Classic yachts descend on Monaco

As Tuiga entered Port Hercule on Saturday the 19th escorted by a flotilla of colourful Rivas and heralded by a storm of steam-boat whistles and horns, there was no doubt in everyone's mind that this Monaco Classic Week would go down in history as a truly memorable event.

Waiting to welcome the hundred-year-old flagship of the Yacht Club de Monaco were over 100 boats and their owners who had come to join in the anniversary celebrations. In total there were 50 classic yachts, 15 of which were over 100 years old, including five launched in 1909, 15 motor-yachts and over 40 Rivas, a name intimately associated with the Principality's history.

After a superb day's racing in breezy, sunny conditions on the Thursday, the centenary day on the Saturday was a journey back in time with all the participants and members of the public dressed in period costume. They came to admire the vintage cars as they drove in stately file round Casino Square, to watch the departure of Saturday's centenary race, and to revel in the atmosphere. A Scottish bagpiper on Tuiga – in honour of her designer William Fife III – was also a big attraction and added to the festive ambiance.

For the public there was an opportunity to take a trip on a Riva or steam-powered boat, to visit the three impressive training ships in the harbour – Sedov (117.5m), Palinuro (69m), Signora del Vento (85m) – or to take part in the photo Marathon organised by Fnac Monaco. An exhibition of around 30 vintage vehicles, including four Lancias from 1909 and two replicas of the Blériot XI, gave everyone a chance to discover more about our maritime and speedboat heritage.

Numerous personalities from the yachting world were there, from the classic yachts (Jacqueline and Marie Tabarly, Alessandra and Allegra Gucci), the competitive boats (Dennis Conner, Brad Butterworth, both four-time winners of the America's Cup, also Bruno Peyron, Philippe Monnet and Alexia Barrie), the speedboats (Carlo Riva, the “Ingeniere de Sarnico”) and the superyacht world (designers Espen Oeino and Luca Bassani, founder of the Wally Yacht yard).

Also present were Hublot President Jean-Claude Biver, Lancia President Olivier François, Credit Suisse (Monaco) President Franco Müller, and the Chinese actor Ye Liu.

Highlights included a moving tribute to Eric Tabarly when the crew of Tuiga offered their victory to Jacqueline Tabarly, and H.S.H. Prince Albert II expressing his gratitude to Mike Horn, who was elected Personality of the Sea 2009.

“For a long time now, the Principality of Monaco has set out to be an innovator in the world of yachting. This constant ambition to strive always for excellence has made it one of the top venues for international sailing and boating,” declared H.S.H. Prince Albert II, President of the Yacht Club de Monaco, recalling the early regattas from 1862, and the first motor-boat meetings organised in Monaco in 1904 at the instigation of Prince Albert 1st.

Yachting: a family tradition

The passion for yachting and the sea has passed down through generations of the Grimaldi family – from Rainier 1st (who held the rank of Admiral of France from 1304), to Prince Honoré II (owner of four ships available to the King of France), Prince Albert 1st (the Oceanographic prince), Prince Rainier III, a yachting enthusiast and founder of the Yacht Club de Monaco, and today Prince Albert II, President of the YCM since 1984.

The Yacht Club wished to honour this “trans-generational” transmission of a passion for the sea – Philip to Guillaume Plisson, Carlo to Lia Riva, and Eric to Marie Tabarly, to name a few.

“A wonderful place to meet like-minded people and to exchange experiences and ideas, the sea unites us and identifies us,” commented HSH Prince Albert II.

100 years of Tuiga: Tribute to her previous owners

“Every classic yacht meeting, every anniversary of these distinguished vessels gives us a wonderful opportunity to go back in time across a century of sailing. Behind each of these yachts there is a story, a human adventure that goes way beyond the design or sporting dimensions: it is the passion the owner has for their boat. However, we should never forget that we are only the guardians! It is fitting that we pay homage to them!” said Bernard d'Alessandri, Secretary General of the YCM.

