IMA Maxi Europeans

The second edition of the International Maxi Association’s Maxi European Championship is to take place again as part of Tre Golfi Sailing Week, out of Sorrento’s Marina Piccola over 12-18 May 2023.

Supported by Rolex, the event is run by the Circolo Remo e Vela Italia (CRVI) in conjunction with the IMA, the body officially tasked by World Sailing to administer and develop maxi yacht racing internationally. The event is supported by the Yacht Club Italiano and the Reale Yacht Club Canottieri Savoia.

The IMA Maxi European Championship will provide a mix of inshore and coastal courses, including an overnight race, which will launch the event: the 68th edition of the Regata dei Tre Golfi, the second oldest distance race in the Italian yachting calendar after the Rolex Giraglia. This will set sail at 1700 on Friday 12 May from Naples’ Castel dell’Ovo, where the CRVI’s clubhouse is located within Santa Lucia Marina.

Upwind off the Sorrento Peninsula during this year's IMA Maxi Europeans - photo © IMA / Studio Borlenghi
Upwind off the Sorrento Peninsula during this year’s IMA Maxi Europeans – photo © IMA / Studio Borlenghi

The Regata dei Tre Golfi’s 150 mile course takes the boats from Naples, past Procida, west-northwest to the island of Ponza. After rounding this turning mark, competitors return, past Ventotene and Ischia, towards Punta Campanella, the tip of the Sorrento Peninsula. They then round the Li Galli islands off the Amalfi coast, before returning around the south side of Capri back into the Bay of Naples, and this year, for the first time, finishing off Sorrento.

In 2022 Furio Benussi’s 100ft maxi ARCA SGR won line honours and in light conditions narrowly bettered the elapsed time of Giovanni Soldini’s Multi70 trimaran Maserati. However Peter Dubens’ former Maxi 72 North Star (ex Rán 2) prevailed under IRC corrected time after an intense match race with Sir Peter Ogden’s Judel/Vrolijk 77 Jethou.

Over Monday to Thursday, 15-18 May, will be the inshore/coastal races of the IMA Maxi Europeans for the Maxi Yacht Sorrento Trophy. Racing for this will be run by the IMA’s Principal Race Officer for the event, Stuart Childerley, who aside from being a multiple World Champion and ex-Olympic sailor, as a PRO has run racing at the Olympic Games, for the GC32 Racing Tour, the Royal Ocean Racing Club and numerous World and European Championships. This will comprise up to six windward-leeward or coastal races on the Gulf of Naples, with its magnificent backdrops of Capri, the Sorrento peninsula and, in the distance, Mount Vesuvius. The race programme may include the popular course around Capri, passing the famous Faraglioni rocks.

 The start of the 2022 Regata dei Tre Golfi © Studio Borlenghi

The event culminates in a prize-giving at which the IMA Maxi European Champion will receive the Rolex Trophy and a Rolex timepiece. Other trophies will include those for podium placers, class winners and for the top placed IMA member as well as the Maxi Yacht Sorrento Trophy for the inshore series winner. New for the regatta is a Corinthian Trophy for entries racing with more than 80% of amateur crew (World Sailing Cat 1).

Defending IMA Maxi European Champion is Canadian Terry Hui and his highly successful Wally 77 Lyra, who last May deprived both North Star and Jethou from the top prize in the final moments of the last race.

The IMA Maxi European Championship is open to all maxi yachts with an IRC Endorsed certificate. Its winner does not have to have a European owner nor be a European flagged yacht. Using a low-points scoring system, results for the Regata dei Tre Golfi will be weighted with a 0.75 co-efficient. One of the subsequent inshore/coastal races may be discarded if more than four are completed.

The entry list to date shows a promising line-up of former Maxi 72s, with both Peter Dubens’ North Star and Jethou returning, plus Vesper, the former Maxi 72 champion Dario Ferrari’s Cannonball and back in Europe for the first time since the pandemic, George Sakellaris’ Proteus.

Maxi 72 leaders head for Capri's famous Faraglioni rocks - photo © Studio Borlenghi
Maxi 72 leaders head for Capri’s famous Faraglioni rocks – photo © Studio Borlenghi

“We love competing against the best of the best,” explains Jim Swartz, owner of the 2022 Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup class winner Vesper. “Every day is a new day and any of us can and will win. It’s about sailing well – the results fall where they fall.”

Early entries include Pier Luigi Loro Piana’s Club Swan 80 My Song, Riccardo De Michele’s highly successful Vallicelli 78 H20 plus four yachts from Mylius Yachts including Guido Paolo Gamucci’s canting keel 60 Cippa Lippa X plus the fixed keel 60s Franz Baruffaldi Preis’ Manticore and from France Jean-Pierre Dreau’s Lady First 3 and the new Mylius 66 belonging to German Alois Neukirchen.

“The regatta falls at the perfect time for us: just after My Song will have left the yard and after some training time,” commented My Song team manager Giorgio Benussi. “The Regata dei Tre Golfi will be our first race of the year against some of our fiercest competitors and will represent an excellent testing ground from which to make further improvements.

“The owner and his family love Sorrento and the Bay of Naples – most of their family cruises are in this area. Previous My Songs have raced in the Tre Golfi and the name is already in the event’s ‘roll of honour’ having won the 2006 edition. It’s a race course we love and the welcome from our friends at the CRVI makes us feel at home. The atmosphere at the start is unmissable.”

The IMA Maxi European Championship forms part of the wider Tre Golfi Sailing Week.

The event also scores in both of the IMA’s annual maxi championships: Regata dei Tre Golfi will be the third event of six in the IMA’s 2022-3 Mediterranean Maxi Offshore Challenge (MMOC) which began with this October’s Rolex Middle Sea Race. The Maxi Europeans’ inshore/coastal races will be the second event in the 2023 Mediterranean Maxi Inshore Challenge (MMIC), which kicks off with the Real Club Nautico de Palma’s PalmaVela over 3-7 May and concludes at the end of September with Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez.

by James Boyd / International Maxi Association

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