Everything is set on the Italian island of Capri for the start of the 2014 Rolex Capri Sailing Week.
The 10th edition of Mediterranean classic gets underway on Monday 19 May with the Volcano Race, a testing offshore race between Capri and the Aeolian Islands reserved for the 12 Maxi yachts competing this year. The nine TP52s that complete the international fleet make their debut on Tuesday. The favourable weather forecast looks set to guarantee an enthralling week of racing.
Since its first edition, Rolex Capri Sailing Week has always been a meeting point for the top international crews, and the 2014 edition will be no exception. The flags of Austria, Brazil, United Kingdom, France, Hungary, Italy, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and the USA fly from the competing yachts berthed at Capri's Marina Grande, confirming the global attraction of this event organised by the International Maxi Association and the Yacht Club Capri.
The 21 yachts from 11 countries will be divided into three different classes: Mini Maxi (18.29m to 24.08m), Maxi (24.09m-30.5m) and TP52 (15.85m).
On Sunday the Maxi crews busied themselves with final shoreside preparations, before leaving the dock for some practice on the waters surrounding Capri. The real action starts on Monday. "We have a four day window of moderate East-Southeast winds, which is promising for the Volcano course
," explains Principal Race Officer Peter Reggio. "That's around 310 nautical miles of racing.
" The racecourse takes the fleet south of Capri towards Sicily, and includes famous natural marks such as the active volcano Stromboli, the turning point for another offshore classic, the Rolex Middle Sea Race.
Maxi fleet in offshore mode
The yachts racing the Volcano Race comprise an interesting mix of sizes from the 18.29 metres of Enrico Gorziglia's Good Job Guys
(ITA) to the 30.5 metres of Igor Simcic's Esimit Europa 2
(SLO). In the Mini Maxi fleet, the two 72-foot Judel Vrolijk
near sisterships, Robertissima III
(ITA) and Jethou
(GBR) are expect some close-quarter duelling. Brad Butterworth, four times America's Cup winner calling the tactics on the British winner of the Rolex Capri Sailing Week 2012, is looking forward to the competition: "The new
Jethou is a bigger boat so we've got some learning to do, and we are happy to learn as much as we can in the long race. We've got high hopes for the Volcano Race. We've won it before and the crew is very excited to be sailing against another very good team
"I don't mind going offshore, as you know
", jokes Rolex Testimonee Paul Cayard, who won the Whitbread Round the World race with EF Language
back in 1998. As tactician on Robertissima III
, (former Rán 2
, the three times Rolex Mini Maxi World Champion), the experienced American also expects good breeze for the Volcano Race: "It looks like it will be good wind going down, but maybe the wind will die on the way back, which would be a shame. But that's sailing in the Mediterranean
". Asked about the conteste with Jethou
, Cayard smiles: "It's going to be interesting…
On Thursday, the 12 Maxis and Mini Maxis will revert to inshore mode as they start a series of three coastal or windward leeward races.
While the Maxis take on the Volcano Race, the nine TP52s will undertake a practice race before the first in their series of inshore races begins at 12:00 CEST on Tuesday . Competition is fairly even in this fleet, with strong teams like Doug DeVos' Quantum Racing
(USA), winner of three TP52 world championships; Niklas Zennström's Rán Racing
(SWE), the current TP52 world champion; and, Alberto Roemmer's Azzurra
(ITA), winner of the 52 Super Series in 2012.
It is tradition that Rolex Capri Sailing Week attracts some of the most talented owners and professional sailors in the world. Aside from Paul Cayard and Brad Butterworth, the crews include the German three-time Olympic champion Jochen Schümann on Esimit Europa 2
, the French Whitbread Round the World Race winner Lionel Pean on Hubert Wargny's Villa Saxe Eiffel
, Italian ace Vasco Vascotto on Azzurra
, Spanish multiple record holder Juan Vila and America's Cup winner Ed Baird on Quantum Racing
, Italian America's Cup expert Francesco De Angelis on Michelle Galli's B2
,… the list is seemingly endless.
The varied social programme for the week starts with an official Rolex reception for the competitors, followed by the Rolex Owner's Dinner on Thursday and the Rolex Crew Party at the emblematic Canzone del Mare on Friday. All the week's winners will be announced on 24 May during the prize giving ceremony held at the Marina Grande.
Further information on the Rolex Capri Sailing Week may be found at www.internationalmaxiassociation.com