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THE 2017 PANERAI CLASSIC YACHT CHALLENGE SEASON WINNERS, Hallowe’en, Linnet and Ganbare take class victories.


I Cannes if I want too! Once again, Les Règates Royales Cannes proved pivotal to deciding the overall winners of the Panerai Classic Challenge. After five races held in very light breezes that sorely tested both helmsmen and crews alike, the season trophies were won by Hallowe’en in the Big Boats category, Linnet in the Vintage Yachts and Ganbare in Classic Yachts.

Victory proved no trick and all treat for the crew of Hallowe’en as she finally took the top step on the podium in her 10th year of participation in The Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge. Blood, sweat and tears indeed.


Hallowe’en, launched in 1926 by the legendary Fife shipyard of Fairlie in Scotland, finally took the title of the 2017 season champion in the Big Boats category. Teak planked over an English oak frame, she is a Marconi cutter inspired by the lines of the great international 15-metre Classes. In 1927 she not only won the Fastnet but also set a record she held until 1939. Under the name Magda XII she played host to the Prince Olaf, the future King of Norway. Between the 1940’s and 50s she sailed in America as Cotton Blossom IV winning numerous regattas. In the 1980’s she was donated to The Classic Boat Museum in Newport and restored. Her rig has been changed several times during her lifetime. Fife himself described her as “perfect” a “gem”.


This year Hallowe’en competed in all four rounds of The Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge Mediterranean Circuit that took place in Antibes, Argentario, Mahon and Cannes. Irish owned she was manned by a non-professional crew from Europe, New Zealand and Australia. Her closest rivals were Moonbeam of Fife (1903) and Cambria (1928).


Italian Patrizio Bertelli’s NY30 Linnet triumphed in the Vintage category which was also probably the most fiercely-contested grouping with the two most competitive NY40’s racing today, Rowdy and Chinook and the one surviving NY50 Spartan, also vying for the top spot in every race. Linnet for her part had the honour of being helmed by a number of legendary sailors during the season such as Italian America’s Cup sailor Max Sirena and Brazilian Olympian, VOR and America’s Cup sailor Torben Grael.


The New York Yacht Club 30 (NY30) Linnet was built by the N.G Herreshoff shipyard in America and is the 10th of 18 NY30’s built. Approximately ten still remain on the water today. The number 30 refers to the class’s minimum length along the waterline, which is expressed in feet (one foot = 30.48 cm).


Linnet was later brought to Italy by Federico Nardi of the restoration shipyard Cantiere Navale dell’Argentario di Porto Santo Stefano in Tuscany. There she was fully restored for her new owner, fashion boss Bertelli whose company Prada sponsored the classic yacht circuit between the years 1999-2004. Linnet returned to sailing in 1998 finishing second in her class at Argentario Sailing Week in 2002 and 2003. She remains fashionably competitive to this day as her results this season clearly show.


And finally in the Classic Yacht category it was the 10.49-metre Bermudan sloop Ganbare built from red cedar at the Carl Eichenlaub in San Diego in 1973 that made it a two in a row when she successfully repeated her 2016 season victory in the Classic Yachts category. This was the first time since 2007 that a yacht won the category for two consecutive years providing further confirmation of the brilliance of the design by Californian Designer Doug Peterson who sadly passed away last June in San Diego. Doug was passionate about the classic circuit and worked tirelessly on the CIM rule and ratings in his time. I had the honour of working and collaborating with him on several occasions and miss his humour. This year, Ganbare skipped only the Mahon round and at Cannes fended off some very tough competition from all angles from the 20-metre Il Moro di Venezia (1976) and the 11-metre Ardi (1968).




Every year at the end of September 4,000 sailors on 300 boats descend on the pretty Port of St Tropez for 10 days for Les Voiles. Amazingly the Société Nautique de Saint-Tropez pulls it off under the team of André Beaufils and the steady firm hand of Frederique Fantino and her team who work all through the year to deal with the countless requests to participate from all over the world. As she explains “In Saint Tropez, each request is a case which requires special and continuous attention in order to satisfy the owners demands as best we can.” These requests are naturally studied in meticulous details according to their specific features, the type of yacht, Modern or Classic, and any other special request made by the yacht manager before confirmation is made. Berths in the port are also the subject of hot debate, everyone obviously wanting to be at the heart of the action of the little Port. Les Voiles de St Tropez, unlike other regattas issues daily modifications to the crew lists so every day a new crew list must be submitted to the Les Voiles team on reception prior to racing. It is all in the preparation and paperwork!







