Befitting the shared spirit that underpins the longstanding partnership between the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda (YCCS), Rolex and Nautorís Swan, the Rolex Swan Cup is a genuine showcase for yachtingís heritage and tradition and, in parallel, an exhibition of progress and evolution. The 2016 event welcomes a record 125 yachts spanning fifty years of design, and unites timeless quality with the enthusiasm and passion of the competing owners and crews.
Rolex Swan Cup - Day 2 - 14th September
Finely balanced After two days of close-fought racing at the 2016 Rolex Swan Cup, the situation in all six competing classes is delicately poised. While yesterdayís opening races took place under a consistent 10 knot breeze, todayís conditions were stronger, with wind speeds hitting 15-20 knots.
Making waves in the 16-strong Maxi class, reserved for the eventís largest yachts, are the three Swan 115s. Of these new launches, Lord Irvine Laidlawís Highland Fling 15 has exerted her supremacy as the fastest boat on the water during both coastal races. However, on ORC handicap, Swan 80 Selene currently holds the advantage after registering a first and second place finish. Don Macphersonís Swan 90S Freya lies a point behind.
One of the most eagerly-anticipated competitions is the Swan 45 World Championships. Christian Plumpís Elena Nova, runner-up in 2014, is enjoying an outstanding week winning four of the six races. She holds a three-point lead over Esthec with four-time event champion Earlybird a further six points adrift. "For us consistency is now the best thing," explains Esthecís Bouwe Bekking. "There is a long way to go and we have the coastal race tomorrow which is going to be important. Competition in the class is strong and only getting better."
Natalia continues to make a staunch defense of her ClubSwan 42 title. Four wins from six races confirm her pedigree. Another defending champion performing to expectations is the Japanese Swan 56 Yasha, for whom two second places finishes are sufficient to lead the Mini Maxi class ahead of Gerard Logelís Arobas. In Grand Prix, James Blakemoreís Swan 53 Music leads the standings following two wins from as many races while the most consistent performer among the 36-strong Sparkman & Stephens class designs is Swan 48 Sleeper.
Pushing the envelope
In celebrating the 50th anniversary of its first launch, innovation has remained at the forefront of Nautorís Swanís thoughts and is represented in physical form at the 2016 Rolex Swan Cup by the appearance of three iterations from each of two new, contrasting designs - the ClubSwan 50 and the Swan 115.
The ClubSwan 50, conceived as a high performance racing boat, is a project the marque initially launched as a contest between some of the worldís most prominent yacht designers. Among many top class proposals, the chosen concept came from the studio of Argentinian Juan Kouyoumdjian. "The 50th project was created for our anniversary and it was a case of whether we looked to the past 50 years or the next 50 years. We decided to look to the next 50 years," reveals Enrico Chieffi, Nautorís Swan Vice President.
Jochen SchŁmann, the experienced German sailor and three-time Olympian gold medalist, is the ClubSwan 50 Class President and explains the design has a clear purpose. "Itís a vision to build a relatively big boat as a pure one design to ensure strict level racing. It requires high quality in every component - keel, fin, mast, equipment, all so people can enjoy it at an elite level without any handicap system. Itís modern, high tech but completely in the Swan DNA."
Kouyoumdjian, who joins a select and illustrious list of names to have crafted Swan designs, is in agreement with SchŁmann that his concept is respectful to the marqueís lineage while being truly distinctive. "If you look back at Nautorís beginnings you could argue that this is not a departure. The DNA of a ClubSwan 50 is to be at the front line of yacht design and combine easy sailing on one side and craftsmanship and performance on the other."
World-renowned sailor Ken Read is calling tactics on Leonardo Ferragamoís Cuordileone, one of the newly-launched ClubSwan 50s competing at the event. His impressions are positive. "Itís quick, itís nimble, it accelerates and itís balanced. I have sailed a lot of boats and there are no signs whatsoever that this boat doesnít have a chance of being a real hotshot on the race course and in fulfilling its purpose."
Meanwhile, the 115 is among the largest Swan yachts ever built, a bold step into the increasingly dynamic superyacht market. Here the designs, from longstanding Swan designer GermŠnFrers Snr, are not bound by the ClubSwan 50ís one-design concept, with the three initial launches all defined by their own identity. "There are different interpretations of the same yacht in terms of the 115. One is cruising-oriented, all about comfort, space and internal light while the latest is a racing machine and everything designed to be as light as possible to enhance performance," continues Chieffi, adding that the delicate compromise between comfort and performance is always met, reiterating, "even the most cruising-oriented Swan is a very high performance yacht."
"The new Swan 115 represents a step forward in the cruising/racer design," reveals Frers. "The initial conceptual work was undertaken for clients who were looking to increase the return in terms of enjoyment and the joy of owning a large sailing yacht. Besides the customary family cruising in comfort, they were looking for extra adrenaline racing and sailing at higher maximum speeds downwind."
According to Kouyoumdjian, judging the success of a new design is often purely a sensual, human one. "As a designer one of the most important things for me is that a sail boat is a means of achieving feelings that you rarely can in other means. Itís my duty to ensure that the crew and the person at the helm have access to those sensations."
Setting new standards of excellence in any industry requires a harmonious balance between precision and forensic attention to the smallest of details together with a desire to push the boundaries of knowledge in a quest to produce the perfect product. Values inherent to likeminded companies Rolex and Nautorís Swan, partners since 1984.
Racing at the 2016 Rolex Swan Cup continues tomorrow, Thursday 15 September, with the first warning signal scheduled at 11:30 CEST. The Long Island Race through the Maddalena Archipelago is planned for all classes.
For the latest results and standings from the 2016 Rolex Swan Cup, please visit the YCCS website.
ROLEX AND YACHTING
Rolex has always sought to associate with activities that, like itself, were motivated by passion, excellence, precision and team spirit. Naturally, Rolex gravitated toward the elite world of sailing, forming an alliance that dates back to the late 1950s. Today, Rolex is Title Sponsor of some 15 major international events.
From leading offshore races, such as the Rolex Sydney Hobart and the biennial Rolex Fastnet Race, through to the highest-level one-design competition at the Rolex Farr 40 World Championship, spectacular gatherings at the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup and the Rolex Swan Cup, as well as the brandís support of the International Sailing Federation and its close relationships with the most prestigious yacht clubs around the world, including the New York Yacht Club (US) and the Royal Yacht Squadron (Cowes, UK), Rolex is driven by a passion for excellence and a great appreciation for yachting that furthers the strong ties that bind these two worlds in their shared pursuit of perfection.
Leading brand of the Swiss watch industry, Rolex, headquartered in Geneva, enjoys an unrivalled reputation for quality and expertise the world over. Its Oyster watches, all certified as chronometers for their precision, are symbols of excellence, performance and prestige. Pioneer in the development of the wristwatch as early as 1905, the brand is at the origin of numerous major watchmaking innovations, such as the Oyster, the first waterproof wristwatch, launched in 1926, and the Perpetual rotor self-winding mechanism, introduced in 1931. Rolex has registered over 400 patents in the course of its history. A truly integrated and independent manufacturing company, Rolex designs, develops and produces in-house all the essential components of its watches, from the casting of the gold alloys to the machining, crafting, assembly and finishing of the movement, case, dial and bracelet. Rolex is also actively involved in supporting the arts, sports, exploration, the spirit of enterprise, and the environment through a broad palette of sponsoring activities, as well as philanthropic programmes.