The Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup in early September is set to be the pinnacle of the international Maxi season

The 2004 Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, hosted by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda in partnership with Rolex, is set to take place in Sardinia on 5-11 September.

This year’s regatta is set to be the pinnacle of the international Maxi season with a who’s who of the sailing and business worlds, including Luca Bassani, of Wally Yachts; Roy Disney, vice chairman of the board at Walt Disney Corporation; and Lindsay Owen-Jones, CEO of L’Oreal.

In addition, the preliminary entry list includes New York real estate mogul Harry Macklowe sailing his 112ft yacht, Unfurled, and Hasso Plattner, founder of software giant SAP, sailing Morning Glory. Disney and Plattner will once again go head-to-head in their Reichel/Pugh-designed Maxi Z86 yachts Pyewacket and Morning Glory (see photo).

The 2004 Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup will be the 14th running of the event and will consist of a series of round-the-buoys and coastal races, taking advantage of the traditionally challenging racing conditions of Sardinia in early September. Three classes will compete. If the seasonal weather holds true to form for early fall in Port Cervo, competitors will experience a variety of sailing conditions ranging from light thermal breezes to full-on Mistral winds that can blow between 20-30 kts.

Last year’s Admiral’s Cup winner Robert Oatley plans to bring his new Reichel/Pugh Wild Oats from Australia to compete. Launched in July 2004, Wild Oats is 65ft loa, with a canting ballast system similar to that of Pyewacket and Morning Glory.

To win the coveted Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup title in the IMS fleet, this year’s racers will have to get by last year’s winner, Neville Crichton, returning in his 90ft “sled,” Alfa Romeo.

Luca Bassani, head of Wally Yachts, is a perennial competitor in the Wally class, racing the 89ft Tiketitan. Alberto Roemmers of Argentina will also return with a brand-new 98ft Wally, Alexia, to complete what he started last year when a collision on the second day of racing forced him to retire from the regatta, which he had been leading.

The Spirit of Tradition class will once again showcase classic yachts. The American investment mogul George Lindemann will bring his 180ft Adela. His most direct competition will be Italian Francesco Micheli’s 178ft, Shenandoah of Sark, and Ferruccio Fiorucci’s splendid Alejandra.