By Anandarup Dutta
It is perfect weather in Antibes, the beautiful Mediterranean French town on the Côte d’Azur. And for the yachting enthusiast, the kick off of the 2015 Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge event is a high point in the season. All of eighty stunning Classic and Vintage sailing yachts sparkled against the blue waters, to participate in this event.
As the title sponsor of the yachting event, the luxury watch maker Officine Panerai has historic links to the sea, by virtue of being the official supplier of precision instruments to the Italian Navy in general, and its specialist diving corps in particular, for decades, in the early years. It is to honour these links, Officine Panerai has promoted classic sailing culture for many years through its sponsorship of the Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge, the leading international circuit for these vintage craft.
This year, for the 11th year running, the elite watchmaker has been the leading sponsor of the les voiles d’Antibes, the first Mediterranean Round of the Officine Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge which drew to a spectacular close on the 7th of June. The four winning yachts were the Chinook (1916) in the Vintage category, Il Moro di Venezia (1976) in the Classic, Mariska (1908) in the Big Boats and Freya (2003) in the Spirit of Tradition. The four winning yacht owners were presented with an Officine Panerai luxury sports watch apiece. Officine Panerai remains the world’s leading classic sailing event organiser with nine rounds planned for the 2015 calendar in the world’s most beautiful, yacht-friendly sea scapes; and, its creation of the Luminor 1950 Regatta 3 Days Chrono Flyback Titanio, a chronograph designed specifically to bring a simple resolution to race countdowns.
Like every year, the 2015 edition too saw a heavy influence of tradition on the Mediterranean circuit, with two of the four winners, the Chinook and the Il Moro di Venezia having been regulars on the circuit since 2013 with the latter’s eyes set firmly upon the top podium position once again, having already won the 2013 Vintage Category. The Mariska, one of the only four 15 metre International Classes still in action, made an impressive debut this year in the Big Boats category and will look to put as much distance between her and her closest competitors as possible (particularly, a quaint, but gigantic Moonbeam IV, 1914), in the upcoming rounds. The Bermudan sloop Freya finished first in all three of her races in the Spirit of Tradition, leaving assiduous Panerai regulars of the likes of Savannah, Ilhabela II, Kis and Nazgul of Fordell in her wake.
An intriguing addition to this year’s edition is the Challenge of Challenge, which is inspired by the spirit of the gentleman races of the past. Being a small part of the larger event, this segment allows two crafts within the same category to compete with each other for a small win with no handicaps or protests, which in a nutshell means that the boat that crosses the finish mark first, takes the honours, no questions asked. Two centenarians, Lulu and The Eva, both vintage gaff cutters, took part in the first Challenge of Challenges, on the Antibes which, on being won comfortably by the Eva, made way for some light hearted frivolity when the crew of the Lulu were presented with Eva t-shirts. The crew of the Lulu donned them sportingly enough, representing everything that this competition stands for – integrity, respect and sportsmanship. Since then, the 2015 edition has continued with the Argentario Sailing Week (Porto Santo Stefano, 18-21 June). Hereafter, it moves to Mahon for the XII Copa del Rey (Minorca, 25-29 August). It concludes at Cannes with Les Régates Royales (22-26 September).
The Florentine luxury sports watchmaker Officine Panerai remains the world’s leading classic sailing event organizer with nine rounds planned for the 2015 calendar in the world’s most beautiful, tradition-rich waters. Officine Panerai also underscored its links to classic sailing by creating the Luminor 1950 Regatta 3 Days Chrono Flyback Titanio, a chronograph designed specifically to bring a revolutionary simplicity to race countdowns. The 2015 Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge Mediterranean Circuit continues with the Argentario Sailing Week (Porto Santo Stefano, 18-21 June), before moving to Mahon for the XII Copa del Rey (Minorca, 25-29 August). It concludes at Cannes with Les Régates Royales (22-26 September).
Specifications of boats for Classic and Vintage rallies
The boats that take part in classic and vintage boat rallies and regattas are divided into three different categories: Vintage Yachts, Classic Yachts and Spirit of Tradition. The measurement and racing rule for Vintage and Classic Yachts is periodically published by the Comité International de la Méditerranée (Cim). It defines Vintage Yachts as being built from wood or metal and launched before December 31st 1949 , while Classic Yachts are built from metal or wood and launched before December 31st 1975 . The Spirit of Tradition Yachts are craft which are built after 1970, along classic lines, but using modern materials and techniques. They must have a look that is true to traditional designs. Other categories are Replica Vintage Yachts (craft that regardless of their launch date have been built in compliance with pre-1950 designs) and Replica Classic Yachts (craft that regardless of their launch date, have been built in compliance with pre-1976 designs).