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The second half of Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez sets sail tomorrow exclusively for the maxi yachts. Organised by the Société Nautique de Saint-Tropez in conjunction with the International Maxi Association (IMA), the second week of racing has a bumper turn-out of 45 maxis. These range in size from the two magnificent J Class yachts, Topaz and Velsheda, Topaz being fractionally the longer at 140ft (42.7m), down to numerous 60 footers such as IMA President Benoît de Froidmont’s Wally 60 Wallyño.

Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez will be deciding event in the IMA’s Mediterranean Maxi Inshore Challenge, following the Maxi Yacht Capri Trophy, Copa del Rey MAPFRE and the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup (Rolex Giraglia inshores were cancelled).

All are racing under IRC. Here the IMA-defined Maxis (80-100ft) and Super Maxis (100+ft) are competing in IRC1 or IRC2, depending upon their speed. The Mini Maxis (60-80ft) are divided between IRC 3 and 4.

Most of the maxi fleet has been berthed since yesterday in Saint-Tropez’s famously picturesque port, with artists dotted around the quayside along with street performers, classic car rallies and famous bars such as the Sube and Café de Paris. The faster boats moor offshore due to their extreme draft. Among them is George David’s all-conquering Rambler 88, plus, the fastest boat in the fleet, the 100ft Verdier-VPLP designed Comanche and last year’s IRC1 winner, the Farr 100 Leopard, now under Dutch ownership but with many of original owner Mike Slade’s crew still on board.

Foredeck action on George David's Rambler 88. Photo: IMA / Studio BorlenghiForedeck action on George David's Rambler 88. Photo: IMA / Studio Borlenghi

“I think that both here and Porto Cervo are amazing,” said Brad Butterworth, the America’s Cup legend who runs Rambler 88’s racing. “This is on the mainland and is more accessible and the owners like it and the crews love it.” As to how well Rambler 88 may do this week, Butterworth adds: “It depends on what the wind speeds will be. If it is windy it could be quite good, but it is all good fun especially if the sailing is good.”

Also to watch are the local heroes on Sir Lindsay Owen-Jones’ Cogolin-based Wallycento Magic Carpet Cubed, and Claus-Peter Offen’s Y3K, fresh from her second place at the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup. That event was the first ever for American Wendy Schmidt’s crew on her new Botin 85 Deep Blue who will be looking to improve on their performance.

There is one supermaxi – the Swan 115 Odin - competing in IR1, but the majority, including the Js are competing in IRC2. This includes the plush Dubois 121 Silvertip and the immaculate Wally 107 Green Eyes (ex Kauris 3), now owned by Portugal’s Paulo Mirpuri. While the Js will be undertaking their usual match racing, with Topaz hoping to turn the tables on Velsheda after her performance in Porto Cervo last month, top competition is also expected in this class between Philip Rann’s Swan 80 Umiko and the longer, but slightly lower-rated Swan 82FD Kallima of Paul Berger.

For British America's Cup and Olympic sailor Andy Beadsworth, who is sharing tactical duties with American Mike Toppa on Velsheda, it is his first time racing here since Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez was extended to two weeks. “It is a great event. People want to be here and they have a lot of fun,” he said, adding that although they are in a class with other similarly rated boats, they really only have their eyes on Topaz.


Ronald de Waal's heavily campaigned J Velsheda. Photo: IMA / Studio Borlenghi

IRC 3 is the largest of the four classes and with numerous battles expected to play out within it. For this reason the fastest boats, the three former Maxi 72s and the VO65 round the world racer Ambersail 2 have been separated out into their own sub-division, IRC Three A. The ex-72s include Jim Swartz’s Vesper, Sir Peter Ogden’s Jethou (some 1.5m longer than her rivals) and North Star, the former Rán 2/Proteus, double Rolex Fastnet Race winner and World Champion, recently acquired by Britain’s Peter Dubens and modified to run powered winches.

Among the remainder of IRC 3 are several Wallys, including Wallyño, which won the IMA Mediterranean Maxi Inshore Challenge in the last race of this event in 2019. However IMA President Benoît de Froidmont will be up against Philippe Ligier’s Wally 80, Ryokan 2, winner here last year, sistership Rose (formerly Tango) with the hottest boat in this line-up being perennial winner, both here and in Porto Cervo, the Wally 77 Lyra of Canadian Terry Hui, racing with a powerful pro-laden crew.

Two boats are making their race debuts here. Pink Gin Verde, the Baltic Yachts works boat, is the first example of the Finnish boat builder’s Café Racer 68, designed by Javier Jaudenes and with strong ‘eco’ credentials, half of the fibres used in her construction are hemp and she is fitted with electric engines. Black Legend 6 is from Nantes-based Black Pepper Yachts, who put together the IMOCA campaign L’Occitane en Provence and have returned to French designer Sam Manuard for this speedy, spacious, lightweight 74 footer.

