11 classic yachts, all built before 1939, and 200 crew members
A memorable first edition that sailed its way into history
The schooner Mariette proclaimed overall winner
The emotional bond that ties Richard Mille to classic yachts was forged in the meeting of two minds. A friendship with Benoît Couturier led the pair to create Team Fife and on from there onwards to establish the Richard Mille Cup as a way of renewing the purpose of these sailing yachts. The idea revolved around reviving the sport as it was in its heyday, when these great yachts of the early 20th century were first conceived. And that meant being able to enter them in regattas resembling those of the period.
‘These early 20th-century sailboats were designed and built for nothing but speed, and it’s that extreme quality I appreciate. Their beauty and efficiency contribute to their formidable personalities. Whether you look at their lines, sails or masts – everything is gorgeous. Even the slightest detail proves to be exceptional – because each has its function. These yachts, built from noble materials, have a soul. There are actually tremendous similarities between these boats and our watches. Granted, they’re not from the same era, but they are born of the same philosophical approach,’ explained Richard Mille.
With this two-week inaugural edition, the Richard Mille Cup revisits the sites of the glorious regattas of the pre-war era. Racing on the Channel is a journey in time. The first great yacht races of history took place on this body of water. Reinforcing this renewal of tradition, a group of prestigious yacht clubs with a with long histories threw themselves into supporting this unprecedented competition. The Royal Cornwall Yacht Club in Falmouth, the Royal Dart Yacht Club of Dartmouth, and the exclusive Royal Yacht Squadron in Cowes, founded in 1815, all opened their doors to the competing yachts and crews. William Collier, organiser of the Richard Mille Cup, offered the following insight:
‘The Richard Mille Cup has brought back to life part of the pre-war racing circuit. We have been hosted by yacht clubs and raced on the courses that the participating yachts were conceived to compete on. The spectacle of a fleet of pre-first World war gaff cutters and grand schooners racing hard has not been seen at these venues in our times. Racing for two weeks has been a real challenge of endurance and sportsmanship, which in turn has given way to the joys of great camaraderie and unforgettable memories. The Richard Mille Cup has opened a new dimension in classic yacht racing, and one which we will take even further in the future editions.
Logbook of an edition riding waves of emotion
11 June 2023. Falmouth. English Cornwall. Eleven yachts, two hundred sailors. Men and women of all generations and a variety of backgrounds; all driven by the same passion – racing classic yachts – came together to compete in a spirit of sportsmanship. And the programme? Inshore and passage races taking the fleet of antique sailing yachts from Falmouth to Cowes via Dartmouth, before crossing the English Channel to the final finish line in Le Havre, France.
17 June 2023. The weather was ringmaster today, dictating the script and distributing roles. Onshore breezes, sea breezes and lack of wind all put the experience and adaptability of skippers and their crews to the test. For each race, tactics devised the day before were replaced with new ones at dawn. The races followed one after the other, and yet were never the same. The sea makes its own rules.
Jockeying for position, choosing the right sail combination made for a succession of manoeuvres all carried out by hand. The skippers orchestrated each call with the utmost rigour. Sails were gybed and tacked, vast wooden booms moved from port to starboard. Mainsails, jibs, staysails and Yankees billowed in the wind. The suspense was breath-taking. A battle between Atlantic, Adix and Mariette brought emotions to a fever pitch. The schooners cut through the waves with majesty. The timekeeping pronounced its verdict for these yachts, as well as for the Team Fife vessels, Mariquita, Moonbeam IV and Moonbeam, and for Ayesha, Cynthia, The Lady Anne, Kelpie and Tuiga, this last helmed by Pierre Casiraghi, Richard Mille’s partner yachtsman. After each hard-fought round, the yacht clubs welcomed the day’s winners and congratulated all participants. Victory is only beautiful when it is shared!
22 June 2023. In the port of Cowes, on the Isle of Wight, the crews are confronted with a course modification that adds a gate between two virtual marks off the French Albâtre coast. Weather charts are consulted. Strategies studied. As on previous days, the competitors observed each other and adjusted their course accordingly. Once underway, the fleet set off relishing the fair breeze and occasional gusts. w. The final finish line and overall rankings awaited them 100 nautical miles away.
25 June 2023. At the Société des Régates du Havre, founded in 1838, the cup – designed by the famous jeweller Garrard – waited patiently to be engraved with the name of the triumphant vessel. At the end of the first edition, Mariette was awarded the privilege. A 40-centimetre replica of the perpetual trophy was presented to the winners in each category at a cheerful ceremony attended by all participants. Mariette took top honours in the Schooner class, whilst the gaff-rigged The Lady Anne won in the Cutter class.
The enthusiasm shown by sailors and admirers of authentic yachts at every port of call confirmed the brand’s choice to take part in this sport, with its long tradition of excellence. The first Richard Mille Cup has launched a story of classic sailing as yet untold. Impelled by a passion for elegance and a taste for performance, future editions will write the next chapters of an equally captivating logbook.