Guide to the 2011 Summer Sailing Season

Although this week’s completion of two terrific races – Block Island Race Week here in the US, and the 59th run of the Giraglia Cup, that early summer sprint across the Mediterranean from St Tropez to Genoa – marks the unofficial kick-off to the summer sailing season, there are many wonderful near shore, offshore and big boat sailing events to look forward to this summer.

Here is a guide to some of what’s ahead.

Baltic Week –  June 28 through July 3, 2011, Flensburg, Germany

The eighth Rolex Baltic Week will be held on the Flensburg Fjord in Northern Germany close to the Danish border. Flensburger Segelclub is hosting the event in cooperation with Kieler Yacht Club. The event is open to the 6-, 8-, and 12-Metre classes, with the 12-Metre and 8-Metre World Championships set to be the highlight of the week.

Ilhabela Sailing Week – July 3 through July 9, 2011, Sao Paolo, Brazil

The beautiful island of Ilhabela provides a stunning setting and challenging conditions for Rolex Ilhabela Sailing Week. The event, which had its first edition in 1973, has become a tradition for Brazilian sailors and its unique blend of hospitality, competition and camaraderie attracts sailors from all over the world. The steady trade winds produce great sailing conditions that test a fleet facing a mix offshore and inshore racing.

Bayfield Race Week – July 4 through July 8, 2011, Bayfield, Wisconsin

This week of sailing, which occurs annually over the Independence Day holiday, is really one of the highlights of the summer. When trotting around Bayfield or La Pointe, you’d be forgiven if you thought you were in New England instead of northern Wisconsin. The islands, though, remote as they are rising above the deep, cold waters of Lake Superior have a decidedly Baltic feel.

Trans-Superior Race – August 6 through August 11, 2011, Sault Ste Marie, Michigan to Duluth, Minnesota:

Covering roughly the same distance as the biennial Newport to Bermuda Race, the race begins near the Gros Cap Reefs Light located at the entrance to St Mary’s River from the eastern most part of Lake Superior proceeds westward keeping the Keweenaw Peninsula to the portside and onward to the Duluth Entry at the western most part of Lake Superior.

Photo credit: Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi
RAN, the 2009 overall winner, approaching Fastnet Rock

Rolex Fastnet Race – August 14 through August 19, 2011, Cowes, England to Fastnet Rock to Plymouth, England

The biennial Rolex Fastnet Race has been an established fixture on the ocean racing circuit since 1926 and attracts a diverse entry list capped at 300 yachts. The 608 nautical mile race is a test of strategy and skill with challenging tidal currents and changeable weather. The fleet starts from the Royal Yacht Squadron at Cowes, races out of the Solent down the English Channel to Land’s End and across the often tempestuous Celtic Sea to the Fastnet Rock, before returning on a reciprocal course to the finish off Plymouth.

International Women’s Keelboat Race – August 29 through September 1, 2011, Rochester, New York

In 1985, Rolex supported US SAILING in establishing a women’s international keelboat championship. Over thirteen editions the biennial Rolex International Women’s Keelboat Championship has hosted over 2,500 of the world’s best female sailors. It has helped alter the course of women’s sailing and is universally recognized as the pinnacle of competitive keelboat racing for women. In 2011, for the second consecutive time, the Rochester Yacht Club will host the regatta.

Maxi Yacht Cup – September 5 through September 10, 2011, Porto Cervo, Italy: The Costa Smeralda provides a unique backdrop and world-class sailing conditions for the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, one of the highlights of the Mediterranean yachting season. The event developed from the first-ever Maxi World Championship held in Sardinia in 1980: the brainchild of the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda and its president, the Aga Khan. The regatta is now an eagerly anticipated annual event and attracts a sizeable fleet of the biggest, fastest, most technologically advanced yachts to Porto Cervo each September.

Big Boat Series – September 8 through September 11, 2011, San Francisco, California

Established in 1964, the Rolex Big Boat Series takes place annually on San Francisco Bay. In 2005, Rolex became title sponsor of this prestigious regatta, which comprises extremely competitive one-design and handicap racing. Widely recognized as one of the most important sailing events in the USA, this grand-prix racing regatta attracts top competitors and boats from across the USA and abroad.

New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup – September 10 through September 17, 2011, Newport, Rhode Island

The first edition of this biennial event, hosted by the New York Yacht Club in 2009, proved a huge success: international Corinthian competition between yacht clubs was long overdue. The 2011 event promises to repeat the excitement, with a fleet that includes the top six finishers from the previous event, ten invited international clubs and three American yacht clubs determined by a qualification series. The Invitational Cup is raced in one-design NYYC Swan 42s, which are identically tuned and equipped with supplied sails. Racing is over five days on Narragansett Bay and Rhode Island Sound.

Photo credit: Rolex / Daniel Forster