Last Update: October 12th, 2018
There remains one area of competitive sport in which beauty still prevails over performance, elegance trumps speed and passion counts more than investment. This is the world of classic sailing, in which the Florentine luxury sports watch-maker Officine Panerai is the undisputed protagonist through its sponsorship of the Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge, the leading international circuit of its kind.
The union between Panerai and the sea dates back to the beginning of last century, when the Italian Military Navy turned to the Florentine company to supply watches and precision instruments for its specialized underwater corps in particular. These historical ties are alive and well today, and are strengthened year after year with the sponsorship of the Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge, which is in its eleventh edition in 2015.
Since its debut in 2005, the Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge has expanded to include ten of the world’s most prestigious classic yacht regattas, divided into two circuits – Mediterranean and North American – which are joined by two independent regattas: the Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta and the Panerai British Classic Week.
The 2010 Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge saw the debut of Eilean, the Bermuda ketch built in 1936 in the Fife shipyards in Fairlie. The yacht was restored and returned to the sea by Officine Panerai, in the name of passion and the qualities of beauty, classic design, craftsmanship and excellence, which distinguish the uniqueness of a classic yacht as they do a luxury watch. panerai.com/en
Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta
The Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta is a unique event in the international classic yachting calendar for its participants, atmosphere, scenery and racing conditions.
In April of every year, four days of racing mark the end of the classic sailing season in the Caribbean, bringing together dozens of classic and vintage ketches, sloops, schooners and yawls, to create an extraordinary spectacle together with J Class, Tall Ships and Spirit of Tradition. The latter category first began in Antigua in 1996, a testament to the high status of this event within the panorama of international classic yachting.
Yacht Club: Antigua Yacht Club (Antigua)
Les Voiles d’Antibes
Since its debut year in 1996, Les Voiles d’Antibes has been the first major European event of the classic yachting season for many sailing enthusiasts, and the opening event of the Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge for many years. Every year, in early June, Port Vauban – Europe’s largest marina – and the coastal waters between the bay of Antibes and Juan-les-Pins, host a fleet of legendary boats, which challenge each other over the five days of regatta and match-races that spark competition between the crews.
Famous for the beauty of its scenery and wealth of culture, it offers owners and crews an atmosphere of great cheer during the Antibes regattas, as one of the liveliest regatta resorts on the circuit. Concerts, exhibitions, parades and other surprises animate life on land, yet leaving the event’s leading role to the “ladies of the sea”.
Yacht Club: Les Voiles d’Antibes (Antibes, France)
Argentario Sailing Week
In the second half of June, when winds blow more strongly, ideal conditions are created for racing around the ancient port of Santo Stefano, on the western side of Mount Argentario. That is precisely when the Argentario Sailing Week is held, the regatta reserved for classic and vintage yachts, which each year hosts watercraft from all over the Mediterranean to partake in thrilling challenges celebrating beauty and love of the sea.
Began in 1992 under the name Vele d’Argento and rechristened Argentario Sailing Week in 1999, the Porto Santo Stefano fixture is now one of the great classics of the vintage sailing season. Owners, crews and fans gather in Porto Vecchio, known also as “La Pilarella”, from the name of one of the districts into which the charming seaside village that hosts the event is traditionally divided.
Yacht Club: Yacht Club Santo Stefano (Porto Santo Stefano, Italy)
Panerai British Classic Week
Every year, in late July, the old port of Cowes on the isle of Wight, and the legendary waters of the Solent – the strait separating the island from England, famous for its unique combination of winds and tides – play host to the most important event in the United Kingdom for classic yachts, part of the Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge since 2010.
Dozens of yachts, mainly from Northern European countries, gather in Cowes to take part in the five races that may bring them final victory, and in the spectacular Panerai Classic Round the Island Race, organized on the first Sunday along the course that in 1851 gave rise to the America’s Cup.
Yacht Club: British Classic Yacht Club (Cowes, isle of Wight, United Kingdom)
Marblehead Corinthian Classic Yacht Regatta
The city of Marblehead (Massachusetts, USA), with its rich legacy associated with yachting and sailing – claimed by many to be the birthplace of the American Navy – is the ideal place to open the North American Circuit of the Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge, began in 2010.
Tradition, the exceptional port and the vicinity of a city such as Boston, have all made Marblehead one of New England’s sailing capitals. The first classic yacht regattas took place in the early ‘80s and today the Corinthian Classic Yacht Regatta has reached its 34th year.
Yacht Club: Corinthian Yacht Club (Marblehead, MA – USA)
Nantucket Opera House Cup
Every year in the third weekend of August, the island of Nantucket (Massachusetts, USA), a prestigious tourist resort south of the celebrated peninsula of Cape Cod, hosts the Opera House Cup, the second leg of the North American Circuit of the Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge.
The Opera House Cup takes its name from the eponymous venue whose owner, in 1973, had the idea of organizing a regatta reserved for wooden sail boats, and it is the oldest regatta of this kind to take place along the East Coast of the United States. Every year, a large fleet of vintage boats gathers, giving life to a unique and thrilling spectacle against the backdrop of marvelous scenery offered by the location.
Yacht Club: Nantucket Community Sailing (Nantucket, RI – USA)
Mahon Copa del Rey de Barcos de Epoca
Launched in 2003 by the Club Marítimo de Mahón (CMM) and the Real Club Náutico de Barcelona (RCNB), the Copa del Rey de Barcos de Época – Vela Clásica Menorca has, over its seven years, attracted hundreds of “Ladies of the Sea” with their owners and crews to the enchanting Balearic island, whose natural harbor has been one of the most strategic in the whole of the western Mediterranean since antiquity.
The variety of winds, the crystal clear waters and the breathtaking scenery together with the classic and vintage boats that flock in great numbers to the island to take part in only Spanish leg of the Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge, a part of the Mediterranean Circuit, make for an unforgettable spectacle.
Yacht Club: Club Marítimo de Mahón (Mahon, Minorca, Spain)
Newport Museum of Yachting Classic Yacht Regatta
Founded in 1980 by a group of enthusiasts who wanted to promote the culture of classic yachting, the Museum of Yachting Classic Yacht Regatta brings dozens of boats built by some of the greatest American masters (Herreshoff, Sparkman & Stephens) from all over the region each year to vie for the final stage of the North American Circuit of the Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge, which takes place in the waters of Narragansett Bay.
Newport (Rhode Island, USA) famous for its Mansions and particularly its long history of sailing – for many years host city to the America’s Cup – is one of the leading locations in New England and certainly one of the nation’s cultural centres for classic yachting.
Yacht Club: Museum of Yachting (Newport, RI – USA)
Cannes Régates Royales
Included in the Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge calendar since 2005 as the closing leg of the season, the Régates Royales in Cannes represent one of the most prestigious fixtures in the entire international regatta season reserved for classic and vintage yachts. The large number and variety of boats present as well as its long history make this event an extraordinary festival devoted to the sea and its leading ladies.
The name Régates Royales, dating back to 1929, recalls the royalty who took part in the regattas with their boats right from the very first years of the event. Cannes, however, had already acted as host to the first regatta – for tall ships – organized by the then Société de Régates de Cannes in 1863.
Yacht Club: Yacht Club de Cannes (Cannes, France)
Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge
Photos / Videos: Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge & Panerai / Guido Cantini
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