International Maxi Association Announces New Circuits and President

The International Maxi Association has announced a new president and race circuit for 2016 on the layday at the Rolex Cup.

Layday at the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup and Rolex Maxi 72 World Championship provides the opportunity for the International Maxi Association (IMA) to hold its Annual General Meeting within the magnificent clubhouse of the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda.

Today's meeting was significant as it marked the end of the Presidency of the IMA by Claus Peter Offen, owner of the Wally 100, Y3K. The new IMA President, voted in today is fellow German, Thomas Bscher, owner of the Wally Open Season, current Wally class leader at the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, which concludes in Porto Cervo tomorrow.

“I am delighted to accept the role as President of the International Maxi Association,” said Bscher. “It is the first time I have taken over an association like this. I am doing it because I like what we are here doing and if we do a little bit of extra work, it won’t do any harm to anyone...”

Bscher has been a regular competitor at the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup for the last 15 years and among his aims under his Presidency are to increase participation in IMA events as well as membership of the IMA itself.

“We have to get the supermaxis back,” he states. “There are an incredible amount of those that are not participating here. I think that is goal number 1. We have to design a prize which is more suitable for them.”

Meanwhile at the smaller end of the IMA spectrum, the Maxi 72 could not be more competitive with six boats this week contesting the class’ Rolex-backed World Championship in Porto Cervo. “They are doing well. What for them is vital is that they keep the costs under control,” says Bscher.

Mediterranean Maxi Offshore Challenge

Starting this year is a new circuit for maxi yachts. Run by the International Maxi Association, the Mediterranean Maxi Offshore Challenge will link together the leading offshore races in the Mediterranean. The Challenge will score three of the following four events:

  • Rolex Middle Sea Race, starting 17th October 2015 from Valletta, Malta.
    Organised by the Royal Malta Yacht Club, on a 600 mile course anti-clockwise around Sicily, taking in the active volcano Stromboli in the north and the islands of Pantelleria and Lampedusa in the south, before returning to Valletta.

  • Volcano Race, starting 16th May 2016 from Gaeta, Italy
    Organised by the International Maxi Association in conjunction with the Yacht Club Gaeta E.V.S, the 400 mile Volcano Race heads south, past Capri and across the Tyrrhenian Sea looping the Aeolian Islands, the volcanic archipelago lying off the northeast coast of Scilly, before returning to Gaeta.

  • Giraglia Rolex Cup, starting 15th June 2016 from St Tropez, France
    Organised by the Yacht Club Italiano, this 243 mile race starts in St Tropez and heads for Genoa, Italy, via the Giraglia Rock off the north coast of Corsica.

  • Palermo-Montecarlo, starting 21st August 2016 from Palermo, Italy
    Organised by the Circolo della Vela Sicilia and the Yacht Club de Monaco, this 430 mile race runs from Palermo on the northwest coast of Sicily north past Sardinia and Corsica to the finish in Montecarlo.

New International Maxi Association President Thomas Bscher said of the new Mediterranean Maxi Offshore Challenge: “It is a very nice idea and I hope it will lure more participants into doing more than one or two events if they have a chance of doing well in the whole thing. If you win, that it will be an important prize, something to remember.”

Further developments

At the AGM, Secretary General Andrew McIrvine talked through some of the success stories achieved by IMA owners around the world, including the 8th line honours victory by Bob Oatley's Wild Oats in the 2014 Rolex Sydney Hobart race.

Meanwhile this week’s Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup has seen changes in the class structure. It is the first time the Maxi 72s have competed in a World Championship, the fully fledged grand prix boats having been hived off from the top end of the Mini Maxi fleet.

In their place the Mini Maxi Racing class has been created. This is responding to a demand from high performance racer cruisers such as Maximilian Klink's Botin 65, Peter Dubens' Mani Frers-designed day-sailor Spectre and this week's winner, Roberto Lacorte's Mark Mills-designed 62 Supernikka.

“They are defined mainly on DLR - light displacement boats that can plane,” explains McIrvine. “Then because there were four Spirit of Tradition boats, we were able to invent that category – that’s boats that are 20+ years old, relatively heavy displacement yachts, such as the Swan 65s. Since then we’ve had two people come up and said they’ll bring their boat back.”

2016 Maxi 72 regatta schedule

Following their class meeting earlier this week, the Maxi 72s have announced an enlarged and ambitious program for 2016, centred around taking part in the 50th anniversary Newport Bermuda Race. The schedule comprises:

  • Key West Race Week, 18-22 January
  • RORC Caribbean 600, Antigua, 22 February
  • Maxi Yacht Caribbean Cup, Virgin Gorda, 5-9 April
  • Voiles de Saint Barths, 12 - 17 April
  • 162nd New York YC Annual Regatta, 10-14 June
  • 50th Newport Bermuda Race, 17 June start
  • Copa del Rey, 1- 6 August
  • Rolex Maxi 72 Worlds, 5-10 September

Maxi 72 Class Manager, Rob Weiland commented: “Next year we have an amazing number of events in the best locations. It’s great for the class and a programme that I feel is one of the best I’ve ever seen. From five boats in Key West, RORC Caribbean 600, Rolex Maxi Virgin Gorda, Voile St Barth and Newport we will see three or four boats boats in the Bermuda Race, then we ship the boats straight to Palma for Copa del Rey and the Rolex Maxi 72 Worlds. Then in 2017 it will again be much more Mediterranean-orientated.”

New International Maxi Association President, Thomas Bscher with Secretary General, Andrew McIrvine.James Boyd
New president Thomas Bscher is the owner of Wally Open Season, currently leading the fleet in Porto Cervo.Carlo Borlenghi