The 2013 Perini Navi Cup: Big Boats, Big Fun

Brand-centric gatherings typically offer owners the chance to interact with their peers in social settings, on cruises or on the racecourse. The subtext usually involves builders exposing owners to their latest models to set the stage for future upgrades. If that were the case at the fifth Perini Navi Cup, held in Porto Cervo on the Italian island of Sardinia in late August, no one was saying—or they could not have cared less.
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The 2013 Perini Navi Cup: superyacht racing at its competitive best and social finest.

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Brand-centric gatherings typically offer owners the chance to interact with their peers in social settings, on cruises or on the racecourse. The subtext usually involves builders exposing owners to their latest models to set the stage for future upgrades. If that were the case at the fifth Perini Navi Cup, held in Porto Cervo on the Italian island of Sardinia in late August, no one was saying—or they could not have cared less. The racing was good, the parties were fun and the setting was sublime.

“You build a boat like this with these people and they’re like family,” says Steve Firestone, owner of the 171-foot (52-meter) Tamsen, who was attending his first Perini Navi Cup.

The four-day event, based at the tony Yacht Club Costa Smeralda, was a relaxed, yet elegant affair with cocktail parties, a lavish buffet dinner with dancing on the club terrace and a fireworks show to close. Fifteen yachts attended representing a wide range of Perini vintages and sizes. The oldest yacht in the fleet was the 151-foot (46-meter) Antara, delivered in 1991. The newest was the just-delivered 197-foot (60-meter) Seahawk. The largest yacht was the 289-foot (88-meter) The Maltese Falcon with her distinctive, fully mechanized modern iteration of a square rig.

The race committee managed to bookend one day of heavy squalls with two glorious afternoons of competitive sailing. Perini Navi and the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda brought in top-shelf superyacht race management including Principal Race Officer Peter Craig of Premiere Racing and Jim Teeters, who has long been at the forefront of large-yacht race handicapping. Handicapping was done under the rule Teeters developed to level the playing field among large yachts of disparate designs. An evolution of the so-called “Bucket Rule,” the International Super Yacht Rule is fast becoming the handicapping system of choice for the growing number of superyacht regattas. The mission is not only to make the racing more fair, but to ensure the safety of the participants—who may not be experienced racers—and avoid collisions between yachts that sometimes turn like tankers.

“There’s a reason they don’t do dogfights in 747s,” quips Hank Halsted, principal of Northrop & Johnson Newport and organizer of the Newport and St. Barth’s bucket regattas.

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While there were America’s Cup and Volvo Ocean Race veterans scattered among this year’s Perini Navi Cup fleet, for the most part, the owners participating were more casual racers, with some, such as Firestone, racing their boats for the first time. Firestone raced with nearly 60 people on board Tamsen, mostly comprising his extended family, which includes a gaggle of children.

“There are two different groups that have participated in the explosion of superyacht racing,” says Bruce Brakenhoff, Jr., of Perini Navi USA. “There are the pure cruising boats and pure cruising owners that are having a blast doing this once or twice a year, sailing against like boats and like-minded owners. The second group, that is kind of new to all this, is the superyacht guys who have real race programs and race teams and go from regatta to regatta. They’re quite different, those two groups.

“The people we have at the Perini Navi Cup this year, obviously with the exception of P2, and maybe XNoi now, are all of the cruising group. What they get out of a Perini Navi Cup is not so much the racing. They’re here for the parties, the family fun, the bonding and also sort of capping off the summer. It appears to me they’re absolutely relaxed, absolutely having fun, and the racing is secondary.”

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That doesn’t mean they weren’t taking their racing seriously. Conditions for the three days of racing were generally light, with delayed starts on the first and third days waiting for the breeze to fill in. The second day began with a strong squall sweeping through the marina just as the yachts were leaving for the racecourse. A continued threat of squalls resulted in the racing being abandoned. The 164-foot (50-meter) Silencio took home the overall winner trophy. Second and third were P2 and Parsifal IV.

For more information: perininavi.it

Partners of the 2013 Perini Navi Cup were Moncler, Vhernier, Pommery, AXA Yachting Solutions, ICET Studios and Audi.

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