Since it was created in 2010, the Corsica Classic regatta has become a highlight of the Mediterranean sport and lifestyle calendar. This year a new chapter launches – extending the event for a second week (first week, August 21-28; second week, August 30-September 6).
“Each day’s regatta takes the fleet from one beach, bay or port to another – providing competitors with incredible racing through the Mediterranean’s finest and most beautiful locations,” says Thibaud Assante, president and founder of the regatta. Yachting aficionados without boats will be able to find places as crew for a day (€300). “The atmosphere is very convivial; we welcome holidaymakers and families,” continues Assante.
“All classic yachts, approved by the CIM [International Mediterranean Committee] and yachts in the ‘esprit de tradition’ class, approved by the IRC in 2016, are eligible to enter the race which is part of the official circuit organised by the CIM and French Association of Classic Yachts [AFYT],” explains Assante.
With the Isle of Beauty as a backdrop, 40 of the world’s most beautiful classic boats will navigate (with crews of up to 16 – €150 and €100 per crew member for the first and second weeks) an island adventure, with competitors arriving from England, France, Monaco, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands and the US. There are three categories: vintage (before 1950), classic (from 1950 to 1972) and esprit de tradition (from 1972 to 2016).
Art historian and dealer Alain Moatti’s Serenade is “challenger of the season” after winning the Trophée Pasqui, Villefranche, reaching third place in its class at Les Voiles de St Tropez – and scooping the Dorade Trophy elegance prize at the Régates Royales, Cannes. Moatti’s 61ft Marconi cutter was built in 1938 for the violinist Jascha Heifetz to participate in the famous TransPac, which he won at the first attempt, with a certain Humphrey Bogart among the crew. Heifetz used to keep his Stradivarius on board in a specially constructed safe. Moatti has been sailing since he was 14 and, now in his seventies, follows a strict fitness routine before racing. “The regattas bring to mind the invincible Armada of 1588!” he says. “The Dutch or Flemish masters would capture the atmosphere to perfection.”
Another boat to keep an eye on is L’oiseau de feu, built in 1937 for Ralph Hawkes and subsequently acquired by Pierre Cointreau, the liqueur producer, in 1962, before being listed monument historique in 1992. She is now in the proud possession of Swiss yacht enthusiasts Cyril Peyrot and Guillaume Floquet, one a real estate agent and sailing champion and the other a trader.
Also ready to race is Tara Getty aboard Skylark (1937), flagship yacht of the Los Angeles Yacht Club, and Corsica Classic winner in 2013 and 2015; the magnificent SY Olympian (pictured), refitted in Maine; and Palynodie II (1962, classified historic monument) – the latter vessel formerly belonged to French politician Gaston Defferre.
From the Ajaccio starting point, the route passes the sunny Sanguinaires Islands, Cala d’Orzo, Porto-Pollo, the Gulf of Valinco, Bonifacio, Porto-Vecchio, Santa Giulia and the Lavezzi Islands, as well as the postcard-perfect beaches and coves of Santa Giulia, Palombaggia and Le Petit Sperone. “Each day competitors follow a coastal route of around 20 miles, a distance that takes at least two-and-a-half hours to navigate on the shortest days, and up to seven hours on the longest,” says Assante.
The awards ceremony (August 28) will be held at the imposing 13th-century Bastion de l’Etendard, the iconic fortress dominating the entrance to Bonifacio’s port.
This year, to extend the adventure at the end of the competition, it’s all hands on deck as the yachts sail to Saint-Florent for a three-day regatta, mooring in Bastia’s old port (Vieux Port) at the northeast end of the island.