Competing in their very own championship for the Rolex Trophy the four 15 m JIs, Mariska, The Lady Anne, Hispania and Tuiga raced hard all week but by the final race sailing was really just for fun for Christian Niels and crew (and wife) on Mariska, who had already sealed the deal for a final victory whatever happened on the last day. As it turns out, in the building breeze of the glorious afternoon on the Côte d’Azur, her adversaries made a gallant last stand and it was in fourth position that the 1908 Fife design finished the last race of Les Voiles 2017. Tied on points with The Lady Anne, the winner on the final race, Mariska is declared outright winner of the event, pocketing the highly prized Rolex Trophy thanks to the number of races won (three!). Following on from her victories in Palma and Monaco, Mariska wraps up her stellar season with a grand slam!




It is worth noting the class victories of the much loved ‘stars’ of Les Voiles de St Tropez who took home silverware, namely Moonbeam III in the Grand Tradition category, NY50 Spartan and NY30 Linnet in the Gaff-rigged Epoque, NY40 Rowdy, Cholita and Cippino II among the elegant period Marconi-rigs and introduced this year as a way to accommodate yachts that do not quite fit the current specified criteria of a classic yacht, the new “Guest Class” won by Maria Giovana II.





Savannah, the 1997 Modern Classic designed by Pendrick Yacht Design Newport won the Club 55 Cup on the lay-day, the 5th October defending Eugenia V the 1968 Rhodes design. It is a gentlemen’s race, a 15 mile sprint from Saint Tropez to the beach of Pampelonne set out by the protagonists gathered at the Club 55 to celebrated the new Defender! Savannah is 27.43 metres, a beautiful modern classic sloop commissioned originally for an American owner. She is inspired by the J-Class lines with a John Munford interior and built at Concordia boatyard MA. She is currently based in St Tropez.



Only eleven boats out of twenty entrants managed to finish the 2017 edition of the Gstaad Yacht Club Centenary Trophy on 5th October, the only trophy reserved for boats of one hundred years and more. It is an honour to be invited to race for this uber exclusive yacht club based in the Swiss mountains.


In the best possible debut the Sonderklass racer Tilly XV (1912) sailed effortlessly and efficiently to a well-deserved victory by an experienced crew with skipper Juerg Moessnang and owner Siegfried Rittler who has owned and cared for Tilly XV for over 27 years.


“I’m a mountaineer and a sailor. I have been building and sailing wooden boats since the age of 15. In 2012, when she was turning 100 years old I restored Tilly XV to her original state and since then she has been on a winning streak, both in the USA and in Europe. Winning the Centenary Trophy is something special, you cannot just show up but you have to be invited and sail well.” Explained Rittler.


The event, raced in pursuit format with staggered starts features and especially created and constantly refined handicap system, allowing very different boats in size and rig to compete on equal terms with the first boat to cross the line off the Saint Tropez break water to be declared the winner.


In winds that built from 5-20 knots during the course of the race, the final leg proved most thrilling. In pursuit racing, if the handicap system is correct all yachts come together at the end to provide a thrilling photo-finish finale. And so it did, Tilly XV, 2016 champion NY50 Spartan and NY30 Linnet fought together in a three-boat fight until the German boat pulled ahead and snatched significant seconds to take line honours. “The finish was a bit like David against Goliath,” explained Rittler.


The glamorous prize giving party is the hot ticket of the week held at La Mistralée, the Chanel Mansion in the centre of St Tropez and every well-bred sailor covets a dance with the beautiful Chatelaine, Princess Bourbon of Two Sicilies.




The 2017 J – Class world Championship in Newport was won by Jim Clark’s Hanuman, built by Royal Huisman. The fleet of magnificent timeless racing yachts competing together was more thrilling than Americas Cup sailing has become. Spectators turned out in the streets and shorelines of Rhode Island to support and #jclass was trending globally. It was exciting!


The good news is that there is more to come. Following an AGM in New York in November, The J-Class Association can officially confirm that the J-Class will race at the following regattas in 2018. Participating yachts are not yet confirmed.


St Barths Bucket

Superyacht Cup Palma de Mallorca

Rolex Maxi Worlds, Porto Cervo

Les Voiles de St Tropez



Check out the season and Sign-Up now to access my FREE International Regatta Calendar 2018 for Vintage, Classic and Modern Classic Yachts. www.alicewiddows.com and follow me on social media @alicewiddows.

Alice C I’ A Widdows is a Regatta Manager on the classic yacht regatta circuit.   A keen yachtswomen and self – confessed island hopping addict, preferably by boat. Meet our Classic Yachting Columnist. You can find more at www.alicewiddows.com and on social media @alicewiddows