This year’s Rolex Swan Cup in Porto Cervo, Sardinia looks set to become the most popular edition yet of this ‘busy’ celebration of Swan ownership
If you could capture the essence of the world’s best-loved regattas and incorporate them into one event, you’d have something like the Rolex Swan Cup. Over the last two decades or so, word of this happy synergy has spread beyond the hard core of veteran Swan owners because this year’s event, hosted as ever in Porto Cervo by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda, is anticipating its largest ever entry list. Between 9-16 September, organiser Nautor’s Swan is expecting a record 125 yachts flying flags of 23 nations across five continents for this biennial festival of racing, relaxing, meeting old friends and making new ones.
To make the celebration even more special, this year marks the 20th anniversary of Mr Ferragamo taking the helm at Nautor’s Swan, sparking a rapid revival in the marque’s fortunes and an infusion of Italian design flair into recent launches.
Motoring out to the start line, with colourful battleflags snapping in the sun above smartly-uniformed crews, you are confronted with a cornucopia of Swan yachts. These range from the classy well-rounded cruiser-racers of the Swan line to the angular, aggressive racer-cruisers of the ClubSwan line, all intent on performing to their best and enjoying a day of hard, competitive racing. The fleet varies widely in vintage, and is bookended by the beautiful S&S Swan 36 Tarantella, the first Swan ever launched by Nautor in 1966 and still going strong, and the magnificent Frers-designed Swan 115 Highland Fling, one of the most recent.
To ensure close and exciting racing, organisers split the fleet into seven classes. Each of the one-design classes, the ClubSwan 42 (Class E), Swan 45 (F) and ClubSwan 50 (G), will race as such, ensuring tight, tense boat-for-boat battles throughout, with the simplicity of knowing that the winner on the water takes the race. Class C hosts all the classic S&S Swan designs. The attraction of these legendary scions needs no explanation, and the revered duo drew no fewer than 17 designs for Swan between 1966-77. There is a Swan Grand Prix class (D) for Swans of hull length 18.28m (60ft) or below. The two largest classes are Swan Maxi (B) and Swan Super Maxi (A), for boats of 18.29-27.43m (60-90ft), and 27.44m (90ft) and over. Expect to see around 20 of these powerful, elegant titans, including Highland Fling tussling with her sistership Solleone, the Swan 80 Selene and Nefertiti, a Swan 90FD.
The racing is some of the best anywhere in the world. The race committee, organised by Nautor’s Swan, has no fewer than 42 set courses from 10-54nm to ensure starts in anything but a flat calm, and each course threads its way around the spectacularly picturesque archipelago of La Maddalena.
When racing finishes, the crews return to Porto Cervo Marina or nearby East Dock, square away and hose down their boats before sharing a cold beer with the neighbouring boats as they share highlights of the day’s racing. Then crews repair to their lodgings and freshen up for one of many social events in one of several exclusive locations, some formal, some relaxed, all enjoyable.
This year, events include the opening ceremony and welcome cocktails at the YCCS Piazza Azzurra, the same place crews gather each day between 1600-1800 to have a drink together and catch up on the day’s racing. There is also The Nations Trophy Dinner, where participating skippers and crews meet up to exchange tips and anticipate the October event in Palma. After a relaxing layday on Friday, owners meet up for a special Nautor’s Swan Owners Dinner in the YCCS Clubhouse, by invitation, and on Saturday, partner and title sponsor since 1984, Rolex hosts a crew dinner at the nearby Colonna Pevero Hotel. The final event is, of course, the prizegiving, again at the Piazza Azzurra, where the trophies are handed out and international friendships sealed with a promise to meet here again in two years’ time.
As an event, it is highly seductive. The boats are a joy to sail, racing is well organised and invigorating, the evenings stylish, friendly and social, and the location quite stunning. It is, in short, the best possible advertisement for Nautor’s Swan ownership. If you want to enter the world of Swan, you could do worse than to choose Eurosia, an Italian-flagged, Frers-designed Swan 46 delivered in 1986. Brokerage photos show her in full cruising fig, with an upturned tender on the foredeck aft of a furled genoa, and an outboard on the pushpit – a reminder, if one were needed, that she is also a wellappointed, two-cabin, two-head family cruiser. What makes Eurosia extra special is that she has won the Rolex Swan Cup overall trophy three times. At €215,000 tax paid, someone’s taking her to the Rolex Swan Cup in 2020. Will it be you?
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