Ainslie heads a who's who of sailing talent at the 19th Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup

The 19th Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, organized by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda, gets underway today with an entry list of 40 yachts and a crew list headed by three-time Olympic gold medallist Ben Ainslie – who will be offering strategic tips to Neville Crichton onboard the 98-foot Alfa.

As well as Ainslie, gold medallist Torben Grael (who has his longer-term sights set on the Volvo Ocean Race) will skipper the 69-foot Alfa Romeo 3. Grael will hope to sharpen up his team’s inshore racing skills ahead of the first in port race in Alicante in October.

Ernesto Bertarelli, founder of the Alinghi syndicate and current holder of the Cup has chartered Dan Meyer’s Numbers in the Mini Maxi Division and is racing with three-time AC winning tactician Brad Butterworth.

Once again the canting keeled, carbon-fibre, super-maxi Alfa Romeo will brush shoulders with the bright work of Ranger and Velsheda, from the J Class era. Alfa Romeo will be expected to take on a showboating role by leading the fleet around the course each day. She is one of the leading exponents of the monohull arms race on the water today, and recently captured the course record in the Giraglia Rolex Cup.

Rambler is no slouch either. Despite arguably being last-year’s model with her fixed keel, she has proved twice in the past twelve months that big seas are not a problem, ripping-up the previous Rolex Middle Sea Race record by some 16 hours and the Rolex Buenos Airies Offshore Race record by nine.

The event will run from 1 – 7 September. Racing commences today and is scheduled for each following day.