Published: Wednesday, 31 August 2016

An impressive and eclectic fleet of 121 Nautor’s Swan yachts are preparing to grace what promises to be a memorable edition of the Rolex Swan Cup in Porto Cervo, Italy Sept 11-18. The year 2016 marks the 50th anniversary of the launch of the first Swan yacht.

Rolex Swan Cup Receives 121 Entries In Six Classes 1

(Photos: Carlo Borlenghi / Rolex)

The 19th edition of the biennial Rolex Swan Cup is also a continuation the partnerships between organisers Yacht Club Costa Smeralda (YCCS), Nautor’s Swan and Title Sponsor Rolex, whose partnership dates back to 1984. 

Not only does 121 entrants surpass the 93 attendees at the previous edition in 2014, the range of competing yachts pays testament to both the longevity of Swan yachts and the company’s desire to continually push the design envelope. A Classic division of historic designs counts nearly 40 entries, and the Maxi division is enhanced with the presence of three cutting-edge, freshly launched Swan 115s.

The fleet will be divided into six classes and contest five days of racing in one of the world’s most compelling and challenging sailing environments. Emerging as class winner after navigating a week of varied conditions, testing racecourses and top class competition is a notable achievement and one justly rewarded with a Rolex timepiece at the final prize giving.

The largest yachts competing at the Rolex Swan Cup represent the marque’s latest design thinking. The Swan 115, the new flagship of the Swan Line, was conceived in 2014.

Rolex Swan Cup Receives 121 Entries In Six Classes 3

The model will be represented by three iterations – Solleone, Shamanna and Highland Fling 15. The navy-hulled Solleone, commissioned by Nautor’s Swan Chairman Leonardo Ferragamo, was the first build of a model that celebrates the style, quality and boat building mastery, which has come to define the brand.

In a manner similar to Rolex, Nautor’s Swan has made its reputation through a forensic attention to detail and precision, ensuring its products lead the way and meet the exacting demands of their Owners. Designed by Swan’s house-designer German Frers Snr, the Swan 115 features a performance driven hull shape, with a plumb bow and powerful stern. Twin rudders ensure responsiveness and the deck configurations are defined by elegance and simplicity. The handcrafted interiors are noted for the light, satin finish of the teak and modern detailing.

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Shamanna and Highland Fling 15, the latter owned by perennial Porto Cervo campaigner Lord Irvine Laidlaw, were launched this spring, and the prospect of all three of these superyachts duelling on the picturesque waters of Sardinia’s Costa Smeralda promises to be special. 

The Maxi Class, open to yachts measuring above 80ft / 24.38m, will be a powerful display and includes among its numbers the Swan 90s B5 (CAY) and Nefertiti (GBR), the Swan 80s Plis Play (ESP) and Selene (CAY).

Intense competition is expected in the 24-strong Mini Maxi division (comprising yachts measuring 56-80ft/17.06-24.38m). Featuring entrants from 16 different countries, the Class includes Yukihiro Ishida’s Yasha from Japan, an event winner in 2014 following a 12-year hiatus, together with Gerard Logel’s Swan 601 Arobas (FRA), Amanda Hartley and Jaime Olazabal’s Swan 56 Clem Primero (ESP) and the consistent Swan 60 Bronenosec (BVI). 

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The Swan Grand Prix class, open to yachts measuring under 56ft/17.06m, is highly anticipated with 19 yachts scheduled to compete including three brand new ClubSwan 50s, the first of a nascent one design class. The ClubSwan 50, drawn by Juan Kouyoumdjian, is at the cutting edge of contemporary yacht design, pushing the limits and intimating at yet another revolution in sailing prowess from this famous yard.

In a nod to Nautor’s longstanding traditions and heritage, the Classic division will feature nearly 40 designs from the pen of famed New York studio Sparkman & Stephens. Proof of the enduring quality, robustness and appeal of Swan yachts, these were all built from the mid-1960s through to the early 1980s.

Fittingly this historic occasion will be graced by the very first Swan creation ­– Swan 36 Tarantella featuring among the entrants. Together with Eugenio Alphaudery’s Josian (winner of the inaugural Rolex Middle Sea Race in 1968), Tarantella is the smallest boat in the fleet at 36ft (10.91m). She is a significant part of the Nautor’s Swan narrative, a yacht which when released included several genuine innovations for her time and helped set the company on the path to becoming the leading boat builder it is today. Parallels are evident with the launch of the first waterproof wristwatch, the “Oyster”, by Rolex in 1926 and the subsequent rise of the Swiss watchmaker to be a leader in its field.

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With defending champion Finola not expected to compete, Giuseppe Puttini’s Shirlaf and Vincenzo Onorato’s Mascalzone Latino will seek to better their second and third places from 2014. 

Competing in its own World Championship, the Swan 45 is always one of the most closely-fought and, given the one-design nature of the competition, one of the most finely-balanced contests. The German crew on Hendrik Brandis and Christian Nagel’s Earlybird have already claimed a staggering four titles and as defending champions will begin as favourites. Second in 2014, fellow German Christian Plump will hope to go one better and upset his compatriots by guiding Elena Nova to glory. 

Rolex Swan Cup Receives 121 Entries In Six Classes

(Engraved Oyster Perpetual Yacht-Master - Prize for 2016 winners)

The ClubSwan42 will also compete in its own one design competition where the defending champion is the Romanian boat Natalia.