The growth of superyacht regattas has led to an increase in new owners participating. So, too, though, has the intensity of the competition. Captains and owners are spending more time, and money, on race preparations as a result. This just isn’t practical, or appealing, for all participants and potential participants. Two organizations want to alleviate it, having owners and captains instead “invest” in the fun factor. They’re the Superyacht Racing Association (SYRA) and the Offshore Racing Congress (ORC). They’ve created the Corinthian Spirit Class as a result.
The SYRA came about five years ago to enhance fair and safe superyacht-specific competition. Its members include owners, owners’ representatives, and industry firms, including race organizers. The ORC, meanwhile, dates to 1969. It’s the world governing body for offshore sailboat racing, providing scientific rating systems for the yachts. That in turn helps create fair racing among broad boat types. Together, the SYRA and ORC have created fair superyacht racing. However, Peter Craig, SYRA’s executive, says members have talked more about the need for a Corinthian Spirit Class over the past two years.
The term Corinthian spirit is often used to describe a fun, sportsmanship-oriented atmosphere in racing. “An important part of our mission is to ‘enhance the enjoyment of superyacht owners,’ and this initiative is all about that,” Craig explains. The initiative will still keep racing close, but reduce the sometimes intensive nature of optimizing the yachts. Corinthian Spirit Class yachts will not require spinnakers, only jibs on furlers or hanks. Eliminating spinnakers eliminates needing to supplement permanent crew. (Some owners have gotten so caught up in the competition concept that they’ve sought professional sailors.) Handicapping is simpler, too, requiring a shorter application and lower fee.
Craig believes the Corinthian Spirit Class will not just appeal to yacht owners. He sees strong acceptance within the industry. The Superyacht Cup organizers are already on the SYRA’s side. “We know yacht owners who love the superyacht racing scene, but aren’t all about the racing,” says Kate Branagh, the Cup’s event manager. “Providing them with an alternative that doesn’t require excessive race preparation or augmenting permanent crew, while still enabling them to participate and compete, has already been very well received.”
The SYRA emphasizes that the Corinthian Spirit Class still keeps safety top of mind. It requires adherence to the official Racing Rules of Sailing and its superyacht appendix.
So far, five regattas in 2017 will offer the Corinthian Spirit Class. They include the St. Barths Bucket, the America’s Cup Superyacht Regatta, and Superyacht Cup Palma.