Wed, May 31, 2017

80 yachts gear for Panerai challenge

A fleet of vintage and classic sailing yachts will gather at the French Riviera town of Antibes from tomorrow for four days for the first stage of the 13th Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge Mediterranean Circuit, sponsored by the eponymous Florentine luxury sports watchmaker. 

Once again this year, Les Voiles d’Antibes, which has been running since 1996, will welcome over 80 sailing crafts launched by the world’s leading shipyards over the course of the last 100 years. 

Their presence in the waters off the old town centre hails the start of a challenge that will culminate in the awarding of the overall 2017 trophies for the various categories at Cannes in late September.

Ranging in size from 7 to over 60 m, the yachts will be representing a slew of nations from Italy to France, Britain, Germany, Spain, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and the US. 

Over 500 crew – all avid yachting history devotees - are also expected in addition to thousands of visitors who will be able to admire the craft berthed at the dockside through the event.

The fleet will be split into six main classes: Big Boats (sailing giantesses of over 30 m in length), Classic Marconi (launched between 1950 and 1975), Vintage Gaff (launched pre-1950), Vintage Marconi, Spirit of Tradition and Tofinou (the latter being a 9.5-m day sailer). 

Starting tomorrow, a total of four races will be held – one each day. The prize-giving ceremony takes place after the last race on Sunday, June 4.

The majority of the boats entered on the Panerai circuit have already competed in many of the previous editions, taking either class victories and adding their names to the roll call of honour of the trophy itself. The latter include Moonbeam IV, winner of the overall Big Boat trophy in the 2011, 2012, 2015 and 2016 seasons, making her the most successful yacht on the circuit. Stretching 35 m, Moonbeam IV was built in 1914 by the Fife yard in Scotland and was once owned by Prince Rainier of Monaco.

Competing in the same category is the 54-m schooner Shenandoah of Sark, launched in the US in 1902 to a design inspired by Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany’s yacht.

Chinook, a gaff cutter splashed in 1916 by the legendary American yard Herreshoff, will be attempting to take the overall season trophy in the Vintage Yachts class for the third time after her wins in 2014 and 2016. 

Likewise Il Moro di Venezia I after her overall class victories in 2013 and 2015. The 1976 20-m was the very first Italian IOR Maxi Yacht and belonged to Italian chemical magnate Raul Gardini. Once again this season, Il Moro will be doing battle with the likes of Ganbare, a 10-m One Tonner that won the 2016 Panerai Classic Yachts trophy and also marked Californian Doug Peterson out as one of the world’s leading designers after her launch in 1976. 

The very large Vintage Marconi class will span craft such as the historic 1930 International 12-m Class Emilia, the multi-Panerai Trophy winner Rowdy (1916), Serenade (1938) and, of course, the 22-m ketch Eilean acquired and restored by Officine Panerai in 2006 as an ambassador both for the brand and the classic yachting culture.

There will also be three 19th century vessels competing at Antibes, each one living testimony to a bygone era of yachting. Launched in 1897, the pleasure yacht Lulu has been awarded national historic treasure status in France, while Tigris (1899) returns to competing in the same town where she was restored a decade ago. Lastly, the 18-m Marigold, built by Camper & Nicholson in 1892, still retains her original lines, interiors and peerless Victorian charm. 

Founded in Florence in 1860, for many decades Officine Panerai supplied the Italian Navy in general with precision instruments. The designs developed by Panerai in that time, including the Luminor and Radiomir, were launched on the market only after the brand was acquired by the Richemont Group in 1997. Today, Panerai develops and crafts its movements and watches at its manufacture in Neuchâtel, Switzerland.

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