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15 April 2009, 04:13 pm
Sailing History To Come Alive In Portofino This May
Panorama of Portofino taken from Castello Brown
Panorama of Portofino taken from Castello Brown

Portofino Rolex Trophy 2009
Portofino, Italy

The Portofino Rolex Trophy is a new regatta that will be celebrating its inaugural edition this year in one of Italy's most iconic port villages.
From May 7-10, 2009, the picturesque port of Portofino, on the Ligurian coast, will be the venue of choice for a series of races dedicated to the "barca d'epoca," vessels that have helped make sailing history, namely the classic yachts.

Open to the 23-Metre, 12M and 8M classes, the Portofino Rolex Trophy is an invitation-only regatta that promises spectacular racing along with a host of onshore activities.

"Together with Rolex we thought that planning an event for Metre classes in Portofino would make sense," said Dr. Carlo CROCE, president of the Yacht Club Italiano and president of the Italian Sailing Federation. "Our Club has been hosting Metre class events for one hundred years, normally in Genoa, but in the 1950s a summer clubhouse was bought in Portofino and many events on our calendar are now held in this most beautiful village on the coast."

"This year will be the "zero" edition, by invitation, since we want to see how we can deal with moorings, hotels etc," CROCE explained. "For the next edition we will look ahead at the calendars for the Metre classes to find a good weekend. In the meantime, I hope our guests have a good time and enjoy sailing in our waters."

Among the confirmed participants is Bernard DUC, on his 1930 Tore Holm-designed 8-Metre Elsinore. "I was delighted to receive the invitation from the Yacht Club Italiano, and Portofino will be a fantastic location for such an event," said DUC, an international lawyer based in Hong Kong, who is well familiar with the beauty of this idyllic Italian port village. "We look forward to racing against our Italian competitors in their beautiful boats -- they are fun to compete against."

Luigi DONNA his 12-Metre Varuna is also found among the confirmed entries for the 2009 Portofino Rolex Trophy. DONNA is very familiar with Portofino and thinks of it as "a fantastic place and a great choice as a venue for such a regatta." An owner enamoured of classic yachts, DONNA is familiar with all of the boats entered; when asked why, of all the boats he could have chosen to purchase he chose a classic boat, he said it was because he has loved the classics, "since always. I felt honoured to be invited to this regatta," he added, "especially because we will be celebrating the 100th anniversary of Varuna."

To think that this one wooden yacht has survived over 100 years of use, exposure to wind, weather and war is quite incredible, but, as fate will have it, Varuna is not the only boat that will be celebrating over a century of existence in Portofino in May. Orion, the famous 129' gaff schooner built by Camper & Nicholson, will also be on hand as the guest of honour during the Portofino Rolex Trophy.

Two centennials make for an incredible opportunity to travel through sailing's history, and with the addition of the rest of the classic fleet, the regatta promises to be a truly impressive encounter with bygone eras. The other 11 currently confirmed entries include Astra (23-Metre/J-Class), 12-Metres Cintra, Emilia and La Spina, and 8-Metres Bona, Margaret, Miranda III, Vega, Fulmar and Helen.

Racing will take place in the waters of the Marconi Gulf and nine races have been scheduled, with no more than three races per day. Racing is set to begin daily at 11:00 unless otherwise announced, as of 8 May 2009. The prizegiving ceremony will take place in Portofino on Sunday 10 May 2009, directly following the last race. Along with regatta prizes and trophies, a Rolex Yacht-Master in Rolesium will be awarded to the winners of both the 8 and 12-Metre classes.

Looking beyond the competition on the water, the Portofino Rolex Trophy will also host an onshore showcase of wooden one-design classes in the main square of Portofino. This historic exhibition will highlight yachts dating from 1936 and will feature the following classes: Star, Class A, Finn, Snipe, Flying Dutchman, Contender, Fireball, Flying Junior, Vaurien, 7M, and 5.5M.

Of additional interest is a regatta for the Dragon Class to celebrate the classes' 80th Anniversary, which will take place during the Portofino Rolex Trophy. The Dragon fleet will be based in the port of Santa Margherita Ligure and will use the same regatta course, rules, and conditions as the Portofino Rolex Trophy fleet.

Social events onshore promise to keep all entertained beyond the racing with an Official Welcome on Thursday, May 7, daily after-race socials, and the exclusive Rolex Gala Dinner at "La Cervara" on Saturday night.

Races are organized by the Yacht Club Italiano, in collaboration with Circolo Velico of Santa Margherita Ligure and under the patronage of the Cities of Portofino and Santa Margherita Ligure.

The Portofino Rolex Trophy is part of the Rolex Yachting Portfolio that includes over 20 world-class sailing events that take place around the world. Rolex is also the title sponsor of mythic races such as the Rolex Sydney Hobart, the Rolex Middle Sea Race and the legendary Rolex Fastnet Race.
Karen Cooper
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