Once again there is a strong turn-out from Italian manufacturer Mylius Yachts, top of the list being CEO Luciano Gandini’s Mylius 80 Twin Soul B. There will be tight racing between the two Mylius 60s, Sud and Lady First 3.

"Les Voiles is a wonderful way to end the sailing season in the Med,” said Gandini. “Saint-Tropez is lovely, and in October you can still experience some nice weather. Twin Soul B did not race here last year - travel restrictions due to COVID-19 pandemic were still very strict at that time - so we are now very happy to be back. The 2019 edition was a good one for us Twin Soul B was first in her class.”

An older boat that still looks immaculate and remains highly competitive is the IMS-shaped Reichel/Pugh 80 Capricorno, sailed by a well seasoned Italian crew of former Admiral’s Cup competitor Alessandro del Bono. According to tactician Flavio Flavini they are hoping to do better this week than last year when they broke their mainsail just after the start of the first race. “We have been sailing the boat for the whole season and so far it has been good. Saint-Tropez is a nice place and a pleasure to be in summer. It is very attractive for the owners and the sailors. Sailing-wise it can be a bit of everything. - quite tricky inside the bay here. If we have the Mistral they have good courses and it can be beautiful. We are lucky to be here.”

Similarly strong and always raced well is Arco Van Nieuwland and Andries Verder’s well-travelled and heavily campaigned Maarten 72 Aragon, winner of the 2016 RORC Transatlantic Race, one piece in their crammed trophy cabinet. The Vismara-Mills 62 Leaps & Bounds 2 comes with a strong pedigree from when she was Roberto Lacorte’s multi-race winner SuperNikka.

The smaller cruiser-racers are to be found in IRC4. A strong manufacturer turn-out here is that of Construction Navale Bordeaux (CNB) who are represented by the 76s Dikenec and Zampa, the BX60s Criollos and Nina and the Bordeaux 60 Ila 2. IRC 4 could also be renamed the ‘Philippe Briand’ class as the French naval architect has not only designed all these boats but was lead designer on the French 1987 America’s Cup challenger, the 12m French Kiss that is also entered.

Longest boat in IRC 4 is the Judel-Vrolijk 82 Ikigai followed by the Southern Wind 78 Elise Whisper, while Nautor’s Swan is well represented by the Swan 65s Saida and Cassiopeia and the 651 Geronimo. An unknown quantity is the Shipman 63 Bambo.

Racing starts today and continues until Saturday when the prizegiving will take place.

Published in Superyachts
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The frustrations of a challenging year were blown away on Thursday as a solid sailing breeze kicked in to help celebrate the opening day of the 25th anniversary of Superyacht Cup Palma.

Near ideal conditions once again graced the Bay of Palma, delivering tight and exhilarating racing on a 23nm course to the nine-strong fleet of superyachts, their owners, captains and crews.

Umiko – at 24m the smallest superyacht in the fleet – was the first away on the Pantaenius Race Day course, followed by her Class A rivals Missy, Shamanna and Nilaya at two-minute intervals.

In Class B the first two starters chose alternate routes to the first mark, with the majestic 46m Aquarius – the largest and heaviest yacht at SYC – opting to head west on her first leg, while Baiurdo VI headed for the left side of the racecourse having made a perfectly timed start. The SYC first-timer Ravenger was next up, hotly pursued by the 46m Ganesha, and Scorpione of London and her lime green-shirted crew.

Missy was first around the first mark, the Pantaenius buoy, with Umiko and Shamanna jostling for position some 800m astern, and off towards the New Zealand buoy, the second of five marks. Eventually the 33m Missy would give ground on the water to her slightly larger rivals Shamanna and Nilaya, with the former narrowly taking line honours by less than 30 seconds on the opening day.

However, the sophisticated ORCsy handicap system flipped the leaderboard, giving Nilaya the opening race win by just 10 seconds – after more than two hours of racing – from Missy, Shamanna and Umiko.

“It was pretty close, though just before the finish we thought we were looking good,” said Volvo Race veteran Bouwe Bekking who is racing on Nilaya. “It had been quite difficult on the beats because we didn’t gain anything, but the crew were good and on the run the gybes were going nicely, and the owner did a good job of driving.

“It was one of those days it paid to be patient, to keep it close and wait for your opportunity. The wind was typical Palma, really nice and it was a beautiful sail. The racing is great and so is the organisation.”

Meanwhile, it was a similar story in Class B. The 46m Ganesha – an SYC regular – had built a commanding on-the-water lead by the finish but had to give way to Ravenger, and only pipped third-placed Baiurdo VI by 17 seconds once the handicap was applied.

