27 February, 2017
Another busy year lies ahead for the International Maxi Association, the body which for more than 30 years has represented the interests of maxi boat owners from around the world. The 2017 calendar, open to owners of all maxi boats (ie 60+ft LOA), features two new events in the Mediterranean; a four race championship running through the season; another record turn-out for September’s Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup; the year concluding with a special running of the RORC Transatlantic Race.
The season kicks off with two IMA-endorsed events in the Caribbean. The RORC Caribbean 600 took place this week with Hap Fauth’s Maxi 72 and 2015 winner Bella Mente successfully fending off George Sakellaris' Proteus, winner in 2016. Meanwhile George David's Rambler 88 claimed monohull line honours for a third time. Rambler and the Maxi 72s now move on to Les Voiles de St Barths in April.
In early May, Maxi racing will fire up in the Mediterranean at Sail Racing PalmaVela, an event originally set up in 2003 just for Maxi yachts. As usual there were will be a strong turnout of IMA boats led by President Thomas Bscher and his Wally 107 Open Season, racing in the highly competitive Wally Yachts fleet: Last year among 11 boats, Jean-Charles Decaux’s Wally 77 J One won by a mere point ahead of Philippe Ligier's Wally 80 Ryokan 2.
It will also be the first full fleet line-up for the Maxi 72s, where all eyes will be on the latest boat, Dario Ferrari’s Cannonball, the first Maxi 72 design from Botin Partners. Her crew will feature many who previously raced on the Maxi 72 Robertissima.
Joan Besalduch, Commodore of the Real Club Nautico de Palma, organiser of Sail Racing Palma Vela, commented: “I am pleased to welcome the Maxi fleet back to Palmavela, which will be the starting gun for the IMA’s Mediterranean racing calendar. The success of this event has been due to our collaboration with the IMA, sailing conditions on the Bay of Palma and the club’s constant work to try new things. It is an honour for the RCNP to be part of the IMA club, whose yacht owners are always welcome at the RCNP.”
Over 1-3 June will be a new event on the IMA calendar: the 151 Miglia - Trofeo Cetilar. One of Italy’s fastest growing events, this overnight race starts off Livorno in Tuscany, heads up the coast to Marina di Pisa, crosses to the Giraglia rock off north Corsica, then heads south, past Elba, rounding Formiche di Grosseto before finishing in Punta Ala. Last year the event was won by IMA member Pier Luigi Loro Piana on My Song.
Roberto Lacorte, President of Yacht Club Repubblica Marinara di Pisa, organiser of the 151 Miglia - Trofeo Cetilar, together with Yacht Club Livorno and Yacht Club Punta Ala, commented: “Including the 151 Miglia - Trofeo Cetilar among the four regattas of the IMA's Mediterranean Maxi Offshore Challenge is a great honour for all the staff, for the yacht clubs, for the Organising Committee as well as everyone who has helped to achieve this result. Special thanks must go to all the owners who have participated in the 151 Miglia over the last seven editions, helping to make it one of the most prestigious events in the Mediterranean." Lacorte is also IMA Vice President of the Mini Maxi Racer division and owner of the Vismara 62 SuperNikka.
The 151 Miglia - Trofeo Cetilar coincides with the Loro Piana Superyacht Regatta held in nearby Porto Cervo, where a strong turn out of the IMA's largest yachts, including the Wally class, will be competing.
Another first for the IMA this year will be the Corfu Maxi 72 Challenge, hosted by the Greek-American owner of Proteus, George Sakellaris, solely for the Maxi 72s.
Maxi 72 Class Manager Rob Weiland commented: “The Corfu Challenge will be the first event to take place for the Maxi 72 Class in Greece. I have just returned from a visit to Corfu and Marina Gouvia and am impressed by the location, the facilities and certainly by the people.”
Weiland adds that at all the 2017 Maxi 72 events this season there will be five boats competing with the exception of the Rolex Maxi 72 Worlds where there will be six.
