Sept 10, 2020
As sport begins its careful resumption following the lengthy interruption caused by COVID-19, the biennial Rolex Swan Cup will take centre stage in early September as one of the first international sailing competitions. The 21st edition is scheduled to take place from 6–13 September in the renowned sailing environment of Porto Cervo, Sardinia.
The revered event, launched 40 years ago, unites three long-standing partners: Nautor’s Swan, whose high-performance yachts have been at the forefront of nautical design for more than half a century; the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda (YCCS), a standard-bearer for excellence within the sport for a similar period; and Rolex, the Swiss watchmaker whose support for sailing dates back over 60 years.
Racing commences on Tuesday, 8 September and runs through to the following Sunday. The combination of intense short-course windward/leeward races and longer-distance coastal courses, which thread through north-east Sardinia’s rugged yet beguiling Maddalena Archipelago, provides professional and Corinthian sailors alike with compelling competition.
Nautor’s Swan has always pushed the boundaries to design yachts that perform to the most exacting requirements and endure. Its skill and heritage as a boatbuilder is considerable and the Rolex Swan Cup is the ultimate showcase. At recent editions, more than 100 of the marque’s yachts have attended, and while this year’s event may be smaller, it will still range from early designs of the 1960s through to the latest cutting-edge models, including the remarkable ClubSwan 36 drawn by the peerless naval architect, Juan Kouyoumdjian.
Competing yachts will be divided into various groupings, including the ClubSwan 36, ClubSwan 42, Swan 45 and ClubSwan 50 One Design classes – where the yachts are identical and the focus is firmly on crew work – and categories based on age (Sparkman & Stephens’ designs), performance (Grand Prix) and size (Swan Maxi) for those in excess of 30.5m (100 feet). Competition is relentless. Margins on the water are tight and there is usually drama until the very last race.
While the Rolex Swan Cup draws an array of leading sailors, it is the yachts that are the stars. Immaculately maintained, they elicit a shared pride among Swan owners. This solidarity is demonstrated in the sense of fair play that prevails throughout the week. According to Leonardo Ferragamo, the owner of Cuordileone and chairman of Nautor’s Swan, “Swan owners have passion and a noble approach, which is characterized by the racing and the spirit that shines through at the Rolex Swan Cup.”