September 2014

The international regatta circuit sponsored by Officine Panerai calls to Italy for the nation’s leading classic sailing event

SEPTEMBER 2014 – One of the world’s most imposing historic boat fleets is making ready to sail into Imperia in Northern Liguria for the 18th edition of Le Vele d’Epoca di Imperia which plays out between September 10th and 14th. Imperia is also the fifth Mediterranean stage of the Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge, the international racing circuit for vintage and classic craft sponsored by the Florentine haute horlogerie maison for the 10th consecutive year in 2014.

Organised by the Assonautica Provinciale di Imperia under the patronage of the CIM (International Mediterranean Committee) with technical support provided by the Yacht Club Sanremo, Le Vele d’Epoca di Imperia is the largest regatta of its kind in Italy. In fact, more than 70 yachts ranging in size between seven and 85 metres and built between the late 19th century and the present day will moor in Porto Maurizio and along the floating jetties overlooking the Banchina Medaglie d’Oro for its duration. The craft will be split into “Vintage”, “Classic” and “Spirit of Tradition” categories based on their year of launch too.

The opening ceremony takes place on Wednesday, September 10th, with one race per day scheduled between Thursday morning and Sunday. Side events include photographic exhibitions, concerts and culinary challenges with “La Grande Parata” on Sunday morning being followed by the last of the four planned races and the prize-giving ceremony. Imperia is held only every second year and so always features new boats, attracted by not merely by a desire to compete but also its wonderfully friendly atmosphere and the chance to be admired by the 200,000 visitors that flock to the Ligurian town in the course of the five-day event.

The largest yacht in port will be Signora del Vento, an 85-metre schooner built in Northern Europe in 1962 and used as a naval training vessel before taking up her current career on the charter market. The smallest will be Wianno, a gaff sloop of just 7.6 metres and a replica of the 1914 American design aboard which President John F. Kennedy learned to sail.

Making her first appearance at Imperia will be the 38-metre two-masted topsail schooner, Jacob Meindert, originally built in Holland in 1953 as a steel ice-breaking tug but converted to a tall-ship in 1989. She selected Italy as her new base this year.

Also coming to Imperia for the first time is Star 1907, a gaff cutter built on the Isle of Wight. Over a century ago, in fact, she played host to the future King Edward VIII when he was attending the Royal Naval College on the island. Today she belongs to an Italian owner who had her meticulously restored and also transferred by road to Imperia from her current home on Lake Maggiore.

Another high profile attendee is Xarifa, a majestic 50-metre three-masted schooner built in England in 1927 for sewing machine magnate Franklin Morse Singer. Xarifa, whose name means “magnificent creature” in Egyptian, is also already entered for the Panerai Transat Classique 2015, which starts from the Canary Islands next January and finishes in Martinique in the Caribbean.

The other Big Boats at Imperia include three magnificent schooners: the 32-metre Altair (1931), the 55-metre Elena and the 50-metre Eleonora. They will be joined by the 1915 gaff schooner Mariette which has been competing - and winning - on the classic sailing circuits for over a decade now.

Imperia is always a big draw too for the Italian Navy which this year brings a mini-fleet of no less than eight vessels: Artica II (1956), Capricia (1963), Chaplin (1974), Corsaro II (1961) and Stella Polare (1965), flanked by Gemini, Orsa Maggiore and Sagittario.

Officine Panerai too takes part with its brand ambassador, the 1936 Bermudan ketch Eilean. The Florentine luxury sports watch maker remains the world’s leading organiser of classic yachting events with 11 different events scheduled for 2014 across the globe. Panerai has also further underscored its close links to classic sailing with the creation of the Luminor 1950 Regatta 3 Days Chrono Flyback Titanio, a chronograph designed to bring a revolutionary simplicity to calculating race start times.

The sixth and final round of the Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge Mediterranean Circuit is Les Régates Royales de Cannes in France between September 23rd and 27th at which the much-sought after trophies for the 2014 season will be presented. 


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