SCHOONER BATTLE

The 128-foot Naema – built in 2012 – won May’s inaugural Capri Classica Regatta in Naples, an event that attracted four giant schooners.

The regatta – the first round of the Schooner Cup Series – was created by the International Schooner Association in conjunction with the International Maxi Association. This Capri event will be followed by September’s Monaco Classic Week and Les Voiles de St Tropez, where the winner will be awarded the Schooner of the Year Trophy.

Naema – inspired by the 1938 Alfred Mylne design Panda, raced against Mariette of 1915 (a 138-foot 1915 Nathanael Herreshoff schooner), Orianda (85-foot 1937 Dahlstrom staysail schooner) and Puritan – a 126-foot 1930 Alden gaff schooner.

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Perhaps the most unusual feature of the regatta is the start protocol. While most yacht races start with boats jostling for position sailing to windward on a short line, the schooners resort to the ancient practice of starting at anchor with sails down. This was commonplace in schooner racing in the 19th century and even featured in early editions of the America’s Cup, an event won by schooners up until 1876.

Starting from anchor is a natural handicap system, as the biggest yachts can take up to 30 minutes to get underway, but are faster under sail than the smaller yachts that could weigh anchor and be sailing in as little as 10 minutes.

The regattas are structured around ‘schooner-friendly’ courses, given that these vessels all herald from an era when the principle was famously “gentlemen don’t go to windward”.

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