How Rolex nurtures some of the biggest races in sailing
Since 1958, Rolex has partnered prestigious yacht clubs around the world. Here are a few to know.
CLUB NEW YORK YACHT CLUB
REGATTA ROLEX NEW YORK YACHT CLUB INVITATIONAL CUP
Having worked with Rolex since 1958, the New York Yacht Club (NYYC) is the club that marks where it all started – “it” being the watch company’s dozen official partnerships with yacht clubs around the world. Working with those prominent players, Rolex has helped to grow some of sailing’s biggest events. The founder of the famous America’s Cup, the NYYC is also behind the biennial Rolex New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup, an event that pays tribute to the Corinthian spirit – the spirit of sportsmanship in amateur sport. The event sees teams racing identically tuned IC37 boats on Narragansett Bay and Rhode Island Sound.
This year, Rolex begins a partnership with SailGP, a new global league headquartered in London and San Francisco. Designed to put the viewer at the heart of the experience, the racing series focuses on faster sailing in the form of foiling, where a boat’s hull or hulls are lifted out of the water to reduce resistance. The 2019 season sees six national teams piloting identical F50 catamarans – each weighing 2,400kg – that can move at speeds greater than 100kmh. Races take place throughout the year at five harbours: Sydney, San Franciso, New York, Cowes and Marseille.
CLUB YACHT CLUB COSTA SMERALDA REGATTA MAXI YACHT ROLEX CUP
A favourite with yachting enthusiasts, the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup is less spectator’s event and more annual gathering for sailing aficionados. Each year, it attracts a modest – about 50 – number of Maxi sailboats (large high- performance luxury yachts) but, here, it’s about quality, not quantity: Sailing talent, yacht designers and the most modern yachts come together at this week-long event, which takes place around the waters of Porto Cervo in Sardinia, Italy – which is also home to the event’s host, the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda.
CLUB ROYAL OCEAN RACING CLUB REGATTA ROLEX FASTNET RACE
More than 3,000 sailors, 340 yachts from up to 30 countries, and a 605-nautical mile (1,120km) course: These are the figures behind the Rolex Fastnet Race, the world’s largest ocean race, which takes place in the waters of the British Isles every two years in August. This regatta is run by the Royal Ocean Racing Club, which is headquartered in London, but has members from 54 countries. The club was founded in 1925 to “encourage long-distance yacht racing and the design, building and navigation in which speed and seaworthiness are combined”.
CLUB ROYAL HONG KONG YACHT CLUB REGATTA ROLEX CHINA SEA RACE
Kicking off in Hong Kong’s bustling Victoria Harbour and ending 565 nautical miles later in Subic Bay in the Philippines, the biennial Rolex China Sea Race is a key regatta in this part of the world. The event came about after a member of the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club sailed his new yacht from Manila to Hong Kong in 1959, and subsequently suggested to his fellow members that they repeat this endeavour, but as a race. Two years later, three yachts took part in the first China Sea Race.
CLUB CRUISING YACHT CLUB OF AUSTRALIA REGATTA ROLEX SYDNEY HOBART YACHT RACE
Every Boxing Day, as many of us are still recovering from the effects of too much turkey, the crew of more than a hundred boats gather in Sydney to take part in this 628-nautical mile regatta – which will in turn be watched by hundreds of thousands of spectators and viewers around the world. The race, which ends in Hobart, Tasmania, often sees challenging weather conditions that can change quickly. One of the most popular events on the sailing calendar, the race is organised by the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, which was established in 1944 by a few enthusiasts who wanted to take their vessels beyond Sydney Harbour.
A trio of legends and Rolex Testimonees who have made waves in the world of sailing.
He took up the sport at the age of eight. Today, Sir Ben Ainslie is one of the most successful sailors in Olympic history, having bagged five medals – four of them gold – in five consecutive Olympics since 1996. Having retired from Olympic competition in 2012, the English sailor now focuses his energies on the America’s Cup. In 2013, he won with the US-based team, Oracle. Now, the four-time Rolex World Sailor of the Year
is looking to lead a British team to win the America’s Cup, which would break a 168-year-old spell.
A seven- time world champion and two-time Olympian, American sailor Paul Cayard has also competed several times at the highest levels of elite sailing, including the America’s Cup and the Volvo Ocean Race (now known as The Ocean Race). His numerous honours include being inducted into the US Sailing Hall of Fame in 2011, and being named the US Rolex Yachtsman of the Year in 1998.
Over a year ago, Brazilian sailor Robert Scheidt announced his retirement from OIympic sailing. But the 45-year-old has since changed his mind and has his eye on the Tokyo Games in 2020. If things go according to plan, Scheidt might earn his sixth Olympic medal (he has five, including two golds). Not that the athlete has anything more to prove, with 12 World Championship titles and two Rolex World Sailor of the Year awards under his belt.