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.
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.”
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
Rolex and Yachting
Rolex has always associated with activities driven by passion, excellence, precision and team spirit. The Swiss watchmaker naturally gravitated towards the elite world of yachting six decades ago and the brand’s enduring partnership now encompasses the most prestigious clubs, races and regattas, as well as towering figures in the sport, including ground-breaking round-the-world yachtsman Sir Francis Chichester and the most successful Olympic sailor of all time, Sir Ben Ainslie. Today, Rolex is Title Sponsor of 15 major international events – from leading offshore races such as the annual Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race and the biennial Rolex Fastnet Race, to grand prix competition at the Rolex TP52 World Championship and spectacular gatherings at the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup and the Rolex Swan Cup. It also supports the exciting SailGP global championship in which national teams race identical supercharged F50 catamarans on some of the world’s most famous harbours. Rolex’s partnerships with the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, Royal Ocean Racing Club, Yacht Club Costa Smeralda, Yacht Club Italiano, New York Yacht Club and Royal Yacht Squadron, among others, are the foundation of its enduring relationship with this dynamic sport.
About Rolex: an onrivalled reputation for quality and expertise
Rolex is an integrated and independent Swiss watch manufacture. Headquartered in Geneva, the brand is recognized the world over for its expertise and the quality of its products – symbols of excellence, elegance and prestige. The movements of its Oyster Perpetual and Cellini watches are certified by COSC, then tested in-house for their precision, performance and reliability. The Superlative Chronometer certification, symbolized by the green seal, confirms that each watch has successfully undergone tests conducted by Rolex in its own laboratories according to its own criteria. These are periodically validated by an independent external organization. The word “Perpetual” is inscribed on every Rolex Oyster watch. But more than just a word on a dial, it is a philosophy that embodies the company’s vision and values. Hans Wilsdorf, the founder of the company, instilled a notion of perpetual excellence that would drive the company forward. This led Rolex to pioneer the development of the wristwatch and numerous major watchmaking innovations, such as the Oyster, the first waterproof wristwatch, launched in 1926, and the Perpetual rotor self-winding mechanism, invented in 1931. In the course of its history, Rolex has registered over 500 patents. At its four sites in Switzerland, the brand designs, develops and produces the majority of its watch components, from the casting of the gold alloys to the machining, crafting, assembly and finishing of the movement, case, dial and bracelet. Furthermore, the brand is actively involved in supporting the arts and culture, sport and exploration, as well as those who are devising solutions to preserve the planet.