The result was a pleasant surprise for Ravenger, said crew member Steve Branagh: “The owner is new to the whole yacht racing game, and this was his first race on the boat. We’d literally done two days of sailing before the regatta, so it was a big day of learning how to sail the boat.

“We weren’t confident and there was a wee bit of making it up as we went along. It was seat of the pants with a bit of suck-it-and-see. We had not too bad a start and a fairly good first beat which set us up for the rest of the race.

“We are now looking forward to the next couple of days of sailing without a doubt. The win was pretty unexpected, so we won’t let that go to our heads – we know we still have a lot of work to do.”

With the fleet heading back in – with many mooring at the iconic Real Club Náutico de Palma in the heart of Mallorca’s capital – SYC Event Director Kate Branagh said: “It all went really well and it was a great way to start our 25th-anniversary event. It had been looking a bit light but the breeze came in and produced some really good racing.”

Racing at Superyacht Cup Palma continues on Friday with New Zealand Race Day, named after SYC’s long-standing Destination Partner.

For results, please go here

Published in Superyachts
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With less than a month to go to the start of Superyacht Cup Palma’s landmark 25th anniversary, final detailed preparations are falling into place, according to organisers.

The celebration of Europe’s longest-running superyacht regatta from June 23-26 has been carefully planned to adapt to local pandemic restrictions in Mallorca.

This week Irish crews are sailing at Italy's prestigious Loro Piana Superyacht superyacht regatta as Afloat reports here.

As ever, the new-look event’s primary focus will be on the action out on the Bay of Palma where a fleet including many of the world’s most spectacular superyachts – some regulars and some new – will enjoy competitive, safe, and fun racing.

Ashore, the centre of the Superyacht Cup operation has moved to the world-famous Real Club Náutico de Palma in the heart of the city. The increased involvement of the RCNP – SYC’s long-standing race management collaborator – will allow flexibility with social events should pandemic restrictions be eased or lifted.

In any case, the prestigious club will provide an elegant and historic setting for SYC’s unique trademark brand of fun and informal gatherings.

“Superyacht Cup Palma has always put people first on and off the water, and never more so than at this anniversary event,” said SYC Event Director Kate Branagh.

“The success of Superyacht Cup Palma over the past 25 years is in large part down to our ability to react and respond to circumstances and the changing requirements of the superyacht community, including owners, captains, crews and our commercial partners, and we have had to pull out all the stops this year!

“We are confident 2021 will be a safe, enjoyable and above all stimulating return to competitive yacht racing.”

The latest addition to the entry list is the elegant 46m Scorpione – last seen at SYC in 2018 – who will join another returnee the 34m Nilaya, who came second in Class A in 2019 to overall SYC winner Win Win, with both flying the flag for Baltic Yachts, a Friend of the Superyacht Cup.

Also making a welcome return to Palma are the awesome 47m Perini Navi creation Aquarius – currently the largest entry – the sleek 34m sloop Baiurdo VI, the stylish and powerful 46m Ganesha, and the elegant, low profile 33m Missy.

Set to join them are a trio of first-timers comprising the striking 35m Frers-designed Shamanna and Swan 80 Umiko – both from the iconic Nautor stable – and the stunning 43m Ravenger (ex-Sea Eagle) from Royal Huisman.

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Royal Cork's Nin O'Leary together with Cian Guilfoyle of Dublin Bay and other Irish crew are lying third on Aragon in the Loro Piana Superyacht Regatta this week.

The Costa Smeralda put on its best show to deliver a second unforgettable race day for the fleet. A fresh wind from east-southeast of around 15 knots, sunshine and clear skies made for ideal sailing conditions, and perfectly highlighted the incredible scenery that this part of Sardinia is famous for.

As Afloat reported previously, the Irish crew are racing the latest 29-metre Aragon at the prestigious Italian regatta.

Dun Laoghaire Harbour's Cian Guilfoyle came fresh from the RC 44 Cup as Afloat reported here, to join the Aragon team for the first time. His knowledge of handling 400+ square metre spinnakers will see Guilfoyle assisting a bow army of six crew.

Yesterday, there was a spectacular and challenging course of around 30 miles was set by the Race Committee, which included an upwind leg to the islands of Mortorio and Soffi, before returning past Porto Cervo, through the Bisce pass to the Secca Tre Monti in the Golfo delle Saline, and from there leaving the Monaci islet to starboard and heading back to the finish line off Porto Cervo.

The Southern Wind fleet set off at 11.30 a.m. for their daily sail in the SW Rendezvous and Trophy, which in part followed the race route: once through the Bisce pass, the yachts from the South African yard headed for the bay of Liscia di Vacca and returned to port towards evening.

The Multihull division started on schedule at 12.30 p.m., with the Gunboat 68 Highland Fling pulling ahead from the off and gradually stretching her lead to claim first place in both real and corrected time

The Superyacht division's staggered start saw individual departures spaced 3 minutes apart, with the fastest boat being the last off the line.

