A magnificent winner. With the victory of Altair in the Panerai Transat Classique 2015, an veritable icon of the classic sailing world has added her name to the trophy of the Atlantic Yacht Club. This marvellous schooner dating from 1931 is for yachting enthusiasts everywhere a paradigm of elegance thanks to her sublime lines, the care and precision given to her restoration, and her superb performances in the most prestigious regattas on the Mediterranean circuit. With her remarkable win in real time and corrected time, on a course that took her from Lanzarote to Fort-de-France, Altair has been elevated to the status of legend.
On the second step of the podium is Argyll, built 1948 and designed by the celebrated American architect Olin Stephens, a name that draws admiration from every sailor worth his salt. Brought together for the adventure by Sabine Masquelier under the command of skipper Emmanuel Fontaine, the latter well known for his incredible success in the Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge series, the crew showed immense determination and remarkable sailing skills throughout the race. Gweneven, built 1975, completes the winning trio. Not only the smallest boat in the race, she too was designed by that genius draughtsman Olin Stephens. She produced an impressive performance considering the difficult conditions prevailing in the first two-thirds of the race. A podium featuring three boats from three different eras, of three different sizes (134’, 57’ and 38’) and with three different rigs (schooner, yawl and sloop) is a fitting conclusion to the Panerai Transat Classique 2015, a truly exceptional event that is inclusive, balanced and gives all its contenders a chance.
This edition of the Panerai Transat Classique has been remarkable for a number of reasons. Firstly the pace of the yachts was phenomenal and they all established new personal records in terms of distance run over twenty-four hours and top speeds. Topping the list of the fastest in the fleet was Argyll with an eye-watering peak of 18.8 knots, while the 18.2 knots logged aboard Vagabundo II also merits our respect. These are impressive turns of speed for classic boats. And such performances are even more impressive when you take into account the fine physical condition of yachts and sailors alike when they arrived in Fort-de-France. Indeed, no boat reported serious damage or injury to a member of crew. And this is one of the most important lessons of the past couple of weeks because every person in the race was committed to sailing fast and sailing safe. It was a remarkable Panerai Transat Classique 2015 also by the very high level of competition.
The distances between the yachts, despite the impression of an incohesive fleet, were always minimal. That six boats arrived within a period of twelve hours, on 23 January, is proof of the intensity of the struggle out on the ocean, undoubtedly in no small measure due to the presence of some top-quality sailors. In no particular order there were Bruno Jourdren on Corto, Sonar world champion several times over and medallist in the Beijing Paralympics; Thierry Duprey du Vorsent aboard Amazon, former crew for Loïc Peyron on the Trophée Jules Verne in 2011–2012 aboard Maxi Banque Populaire V; and Gildas Mahé on Gweneven, a veteran of the Figaro and the Transat Ag2r with Jean Le Cam and Bernard Stamm.
Begun in 2012, the Atlantic Yacht Club’s partnership with Officine Panerai is a natural extension of the Florentine luxury sports watch-maker’s commitment to classic sailing. Officine Panerai is already the undisputed leader in that area thanks to its sponsorship of the Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge, the top international circuit for such craft. “Elegance, history, artisanal craftsmanship, uniqueness. The allure of vintage sailing is the product of age-old values which it shares with luxury sports watch-making. The Panerai Transat Classique 2015 is an event that not only expresses those same values but also encompasses a great passion for the sea, a sense of challenge and the audacity of confronting the ocean”, declared Officine Panerai CEO Angelo Bonati.
Founded in Florence in 1860 as a workshop, shop and school of watch-making, for many decades Officine Panerai supplied the Italian Navy in general, and its specialist diving corps in particular, with precision instruments. The designs developed by Panerai in that time, including the Luminor and Radiomir, were covered by the Military Secrets Act for many years and were launched on the international market only after the brand was acquired by the Richemont Group in 1997. Today Officine Panerai develops and crafts its movements and watches at its Neuchâtel manufacture. The latter are a seamless melding of Italian design flair and history with Swiss horological expertise. Panerai watches are sold across the world through an exclusive network of distributors and Panerai boutiques.
PANERAI CLASSIC YACHTS CHALLENGE
In honour of its historic links to the sea, Officine Panerai has promoted classic sailing culture for many years through its sponsorship of the Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge, the leading international circuit for these vintage craft. In 2007, the company also acquired and restored the Bermudan ketch Eilean. Built in 1936 by the legendary Fife yard at Fairlie in Scotland, she is now the brand’s ambassador at vintage and classic boat rallies and regattas.
ATLANTIC YACHT CLUB
Atlantic Yacht Club has been established on very strong foundations consisting of a mixture of key ingredients: sailors and skippers having performed outstanding offshore races, passionate people willing to expand the boundaries of classic offshore challenges, and gentlemen wishing to maintain a strong spirit fair play in line with the finest tradition of seaman ship. After only few years of life, Atlantic Yacht Club has brought together an outstanding group of distinguished sailors who have together already sailed hundred thousands of miles of offshore races around the Globe. Atlantic Yacht Club makes all its efforts to make this Panerai Transat Classique 2015 a memorable event which will be second to none for all participants and lovers of classic yacht challenges.
Comet Organisation is an event based communication agency specialised in sailing races. During the last few years, Comet took part in the organization of the Transat Classique 2008, Brest Classic Week 2010, Atlantic Trophy 2011 and Panerai Transat Classique 2012. Comet organisation is in charge of the technical organisation of the Panerai Transat Classique 2015 and work closely with Fédération Française de Voile and ISAF on all of those international offshore races.