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2017 Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge
After rounds at Antibes (FR), Porto Santo Stefano (ITA) and Mahon (ESP), the Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge, the leading international classic sailing circuit, reaches its official conclusion at Cannes between September 26 and 30.
The 39th edition of Les Régates Royales de Cannes will culminate in the presentation of the end-of- season Panerai Trophies in the Vintage Yachts, Classic Yachts and Big Boats categories. The winners’ names will be added to the circuit’s Roll of Honour at the end of a very successful season: more than 250 historic craft, manned by around 2,000 crew, competed in the various stages of this year’s Challenge.
In all, just under 90 yachts from more than 10 different nations will be converging on Cannes where they will be split into different categories according to their sailing rigs and year of construction. This is one of the world’s largest and most diverse historic boat fleets built between the end of the 19th century and the 20th century to designs by the great international yacht designers and yards, not least Fife in Scotland, Herreshoff and Sparkman & Stephens in the US, and Camper & Nicholsons in England. Also attending will be a fleet of at least 40 Dragons. The world’s largest one-design keelboat class, the Dragon was designed in 1929 by Norwegian architect Johan Anker and this year celebrates its 30th year at the French regatta. .
The most spectacular category at Cannes will be the aptly-named Big Boats, genuine giantesses of the sea stretching in the case of Elena of London, a replica of a 1911 schooner, to a massive 55 metres. Also there will be the 40-metre Cambria (1928) and Moonbeam IV (1914), formerly owned by Prince Rainier and Princess Grace of Monaco, both names already inscribed on the Panerai Trophy roll of honour. Hallowe’en (1926) is one of the strongest contenders for the season title in her class along with Moonbeam of Fife (1903). They will be joined on the water by the equally-competitive Tuiga (1909), the flagship of the Yacht Club de Monaco and often helmed by Pierre Casiraghi.
The Vintage category will see a slew of prestige contenders for the title pulling out all the stops to the final mark, not least Linnet, a 1905 New York Yacht Club 30, Spartan (1913), Enterprise and two New York 40s, Rowdy and Chinook, both launched at the Herreshoff yard in New York in 1916 but with rigs. Also in this group is Tilly XV (1912), holder of an important personal record: she is the first and only yacht to have competed in Panerai’s Caribbean regattas at Antigua, on the North American circuit and at Les Regatés Royales de Cannes in a single season!
Vying for the Classic title this year will be, amongst others, Ardi (1968), representing the Club Nautico Versilia in Viareggio, Encounter (1976) and the historically-important Il Moro di Venezia I, chasing her third win after 2013 and 2015. Lulu (1897) will be celebrating 120 years since her launch – she boasts a long and glorious career that includes competing in the Paris Olympics of 1900. The two-master Veronique is also marking 110 years since she splashed in England in far-off 1907. The “younger” wood-built yachts expected include Cholita, Ellad, France, Havsornen (Sweden), Manitou (US) aboard which J.F. Kennedy used sail, and Skylark of 1937, all celebrating the passing of a mere eight decades since their launch.
This will also be the last regatta of the season for Eilean (Vintage category), the 1936 ketch restored by Officine Panerai. Since her relaunch, this wood-built two-master has represented Panerai at a long list of official occasions and classic boat regattas and rallies. Throughout the regatta there will also be plenty of entertainment on the dockside for both competitors and the visiting public. Events will span everything from tug-ofwar competitions to parties for boats celebrating milestone anniversaries, a concours d’elegance, live music and stands featuring the work of local artists and craftspeople.
The official programme commences with the opening ceremony on Monday, September 25. Then, starting on Tuesday, September 26, the classic and vintage yachts will compete in five races, one per day, in the stretch of sea overlooking the Gulf of Napoule and Ìles de Lérins. After each race, the Panerai Lounge will provide a welcome refuge for crews to relax and discuss the day’s results. The prize-giving ceremony takes place on the afternoon of Saturday, September 30, in the Vieux Port, where the boats will be moored throughout the event.
Founded in Florence in 1860 as a workshop, shop and school of watch-making, for many decades Officine Panerai supplied the Italian Navy in general, and its specialist diving corps in particular, with precision instruments. The designs developed by Panerai in that time, including the Luminor and Radiomir, were covered by the Military Secrets Act for many years and were launched on the international market only after the brand was acquired by the Richemont Group in 1997. Today Officine Panerai develops and crafts its movements and watches at its Neuchâtel manufacture.
The latter are a seamless melding of Italian design flair and history with Swiss horological expertise. Panerai watches are sold across the world through an exclusive network of distributors and Panerai boutiques.
In honour of its historic links to the sea, Officine Panerai has promoted classic sailing culture for many years through its sponsorship of the Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge, the leading international circuit for these vintage craft. In 2007, the company also acquired and restored the Bermudan ketch Eilean. Built in 1936 by the legendary Fife yard at Fairlie in Scotland, she is now the brand’s ambassador at vintage and classic boat rallies and regattas.
The Panerai Guide to Classic Yachts Yachts is available for download at:

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