As part of their tribute, the Yacht Club de Monaco had invited Duke Rafael Medina Abascal, grandson of the Duke of Medinaceli, who gave life to Tuiga a hundred years ago; Ian Rose, owner of the gaff rig cutter between 1970 and 1982; and Albert Obrist who gave her a new lease of life just before Tuiga became the Principality's marine ambassador.

It was also an occasion for Swiss watchmaker Hublot, the Yacht Club's official timekeeper, to present a new model. Called the Classic Fusion, it is a chic and sporty design inspired by Tuiga and personalised with the Monegasque club's insignia. “1909-2009, a fusion of tradition and modernity. We wanted to celebrate this anniversary by combining a classic material like pink gold to carbon and ceramic which symbolises the future”, explained Jean-Claude Biver.

 Historic reunions

Monaco Classic Week was also the scene of the first encounter between two replicas of the mythical schooner Westward, namely Eleonora (2000) and Elena, who was making her first tacks since leaving the boatyard in August. During Thursday's race the two 41m sister-ships provided a truly magnificent spectacle during a closely fought race in which Elena took the advantage.

Another long-awaited event was the arrival of the 15 Metre Marisqua (1908) who was moored alongside Tuiga. An historic reunion as the two yachts have not raced together since 1912!

Adventurer Mike Horn voted Personality of the Sea 2009

At the Nuit du Yachting dinner, HSH Prince Albert II presented South African adventurer Mike Horn with the Personality of the Year 2009 trophy. He described him as “a committed and passionate man who has invested a great deal personally for our planet, in putting his knowledge, expertise and practical skills to the service of education through his Pangaea project.”

The Winners in 2009

Classic yacht races, regularity trials, chefs' competition under the patronage of Alain Ducasse and elegance parades were among the events which threw the spotlight on a certain art of living at sea.

– Monaco Classic Week Trophy and La Belle Classe Trophy: Javelin (1897)

The coveted Monaco Classic Week Trophy takes into account results of all the various events, such as the elegance parade and “La Belle Classe” prize. This year it was won by Javelin who walked away with the Hublot Big Bang chronograph. It was a highly successful event for this beautiful gaff ketch which also won the prestigious “La Belle Classe” Prize, presented during the “La Belle Classe” party organised under the patronage of Moët Hennessy President Christophe Navarre. This boat underwent over 57,000 hours of restoration. Always with an eye for detail, her owner went into the forest himself to look for an oak tree that would provide the ideal curve for the mast. Original bronze fittings, an interior decor in the Directoire style – all the elements were kept and restored so that this 20m yacht could take to the water again in her original state.

– Elegance prize: R/S Eden (49 m)

– Chefs Competition: R/S Eden (49 m)

Organised under the patronage of Alain Ducasse, competitors had to prove their inventiveness and creativity in using Hennessy XO Cognac in the most complementary way, either iced, chilled or as part of the dish they prepared for the contest. The 18 chefs who took part excelled themselves, although not all were from the big boats – one from a Riva entered with a cold platter! The jury congratulated everyone on the standard produced which was higher than two years ago particularly in terms of presentation. The Japanese chef on R/S Eden lifted the Gold Chef's Hat prize ahead of SS Delphine and Altair.

– Manoeuvrability Trial

1st Steam-boat: Melusine (Bruno Martin Neuville)

1st Riva: Susanna (Mauro Zerial)

– Traditional Yacht race – Big Boat category

1st:Tuiga (1909, YCM)

2nd: Moonbeam of Fife (1903, Erwan Noblet)

3rd: Mariette (1915, Charly Wroe)

– Traditional Yacht race – Vintage Gaff Cutter category

1st: Oriole (1905, Francis Van de Velde)

2nd: Lady Trix (1909, Gérard Frey)

3rd: Bona Fide (1899, Beppe Zaoli)

– Traditional Yacht race – Vintage Marconi category

1st: Rowdy (1916, Graham Walker)

2nd: Mercury (1938, Cabau Jordi)

3rd: Kipawa (1938, Valtuni Claudio)

– Traditional Yacht race – Classic category

1st: Chaplin (1974, Bruno Puzone – Marine Italienne)

2nd: Galvana (1974, Borja Pella)

3rd: White Dolphin (1967, Fabrice Payen)

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