Intense 2024 sporting season for the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda


20/03/2024 - 17:00

The Yacht Club Costa Smeralda’s 2024 sporting season was presented today in Milan at Casa Gessi, moderated by Sky Sports commentator Giovanni Bruno. 

Princess Zahra Aga Khan, President of the Board of Directors of the YCCS opened the event, thanking those present and highlighting: "The upcoming sporting season at the YCCS will certainly be an intense one, with regattas scheduled from May to October. This year also marks a significant anniversary: 40 years of collaboration with our longstanding partner Rolex. A strong and solid bond that has seen us share values, ideals, and projects for the creation of a sporting calendar of international relevance over these four decades. Naturally the support of all the other partners, as well as the commitment of the YCCS management and staff, also constitute fundamental elements that have allowed our Club to become a point of reference in the sailing world. We constantly follow the evolution of sailing through each one of our activities and programmes, seeking to adapt to the times in which we live, while keeping traditions alive. Through the sport of sailing we have the opportunity to promote guiding principles, from excellence and innovation, to respect for the sea and the region that hosts us, and support for the next generations." The other partners supporting the YCCS are Range Rover and Allianz, while Quantum Sails, Slam, Garmin Marine and Technogym are technical partners.

Following the greeting from the Princess, YCCS Secretary General and Sports Director, Edoardo Recchi, took to the stage for the official presentation of the regatta calendar. Immediately after the RAN 630 - Regata dell’Accademia Navale, scheduled from 24 April to 1 May, where the Club offers its technical support as the fleet rounds the course mark off the Sardinian coast, the 2024 season in Porto Cervo will kick off with the traditional Vela & Golf event (24-26 May), followed by the Giorgio Armani Superyacht Regatta, scheduled from 4 to 8 June. For the third consecutive year Giorgio Armani, an Italian icon in the world of fashion, will support the YCCS as title sponsor of the event. Building on the success of past editions, the Southern Wind Rendezvous and Trophy will take place as part of the Giorgio Armani Superyacht Regatta, which sees yachts from the Southern Wind yard gather in Porto Cervo for a sailing event characterised by a spirit of camaraderie and sportsmanship. A busy month of June will continue with three more regattas slated. The J/24 Class will return to the YCCS for the J/24 European Championship from 10 to 16 June. Created in the late 1970s by Rod Johnstone, the J/24 one-design is one of the most popular keelboats in the world, with more than 5,000 units estimated to have been produced to date and around 100 fleets active internationally. The J/24 European Championship is a highly anticipated event in the 2024 calendar for the class and the YCCS is delighted to welcome a fleet that has made a significant contribution to the popularity of competitive sailing. The last event dedicated to the J/24 Class in Porto Cervo dates back to 1996, and this season sees another eagerly awaited return with the Grand Soleil Cup, a sailing event organised in collaboration with Cantiere del Pardo with a fleet of around 40 boats expected to attend. The month will conclude with the Smeralda 888 Invitational (28-30 June), followed by the traditional Coppa Europa Smeralda 888 (12-14 July) aboard the Smeralda 888 craft, conceived by renowned yacht designer German Frers especially for the YCCS. From 19-21 July the fourth edition of the YCCS J/70 Sailing Clinic will take place.

During the short break held over July and August, the YCCS Members Championship reserved for Club members (4 August) will take place, preceded on 3 August by the Annual General Meeting at which the new YCCS Commodore will be elected. August will host the Formenton Trophy (20th August) and the Palermo-Porto Cervo-Montecarlo, regattas in which the YCCS offers technical support.

Centre, Princess Zahra Aga Khan, President of the YCCS Board of Directors, left Stefan Muller, General Manager of Rolex Italy, right Edoardo Recchi, YCCS Secretary General. Photo credit: Studio Borlenghi

The Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup (8-14 September) and the Rolex Swan Cup (15-21 September) will mark a special September. As always, an impressive fleet highlighting the very best of yachting, throughout its history, will gather for the 34th edition of the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, organised in collaboration with the International Maxi Association (IMA). In 2023, for example, the J Class and the classic yacht Baruna of 1938 were present alongside recent projects such as Pier Luigi Loro Piana's My Song, Andrea Recordati's Bullitt, and the very latest launches such as the Wally 101 Y3K. The inclusion of catamarans in the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup for the first time last year met with great success, and will be repeated for the 2024 edition. 

