Hap Fauth’s Bella Mente retained his title at the head of the Rolex Maxi 72 World Championship fleet. Photo ©: ROLEX / Carlo Borlenghi
A record-sized fleet of 52 of the world’s largest performance yachts gathered in Porto Cervo, Sardinia in early September for this year’s Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, organised by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda and the International Maxi Association. Sadly the first two days were blown off, thanks to winds gusting 35-40 knots, but this didn’t dampen spirits for the rest of the regatta.
International Maxi Association President Thomas Bscher’s Wally 107 Open Season. Photo ©: ROLEX / Carlo Borlenghi
Entries ranged from 60ft (18m) designs including Gérard Logel’s Swan 601 @robas and the Wally 60 Wallyño, up to the giant 163ft (49.7m) Ohana. Racing took place across eight classes, the largest of which was for the 13 Wally yachts. Thomas Bscher’s Wally 107, Open Season, dominated this class, winning four of the seven races to finish the regatta with a 10-point advantage. However, going into the last race there was a four-way battle for second overall. A win in this race lifted Jean-Charles Decaux’s Wally 77 J One into second overall, just one point ahead of the Wally 80 Tango G.
The Super Maxi Class saw a formidable line-up of 115ft yachts, including Irvine Laidlaw’s new Swan 115 Highland Fling 15, plus two high performance carbon fibre one-offs from Baltic Yachts, Nikata and WinWin. This year also saw the return of Sir Peter Harrison’s Farr 115 ketch, Sojana, following a lengthy refit, along with two J Class yachts, Velsheda and Lionheart. Kim Schindelhauer’s 108ft (33m) WinWin won both the first race and the final one to take an overall win in this class ahead of Velsheda and Inoui.
Kim Schindelhauer’s 108ft WinWin scored a final race win to claim the Super Maxi class prize. Photo ©: ROLEX / Carlo Borlenghi
Reflecting on this year’s event, Thomas Bscher, owner of Open Season and President of the International Maxi Association, said: “I think we’ve had one of the best events I can remember. The big boats came back, so there will be good growth in that fleet over the next couple of years. Today you can have a 120 footer that’s as nimble as a 100 footer of 10 years ago. And there are more of them and they are wonderful boats.” A measure of the interest in this type of racing among owners of very large yachts is that Bscher expects 10 more boats to be at next year’s event.