The 2021 Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup delivered an impressive performance this past week in Porto Cervo. This was my second time at this prestigious event, and I count myself lucky to have been a witness to this spectacle of classic and modern race boats competing in the beautiful waters of Sardinia.
A strong legacy
Organised 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 the expectation – such an inspiration in these 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 due to a lack of wind, overall results favoured the yachts which maintained a high level of consistency throughout the event. Racing was challenging starting in light airs and ending on the fourth day with the biggest winds of the week.
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, Rambler 88 (with SA’s Jan Dekker onboard) and Leopard (with SA’s Paul Standbridge and Matthew Whitehead onboard), as well as performance cruisers such as Galateia, a winner here in 2017 (with SA’s Paul Willcox onboard). “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.”
It’s never over till it’s over
Irvine Laidlaw’s Highland Fling was leading the Maxi division till Thursday when their headstay broke. In true sporting style, and with much goodwill they flew the parts and a team out from Switzerland to rebuild the stay. As Friday was a lay-day they managed to get the boat racing-ready for Saturday. Unfortunately, there was no racing on Saturday due to a lack of wind, so they didn’t get the chance to sail their way back to the podium. Highland Fling came into the regatta as the defending Champs and they were well on their way to another podium place. But this is yachting, and it’s never over till it’s over. South African’s racing onboard this year included Hylton Hale, Michael Giles, Daniel Lawrence and Sascha Smith.
The Supermaxi class 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 (with SA’s Mike Pammenter onboard) 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 (with SA’s Shaun Pammenter onboard), and Bella Mente, which all finished within three-points of Cannonbal.
Mini Maxi 2 and Mini Maxi 3 were both won by runaway leaders, Alessandro Del Bono’s Capricorno and Terry Hui’s Lyra, (with South African’s Mark Sadler and Marc Lagesse onboard).
Watch the racing highlights below.
Final round up