The Rolex Swan Cup is a biennial event celebrating the virtuous partnership between title sponsor Rolex, the Nautor Swan shipyard and the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda, who are celebrating 40 years of collaboration in 2024. The event attracts a large fleet of yachts representing the entire history of the Nautor Swan family. Taking part in the 22nd edition of the Rolex Swan Cup for the first time will be the ClubSwan 43 and ClubSwan 28 classes, fresh from their launch this year. The Rolex Swan Cup is a benchmark event both internationally and in the YCCS sporting calendar, distinguished by the unique family spirit that has characterised it since its inception.

The season will conclude with the Etchells European Championship, taking place after the Smeralda Cup. The regattas, open to all Etchells boats, are scheduled from 1 to 6 October. Racing for the Smeralda Cup will take place on 2 and 3 October, as a warm-up competition ahead of the European Championship running from 4 to 6 October. The championship will follow the open format, allowing teams from outside of Europe to take part, without competing for the title. The Ethcells is a one-design keelboat class. With an overall length of 30.5 feet (9.3 metres) and measuring 22 feet (6.71 metres) at the waterline, its elegant lines were designed by American Skip Ethcells in the mid-1960s as part of a design competition to produce a new three-person Olympic class boat, although the Soling was chosen in the end.

During the course of the 2024 season, sustainability will remain one of the central themes promoted by the Club. Members, owners and sailors will be made aware of the principles of respect for and preservation of the marine environment contained in the Charta Smeralda, the One Ocean Foundation's code of ethics. The annual YCCS Clean Beach Day will take place, an event that involves the local community in a morning of beach cleaning accompanied by a lesson from biologists, usually organised on 8 June to mark World Oceans Day. YCCS regattas will also adhere to the Clean Regattas programme drawn up by Sailors for the Sea, an international non-profit organisation that has developed ad hoc certifications for sail racing. In this context, depending on the requirements met on the check list drawn up by the organisation, the certificates issued can range from bronze to platinum level. In 2023, all the major YCCS regattas - the Giorgio Armani Superyacht Regatta, The Nations Trophy - Swan One Design, the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, the Scandinavian Gold Cup and the International 5.5 Metre Class World Championship - were awarded Gold Clean Regattas certification. With the aim of reducing environmental impact, MarkSetBot robotic buoys will once again be used this season, which maintain their position thanks to an electric motor combined with a GPS system, eliminating the need for anchors on the seabed.

The Young Azzurra athletes during the Press Conference, L-R: Maddalena Spanu, Cesare Barabino and Federico Pilloni. Photo credit: Studio Borlenghi

At the end of the presentation of the YCCS 2024 sports calendar, moderator Giovanni Bruno introduced a video clip dedicated to the 40th anniversary of the partnership between the YCCS and Rolex. In the short clip, the story of the partnership is narrated by Princess Zahra Aga Khan. Starting from her childhood memories of the quays of Porto Cervo, crowded with sailors from all over the world taking part in the regattas that would make the name of the YCCS and go down in the history books of yachting, the Princess underlines the values shared with Rolex which underpin the longstanding collaboration.

Participants also enjoyed a surprise video message from Italian tennis champion and Rolex testimonee Jannik Sinner, who sent his best wishes for the 2024 sporting season on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the Rolex-YCCS partnership. The video was preceded by a speech from the General Manager of Rolex Italy, Stefan Muller, who thanked the YCCS for the rewarding collaboration.

The excitement continued with the presentation of the latest athlete to have joined the ranks of the Young Azzurra programme. Born in Sardinia, Italy in 2006, Maddalena Spanu quickly made a name for herself in the world of board sports. Her sporting adventures began when she took up surfing at just 4 years of age, followed at 6 by a passion for windsurfing. In 2021, she took up the challenge of Wingfoil racing, quickly emerging as one of the top athletes nationally and internationally. 2023 proved to be a year of success and personal fulfilment for Maddalena, culminating in winning the Wingfoil World Championship in Brasil. Joining Maddalena on the stage were the other two athletes in the Young Azzurra programme, Cesare Barabino (ILCA 7 Class) and Federico Pilloni (reigning European Youth iQFOiL Champion), who talked about their respective competitive programmes for the 2024 season. The Young Azzurra sports programme was launched in 2020 by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda to support young, emerging talents in Italian sailing, with a focus on equal opportunities. The project was created and will continue to evolve bearing the name and the legacy of Azzurra and sees the YCCS committed to supporting young up-and-coming sailors for the four-year period 2021/2024 who are looking to take part in national, European and World Championships and the Olympic Games. Also attending the YCCS press conference was the President of the Italian Sailing Federation, Francesco Ettorre, who spoke on stage during the presentation of the Young Azzurra athlete Maddalena Spanu, recalling how important these types of programmes are to support young people in their sailing careers.

ORC and One Design will open the 53 Trofeo Princesa Sofía Mallorca
CRN delivers the M/Y 139 megayacht