the rest of the competition days. Upon their return to Porto Cervo, the winning yachts were determined as Topaz in Supermaxi, Grande Orazio in Maxi, Momo in the Rolex Maxi 72 Class, Lyra in Wally and SuperNikka and H2O in Mini Maxi Group 1 and Group 2, respectively.
The Supermaxi class, in which yachts larger than 30.5 meters compete, saw the classic 1930s lines of the three J Class yachts—Topaz, Svea and Velsheda, all built to compete in America’s Cup—take head-on the power of the ultra-modern My Song and Viriella. In the end it was the oldies which triumphed, with all three finishing ahead of their sophisticated super-yacht rivals.
As it turned out the Maxi class was also a battle of contrasting forces. The winning entry, Grande Orazio, is actually a dual-purpose yacht designed for both racing and cruising—it has a fully equipped interior to go with its performance-oriented hull. Meanwhile, its closest opponent, Rambler, is a full-bore racing yacht kitted with all the latest technological innovations in materials, equipment and sail design.
Equally interesting is the development in Rolex Maxi 72—the class’s winner was already determined on the regatta’s penultimate day. Defending champion Momo left nothing to chance as the lightning-quick racer aimed for its second world championship. Over the seven-race Rolex Maxi 72 World Championship, Momo dropped only one point, scoring six bullets/first places and a second spot, to build a commanding lead over its nearest rival.
Six entries, including three stunning Wallycentos, raced in the Wally class, providing a show of the latest yacht designs. While it was expected the battle will be played out between three 30.5-meter contenders, it was the much smaller Lyra, measuring only 23.98 meters that clinched the title.
The competition in Mini Maxi, reserved for the smallest yachts, did not disappoint either. With 19 boats entered in the class (divided into two groups), it represented the bulk of contenders. Both groups were convincingly won by teams defending their titles from 2017. Group 1 winner SuperNikka topped five races and placed second in two while Group 2’s H2O put in the performance of the regatta by winning all seven races that mixed coastal and windward/leeward courses. Post-event, the yacht’s tactician confirmed precision was crucial to its success, saying; “Timing is 100% important. . . Not losing a single meter is key. You see the results when you lose or win by a few seconds.”
Such dependence on timekeeping makes Rolex a natural partner in the elite world of yachting, with which the brand has been associated since the late 1950s. Today, Rolex is the title sponsor in 15 major international events, from leading offshore races such as the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, Rolex Middle Sea Race and the biennial Rolex Fastnet Race, to top-level competitions like the Rolex TP52 World Championship, as well as the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup and the Rolex Swan Cup. It also maintains a close relationship with the most prestigious yacht clubs across the world, with the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, Yacht Club Italiano, YCCS, New York Yacht Club, and the Royal Yacht Squadron among the most notable.