The biggest event on the IMA calendar will again be the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup (including the Rolex Maxi 72 Worlds) taking place as usual in Porto Cervo, Sardinia in September. This will feature the complete pantheon of Maxi yachts from 60+ft cruiser racers to 100ft Maxi and Maxi 72 grand prix classes, to separate classes such as the Wallys and Southern Winds and on up to the largest Supermaxis. In 2016 the longest yacht competing was the 49.7m long Dubois sloop Ohana.
The season concludes with the RORC Transatlantic Race. This year's event will be special as it will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda, a club with perennially close ties to the IMA. As a result it forms leg one of the Atlantic Anniversary Series and, for this year only, will finish at the YCCS's Caribbean clubhouse on Virgin Gorda.
Across the season, IMA members also have the opportunity to compete for the Mediterranean Maxi Offshore Challenge 2017. This comprises four event series of which boats must compete in three.
Having won the 2016 Mediterranean Maxi Offshore Challenge, George David’s Rambler 88 is facing stiff competition in this year’s Challenge from the Hungarian Reichel Pugh 60 Wild Joe, which beat the American maxi in last autumn’s Rolex Middle Sea Race, the 2017 Mediterranean Maxi Offshore Challenge’s first event.
This year, following the 151 Miglia - Trofeo Cetilar, the Challenge’s third event will be the Giraglia Rolex Cup, organised by the Yacht Club Italiano, and running from St Tropez to Genoa, via the Giraglia Rock. This is expected to have a strong maxi boat entry, including Sir Lindsay Owen-Jones’ WallyCento Magic Carpet³, line honours winner in 2016 and overall winner in 2015. The Challenge’s decider will be the Palermo-Montecarlo in August. This is another event on the ascent with 40 entries in 2016. In previous editions of the race, Igor Simčič’s 100ft Esimit Europa 2 has claimed line honours no less than five times.
In addition to the series winner, officers and members of the IMA choose a Boat of the Year: The IMA boat that achieved the best performance during the season.
Thomas Bscher, President of the International Maxi Association commented: ''2017 looks set to be a phenomenal year for the International Maxi Association. With a growing schedule of events, new boats being launched, new members joining our Association and, not least, the new affiliation with the J Class Association, I'm pleased to report that the IMA is very much on the ascent."
Earlier this month, the International Maxi Association announced its new relationship with the J Class Association which has resulted in the J Class being able to stage its first ever World Championship, taking place in August in Newport, RI. More here
International Maxi Association Calendar 2017
Sail Racing PalmaVela Palma de Mallorca, Spain 3 - 7 May All IMA classes
151 Miglia - Trofeo Cetilar Livorno-Punta Ala, Italy 1-3 June All IMA classes
Giraglia Rolex Cup St Tropez, France 14 - 17 June All IMA classes
Corfu Maxi 72 Challenge Corfu, Greece 3 - 8 July Maxi 72
J Class World Championship Newport, RI, USA 21-26 August J Class
Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup & Maxi 72 Rolex World Championship Porto Cervo, Italy 3 - 9 September All IMA classes
Rolex Middle Sea Race Malta - Round Sicily - Malta 21 October All IMA classes
RORC & IMA Transatlantic Race Lanzarote, Canary Is - Virgin Gorda 25 November All IMA classes
IMA Endorsed Events 2017
RORC Caribbean 600 Antigua 20 February All IMA classes
Les Voiles de St Barths St Barths 10-15 April All IMA classes
Loro Piana Superyacht Regatta Porto Cervo, Italy 30 May-3 June ,All IMA classes of 80+ft LOA
Copa del Rey MAPFRE Palma de Mallorca, Spain 29 July-5 August All IMA classes
Palermo-Montecarlo Race Palermo, Italy-Monaco 21-26 August All IMA classes
Les Voiles de St. Tropez St Tropez, France 30 Sept-8 Oct All IMA classes
Barcolana Trieste, Italy 08-October All IMA classes