Officine Panerai: Setting Sail

Pleione sailing in the Museum of Yachting Classic Yacht Regatta.

This summer luxury watchmaker Officine Panerai dominated the regatta season. The Italian manufacture hosted the annual Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge (PCYC) 2013, an international circuit for classic and vintage sails. The North American Circuit of the PCYC brought the Florentine brand’s passion for sailing from Marblehead to Nantucket and Newport. Along the way, Officine Panerai hit the high seas in style, from its Sailing Heals charity to celebrations with friends like Daniel Boulud.

While the Mediterranean Circuit kicked off in Antigua, on this side of the Atlantic the summer regatta season began in Marblehead, Massachusetts. Officine Panerai welcomed nearly 60 classic boats to the Corinthian Yacht Club for the first regatta of the North American Circuit on August 10. The much-anticipated event attracted several recently restored classic beauties from near and far, including QUEST, an 8-meter from Canada which won the Opera House Cup last year.

Sailing Heals Executive Director Patricia Boisvert, Haute Living Media Group CEO Kamal Hotchandani, Panerai North America PR Director Michele Gallagher

Despite a full day of rain on Friday, the two-day competition got underway under nearly perfect sailing conditions on Saturday. Under a clear sky, sailors set out to make the most of strong winds, which gusted up to 15-18 knots. Crews followed the coastline south towards Nahant, with Boston’s skyline in clear view in the distance. Immense, crew-manned racing yachts like SPARTAN, HEROINA and VALIANT, as well as smaller, family-manned yachts like NINA and SEA ROBIN all showed their mettle and spirit throughout the roughly 4-5 hour racing days.

On Saturday evening, Officine Panerai welcomed captains and crews to a family style dinner. Corinthian Commodore Ken Adam and Panerai North American President Rafael Alvarez presided over the event. During the dinner, local Bradford resident Trisha Boisvert spoke about Sailing Heals, a non-profit organization founded by Officine Panerai to take cancer patients and their caregivers out on the water for a healing day of sailing. There was also a speech by Sham Hunt, an Olympic sailing gold medal winner and the son of Marblehead’s own C. Raymond Hunt, who spoke about the design of his father’s legendary Hunt Yachts boats.

Summer Wind sailing in the Opera House Cup Regatta.

On Sunday the sun remained but the wind proved more elusive, with variable breezes that left the larger boats tactically changing course to find a breeze. BLACK WATCH clinched First Place, with co-owner Trevor Fetter taking home a PAM 000 timepiece from Panerai.

On Monday, as crews and boats were saying goodbye and departing the busy harbor, Officine Panerai helped Sailing Heals and host captains Gary Gregory of VALIANT and Alessandro Pagani of NINA welcome 16 “VIP guests” from Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center for a day out on the sea.

The next stop on the circuit was Nantucket, where Officine Panerai welcomed 48 boats, large and small, for the Opera House Cup on August 18. In honor of the regatta, the manufacture unveiled a new Officine Panerai Hospitality Lounge, a space for captains and crews to relax. The lounge got off to a spectacular start with the help of VIP guest Daniel Boulud, who created a special cocktail which he named “Full Sail”. Donations made by boat owners and crew to take home a souvenir limited edition “Full Sail” glass went directly to Sailing Heals and Nantucket Community Sailing.

Panerai NA President Rafael Alvarez, Panerai North America PR Director Michele Gallagher, Katherine Boulud and Daniel Boulud

As the wind picked up on a sunny Sunday, crews took to the 16-mile trapezoid racecourse toward Great Point Light. The light and variable winds out of the southeast proved tricky as the boats maneuvered around Panerai’s bright yellow course markers, but the tactical contest drew cheers from the hundreds of onlookers. The 12-metre VALIANT was the overall winner, earning Marblehead resident and owner Gary Gregory a PAM 000 “Base Logo” Luminor. It was an especially meaningful victory for Gregory, as he and his crew welcomed patients from Sailing Heals at each stop on the North American circuit.

Panerai flags at the International Yacht Restoration School (IYRS).
Museum of Yachting Classic Yacht Regatta in Newport

For the final stop on the circuit, Officine Panerai welcomed nearly 50 classic yachts for the MoY Classic Yacht Regatta over Labor Day weekend. Panerai got the regatta off to an incredible start by sponsoring 25 “VIP guests” from local hospitals on four separate Sailing Heals outings on Narragansett Bay.

The winds were strong in the Bay the next day, as Saturday’s 18.5-mile race around Conanicut Island and the town of Jamestown got off to fast-paced start with 15-20 knot winds.

Spartan sailing in the Marblehead Corinthian Classic Yacht Regatta.

Sunday’s racecourse had a reaching start downwind under Newport’s grandiose Pell Bridge with varied legs in the upper Bay and finished back in front of the Museum of Yachting tent at the Panerai Hospitality Lounge, located at the water’s edge of Fort Adams State Park. Local Sparkman & Stephens 53’ sloop SONNY took home the prize, earning owner Joe Dockery a Panerai Luminor Base Logo Watch.

Later that night, Officine Panerai hosted a dinner on the lawn of the Museum of Yachting. Classic sailing veterans Jed Pearsall and Ed Kane co-hosted the Awards Ceremony, where the 1938 Sparkman & Stephens yawl BLACK WATCH took home the Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge NA Circuit Trophy for Overall Series Winner. Helmed by co-owner Trevor Fetter, BLACK WATCH had the best combined score between the three New England regattas.

BLACK WATCH crew: (back) Simon Davidson, Bruce Dyson; (front) Nic Judson, Panerai’s Michele Gallagher, Trevor Fetter, JJ Fetter and Lars Forsberg

On Sunday morning crews took part in the Newport tradition of hoisting their pennants and Panerai battle flags to circle the harbor for the Annual Classic Yacht Parade. BLACK WATCH gave a Panerai-cap salute to passers-by as a bagpiper played proudly at the bow.

From the boats that travelled from as far as Antigua to the boisterous crews on the smaller vessels making up for their size with gusto, it was an incredible season on the North American Circuit of the 2013 Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge. As the captains and crews sail off until next year, Officine Panerai’s incredible passion for the sport and their dedication to helping those in need enjoy the benefits of a day out on the water stays on.

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