Victory in corrected time once again went to Missy, the 33-metre yacht designed by Malcom McKeon and built by Vitters, which with two wins now sits firmly at the top of the provisional rankings. Claiming second place of the day, the Swan 115 Shammana also sits in second in the general classification followed by the SW94 Aragon in third. Y3K, which placed second yesterday, was forced to retire today due to a technical issue, causing it to slide into fourth in the provisional overall classification.

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Multi-billionaire Bill Gates has not commissioned an eco-friendly luxury superyacht that’s powered entirely by liquid hydrogen, the boat’s creators insist.

First unveiled at last autumn’s Monaco Yacht Show, the futuristic Aqua is a 370ft, five-deck mega-yacht with room for 14 guests and more than twice as many crew.

As it would be powered from two massive vacuum-sealed tanks of liquid hydrogen, its only emissions will be water.

Designer Sander Sinot says he hopes the Aqua concept will push the industry towards a more ecological future.

But his company rubbished reports that the vessel had been sold to the Microsoft tech magnate — although its eye-watering $645 million price tag would be pocket change to the 64-year-old, who is the world’s second richest man.

Published in Superyachts

HM Coastguard in the UK was among the agencies joining an international search operation last night (Friday 22 November) after a superyacht sank off Indonesia.

While initially believed to be a UK-registered vessel, it was quickly confirmed that the yacht, named Asia, was a Malaysian-registered sailing vessel with two British citizens among the four people aboard.

Following “extensive investigation work” by HM Coastguard, contact was made with the boat’s skipper at 5am this morning (Saturday 23 November).

He confirmed that the vessel sank after hitting an object in the water some 55 nautical miles off an Indonesian island, but all four crew had managed to get in board its RIB tender and were met by marine police at the nearest landfall.

“We are relieved to hear that the crew are now safely ashore,” said HM Coastguard Controller David Jones, who was in charge of co-ordinating efforts overnight.

“This incident demonstrated good international working between the UK Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre, JRCC Australia, JRCC Jakarta, USA Mission Control Centre and the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office.”

Published in Superyachts

Four people were reportedly injured when a superyacht owned by Irish media mogul Denis O’Brien listed while being relaunched from a dry dock in Italy.

According to Boat International, the 90-metre Nero was in the process of being moved out of the dock at Amico & Co in Genoa yesterday (Tuesday 10 September) when a support panel apparently gave way, causing the vessel to list dangerously in the dock on its port side.

It’s not yet known what damage has been caused to the popular charter yacht, part of the 1920s-inspired Corsair range, which was purchased by Denis O’Brien in 2014 for around €40 million and underwent a significant refit in Barcelona in 2016.

A statement from Döhle Yachts, which manages Nero, says the yacht listed at a 30-degree angle but "did not contact the dock wall and appears to have suffered only minimal damage".

The statement added that there was no risk to the environment and "no serious injuries" were sustained, with all crew safely disembarking after the incident, which is under investigation.

This story was updated on Thursday 12 September to include the statement from Döhle Yachts.

Published in Superyachts

The Port of Cork has advised of traffic delays on Cork’s city quays with the pending arrival of what’s being described as the world’s largest private yacht in the city this morning (Wednesday 12 June).

Le Grand Bleu arrived in Cork Harbour earlier this week as did fellow superyacht AIR, no stranger to the area.

Once owned by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, the 113-metre Le Grand Bleu has been in the possession of his friend and fellow oil business mogul Eugene Shvidler since 2006.

The Bermuda-flagged vessel is so sizeable that it even has room to carry two other boats on their own cranes: a 22-metre sailboat and a 21-metre powerboat.

Published in Port of Cork
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#Superyachts - has learned that superyacht Christopher is moored in Dun Laoghaire Marina this morning (Monday 13 August) after passage from Belfast.

The 46m Ron Holland-designed cruising ketch previously sailed into Dublin Bay in June 2014, when it was considered Dun Laoghaire’s largest ever visiting yacht.

Since then the marina has hosted various other super-sized vessels — including the 35.8m Arcadia, a yacht sturdy enough to transit the Northwest Passage — which prompted to ask whether a dedicated superyacht berth could be a realistic proposal for Dun Laoghaire.

Published in Superyachts

#Tulip - Dun Laoghaire Marina yesterday (Friday 13 July) welcomed the arrival of the K&M superyacht Tulip for a brief visit.

Designed by German Frers Jr and launched in 2012, the luxury 88-footer has the appearance of a classic sloop above the water line, but below has a flat hull and rising keel that makes for top racing performance when required.

Tulip usually plies the gold and blue coasts of the Mediterranean, can be chartered with a crew of two and room for up to six guests across its three cabins — if money is no object.

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