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Eighty stunning classic and vintage sailing yachts provided an unforgettable sight in the opening Mediterranean round of the 2015 Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge in Southern France, with Eva (1906) winning the gold medal in the first Challenge of Challenge races.
The triumph of Chinook (1916) in the Vintage category, Il Moro di Venezia (1976) in the Classic, Mariska (1908) in the Big Boats and Freya (2003) in the Spirit of Tradition brought Les Voiles d’Antibes, the first Mediterranean round of the 2015 Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge, to a close on June 7.
The owners of the four winning yachts also received an Officine Panerai watch apiece, courtesy of the Florentine luxury sports watchmaker which is sponsoring the leading international classic sailing circuit for the 11th consecutive year.
After taking victory in the trophy in 2014, the gaff cutter Chinook made a fine start on the new season in the Vintage category for her new owner, already a dedicated competitor on the circuit.
Il Moro di Venezia too will be attempting to take the top step on the season podium once again, having already won the Classic category in 2013. Mariska, on the other hand, made a very promising debut in the Big Boat category. She is one of just four International 15-metre Classes still afloat and, in the course of the upcoming rounds, will attempt to pull away from her closest rival in the class, Moonbeam IV (1914).
The Bermudan sloop Freya finished first in all three of her races in the Spirit of Tradition, leaving assiduous Panerai regulars of the likes of Savannah, Ilhabela II, Kis and Nazgul of Fordell in her wake.
The Challenge of Challenge, which is inspired by the spirit of the gentleman races of the past, is a new addition to the 2015 Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge season.
An event within the main event, it allows two craft from the same category compete against each other without any handicaps (adjusted time) or protests allowed. In short, the first boat across the line takes the honours.
The first Challenge of Challenges took place at Antibes between the two centenarians, Lulu and Eva. Both compete in the Vintage category and are gaff cutters. Lulu was built in France in 1897 to a design by Rabot. In acknowledgement of her status as a pleasure craft of national historic interest, she receives maintenance grants from the French State. Eva, on the other hand, debuted in 1906 at the legendary Fife shipyard in Scotland having been designed by William Fife III.
Eva took home the gold medal put up by Officine Panerai. Her crew then jokingly presented Lulu’s crew with t-shirts with the name Eva emblazoned on them which they sportingly donned. Sportsmanship, loyalty and mutual respect are the bywords of this new competition, in fact.
Officine Panerai remains the world’s leading classic sailing event organiser with nine rounds planned for the 2015 calendar in the world’s most beautiful, tradition-rich waters.
Officine Panerai also underscored its links to classic sailing by creating the Luminor 1950 Regatta 3 Days Chrono Flyback Titanio, a chronograph designed specifically to bring a revolutionary simplicity to race countdowns.
With the second round just concluded (the Argentario Sailing Week at Porto Santo Stefano in Italy from June 18 to 21), the 2015 Mediterranean Circuit will now move to Spain for the XII Copa del Rey in Minorca, from August 25 to 29) before concluding at Cannes in France with Les Régates Royales from September 22 to 26.
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 2015 Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge season comprises a total of nine races, including regattas in Antigua in the Caribbean, Newport and Nantucket in the US, and the Isle of Wright in the UK.
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 Panerai develops and crafts its movements and watches at its Neuchâtel manufacture in Switzerland. The latter are a seamless melding of Italian design flair and history with Swiss horological expertise.
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