Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup| It's On! – Sail+Leisure
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Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup| It’s On!

by Simone Balman

Crews have descended on the Yacht Club Costa Smerelda for the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup. The event takes place from 4-10 September. Irvine Laidlaw’s Highland Fling XI (RP82) will take on the fleet for the last time in the hope of ending on a high and defending their 2019 title.

The Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup unites an awe-inspiring sailing environment, outstanding race management and the latest in monohull technology. Key to its success has been the long-standing partnership between Rolex and the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda (YCCS).

A long history

This year marks the 32nd Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup. From its inception, the event has showcased the remarkable potential and transforming evolution of monohull design and technology. The drivers of this innovation are the Maxi yacht owners and design teams who are always striving to push the boundaries, investing considerable time and resources into development.

Five days of racing is scheduled. Organised with the collaboration of the International Maxi Association, the programme offers a combination of intense windward/leeward racing and coastal courses in north-east Sardinia’s Maddalena Archipelago. For navigators in particular, the rocky outcrops and islets offer constant challenges.


The fleet is divided into different classes based on yacht size, performance or design. Competition is intense. Margins at this level of yacht racing are incredibly fine. The prerogative is not to be the best in any single race, but rather through consistency take a much-coveted class victory.

Achieving such consistency demands impeccable teamwork. On yachts measuring from 18.29 metres (60 feet) to more than 40 metres (131 feet) in length, communication is crucial. This is developed through preparation, intense training and, in many cases, years of sailing at the top of the sport. The names of the victorious yachts throughout the event’s history are on display at the entrance to the YCCS’s impressive clubhouse in Porto Cervo. The reward of a class trophy and Rolex timepiece at the final prize-giving is the ultimate validation of success.

Top entries

This year’s entry list is one of the largest in recent editions, with nearly 50 boats registered. Entries include original and replica J-Class yachts, high-performance entries such as the Wallycentos, and stripped-back carbon racers built purely for power and speed. The largest registered yacht at 43.6 metres (143 feet) is the J-Class Svea, based on a 1937 design. The most innovative entry is undoubtedly the 19m (62ft) FlyingNikka, the first ever foiling Mini Maxi making her racing debut. Returning victors from 2021 include Highland Fling XI, Cannonball, Capricorno, Velsheda and Magic Carpet Cubed, the line honours winner at June’s Rolex Giraglia.

Watch live updates on social media and Youtube.


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