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30th edition of the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup ends by looking ahead

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The 30th edition of the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup
The 30th edition of the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup

The 30th edition of the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup enhanced this famous regatta's reputation as a must do event on the international circuit, delivering a week of pulsating action, consummate skill and elevated performance.


Organized by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda (YCCS), in partnership with Rolex since 1985 and in conjunction with the International Maxi Association, the contest is the pinnacle of large monohull yacht racing, attracting the best boats, the most passionate owners and the finest crews. A fleet of 53 yachts were in attendance at the 2019 Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup. Sub-divided into eight classes based on size and potential, the eventual winners were: Velsheda (Supermaxi); Highland Fling XI (Maxi Racer); Nefertiti (Maxi Racer/ Cruiser); Cannonball (Mini Maxi Racer 1); Supernikka (Mini Maxi Racer 2); Lyra (Wally); Flow (Mini Maxi Racer/Cruiser); and, H2O (Mini Maxi Cruiser/Racer).

Many of the outcomes were resolved on the final day, reflecting a superb week of varied conditions and demanding courses, confirming the health of the Maxi class and the brightness of its future. Crews were tested on every single day of racing, particularly on the fourth when a challenging Mistral wind exploited any weakness in preparation, crew work or commitment. Loads on sails, lines, winches and rigging increased and so, too, did the pressure. As is so often the case in elite sport, those who responded with resilience and determination claimed richly deserved victories.

A partnership in excellence
The Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup was first held in 1980. Biennial until 1999, the event has grown with each edition evolving in step with the design developments within the Maxi fleet, ensuring the competition is relevant and enticing. "The Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup is an iconic sailing competition known all around the world," asserts YCCS Commodore Riccardo Bonadeo, a winner of the event himself in 1995 and 2000 with Rrose Selavy. "There is no other regatta quite like it, it attracts a large fleet and it needs absolutely top organization."

Bonadeo is quick to acknowledge that the YCCS has not been alone in achieving the high standards of the regatta. "From the beginning, we have been assisted by Rolex who are a partner much more than supporter," he explains. The Rolex Testimonee, Paul Cayard, a former Maxi world champion and round the world race winner, identifies the importance of the Swiss watch brand to the event and wider world of yachting. "What is particularly important and valuable about Rolex's involvement in sailing is the longevity of it," comments Cayard. "This stems from a deep passion and commitment to the sport of sailing. Rolex is not just here in Porto Cervo at the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, but in Australia at the Rolex Sydney Hobart, in San Francisco next week at the Rolex Big Boat Series. Rolex is in the Rolex Fastnet Race, in the Rolex Middle Sea Race and, now, SailGP. The brand has had a comprehensive involvement in the sport for a very long time, 60 years. That is very valuable."

The tightest of competition
Each division was defined by differing stories. Nefertiti's victory in Maxi Racer/ Cruiser was by the tightest of separations and testament to the adage "never give up". Saving her best performance to the last race, Nefertiti took advantage of the equipment failure that led to the withdrawal of the early class leader, Vera, and then an uncharacteristically poor result for Allsmoke, which had assumed the lead from Vera. Moving from third to first overall, Nefertitisecured victory by virtue of a higher number of better individual race results.

In Mini Maxi Racer 1, the Italian crew of Cannonball knew that to be certain of victory they needed to ensure the regatta debutante, Vesper, did not win the final race. In the critical moments before the start, Cannonball was able to gain an advantage over Vesper and push her down the fleet. It was then a matter of covering their American rivals and staying between them and the finish. The defining essence of the class win was consistency during the series; greater experience was simply used to snuff out the last glimmer of a challenge.

The five days of enthralling racing have proved once again that the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup is worthy of its unrivalled status in the world of big boat racing and that winning requires an unflinching commitment to excellence. At the final prize giving respect was paid to the winners, the history of the event was celebrated and all involved looked forward to the future.


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