Last day of Monaco Classic Week ended in a grand finale with wind, a Belle Epoque atmosphere on the quays, elegance parades for the yachts, a 176m long table set for a final banquet of 450 guests: without a doubt this 12th edition has kept its promises, with a total of 115 yachts: 52 sailing yachts, 52 12’ Dinghies, 21 powerboats and Rivas, 12 motor-yachts and five classic yoles on the water.
The event spanned the history of yachting from the gaff cutter Partridge, the doyenne of the fleet launched in 1885, to the Italian 1992 America’s Cup Challenger Il Moro di Venezia.
Vintage convertible cars arrived on the quay in the morning, with drivers in stripy shirts opening the doors in style to passengers in fabulous hats adorned with flowers to protect them from the sun and shyly holding up their skirts to step in and out of the vehicles.
Monaco, where glamour has always reigned is remembering the heady days of the Belle Époque era, when the yachts participating in Monaco Classic Week were only just out of the shipyard and taking part in some of the most famous races in history.
All the crews were in high spirits for the elegance contest, parading with sails neatly folded in front of a jury presided by Princess Beatriz de Orléans-Borbon, assisted by Princess Camilla de Bourbon des Deux Siciles and Adriano Robolzi, who will not only judge the vessel but also the crew’s attire and whether naval etiquette is being respected and that the flags, whether national, courtesy or owner’s flags are correctly made to the rigging.
Outside the harbour a steady easterly filled in, coupled with a swell and waves that buffeted these old rigs, causing guests on board to turn pale as the more seasoned sailors on board revelled in the conditions. With all sails up many put their “racing machines” through their paces, as the designer of Britannia referred to them at the end of the 19th century.
A steady 15 knots saw the full spectrum of yachts off to a good start, with the massive schooner Elena of London at full speed as she crossed the line providing an unforgettable image on the 15nm course from the bay of Monaco to La Mala. Sadly there is often a price to pay for some in exceptional conditions like these which saw the 1908 Fife Viola dis-masted off Cap d’Ail and having to abandon, and the doyenne Partridge also withdrawing as a precaution in conditions that were too tough for this particular old lady. The first to cross the line was Il Moro di Venezia followed by Rowdy, Olympian, Manitou and Chinook. The final ranking will be decided on corrected time, based on the CIM rating which governs these classic yacht regattas.
Tomorrow – prize-giving at 11.00am.