Mariquita, Chinook and Namib win overall Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge 2014 trophies at Cannes

September 2014

The end of the 36th Régates Royales di Cannes also marked the conclusion on September 27th of the Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge 2014, the international circuit for classic and vintage sailing crafts sponsored for the last 10 years by  Officine Panerai. The event attracted 70 beautiful yachts from 10 nations and was the sixth and final round of the PCYC Mediterranean Circuit which spanned regattas at Antibes, Argentario, Naples, Mahon, Imperia and Cannes.

The Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge 2014 trophy was presented to Mariquita (Big Boats category), Chinook (Vintage) and Namib (Classic). These three prestige wooden yachts have added their names to the Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge Roll of Honour at the end of a long and highly competitive season.

The Big Boat Mariquita is a 31-metre gaff cutter built by Fife of Scotland in 1911 and the only International 19-metre Class yacht still afloat of the six originally built. Having already won numerous regattas on the Panerai circuit, this year she competed in every round except Naples. Mariquita topped the rankings ahead of other famous Big Boats including Moonbeam IV, Moonbeam of Fife, Hallowe’en, Altair and Elena of London. Her four devoted British co-owners rotate a crew of dozens of equally dedicated sailors each year, allowing them to learn to sail in the way of a century ago or more. 

On her second consecutive year in the Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge, the gaff cutter Chinook has taken the season trophy for the Vintage class. Launched by Herreshoff in America in 1916, the 19.8-metre has now achieved her ambition of adding her name to the Roll of Honour. She is one of 14 NY40s (New York 40) commissioned between 1916 and 1926 by a group of New York Yacht Club members. There are now no more than four such yachts still afloat worldwide. The last time a gaff-rigged yacht won the prestigious Vintage season trophy was eight years ago (Bona Fide, 1899). Chinook’s English owner, Graham Walker, is no newcomer to this kind of victory, however, having won the Vintage Panerai Trophy three times with his previous yacht, the 1916 Bermudan cutter, Rowdy. This triumph also comes courtesy of a crew that includes helmsman Emanuel Fontaine, Irish skipper Jonathan Greenwood, and tactician and trimmer Franco Zamorani, a former member of the 1983 Azzurra and 1987 Italia America’s Cup teams. Chinook took part in every stage of the 2014 circuit, competing in a total of 21 races.

The prestigious overall title in the Classic category went to Italian yacht Namib owned by Pietro Bianchi, from Parma, on his debut season on the circuit. This 12-metre, designed and built in 1966 by the legendary Sangermani yard of Liguria, covered 1,500 miles of sea to reach the various venues in the course of the season. Namib underwent restorations in 2012 and 2014 which contributed to this overall victory as did the presence aboard of sailing professionals such as helmsman Davide Besana, bowman Luca Chiarello and, most importantly, tactician Mauro Pelaschier. The latter, an undisputed sailing legend since the days of Azzurra’s America’s Cup challenge, has also set a personal record that will prove difficult to match. This is, in fact, the fifth time Mauro Pelaschier has won a Panerai season trophy. He took the others aboard Amorita (1937) Peter (1939) and twice aboard Leonore (1925).

Aside from the season trophies, Cannes also brought the presentation of the luxury Officine Panerai sports watches to the winners of the Big Boats, Vintage, Classic and Spirit of Tradition categories of the Régates Royales. Mariquita triumphed in the Big Boats, while Chinook dominated the Vintage and Sagittarius (1971) the Classic with Freya (2003) taking victory in the Spirit of Tradition.

Other prizes were also awarded to winners of all categories of the Cannes regatta: Mariquita (Big Boats), Chinook (Vintage Gaff), Dorade (Vintage Marconi over 15 metres), Sirius (Vintage Marconi under 15 metres), Sagittarius (Classic), Freya (Spirit of Tradition), Vanity V (International 12-metre Class), Carron 2 (International 8-metre Class) and Speed Bird (Tofinou). The International 12-metres Classes competed in a total of 10 races altogether.   

The classic and vintage sailing yachts that gathered at Cannes were also joined by 45 Dragons, a racing one design launched in Norway in 1929. After seven races, overall victory went to the crew of English boat, Blue Haze, skippered by Ivan Bradbury.

Some of the Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge participants will also be gathering once again at Lanzarote in the Canary Islands on January 7th for the second edition of the Panerai Transat Classique, a 2,800-mile race across the Atlantic that finishes at Martinique in the Caribbean. These include the 1948 17-metre Argyll, the 1930 cutter The Blue Peter and the majestic 50-metre Bermudan three-masted schooner  Xarifa, launched in England for the Singer family in 1927. Built from riveted steel plates, the latter is fresh from a restoration at Metalships & Dock’s in Spain that will allow her tackle long offshore voyages in complete safety once again.  

  • Mariquita, Chinook and Namib win overall Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge 2014 trophies at Cannes

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