By Andrew McIrvine, IMA Secretary General
The last couple of years have seen very remarkable developments in our Association. Where previously our main purpose was to co-host our flagship event, the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, and influence any changes affecting maxis within ISAF/World Sailing or the rating offices, we have now extended our reach and are representing the interests of maxi owners with the majority of organisers of regattas in which maxi yachts compete.
The enthusiasm and encouragement of our Board of Officers, especially our new President, has allowed us to extend our sphere of influence successfully. As ever, we rely on the very generous help we receive from Rolex and the support we get from our members.
The significant increase in new members is valuable financially, but more importantly is an indication of our being on track, our actions seen as worthwhile by maxi owners. The relationship we have developed with many of the most influential yacht clubs around the world has made it much easier and practical for maxi owners to travel to different events. I would like to thank all the clubs for the cooperation they have shown us in helping to standardise race documentation and race management, and to create more predictable class splits. Our aim is to give maxi owners the confidence that if the regatta has IMA endorsement it will be a high quality event. Even now, this coming season shows promising signs that we will build upon the success of previous events. For example, entries to Capri are already up to the maximum of 25 that we can fit in the harbour! Meanwhile, again we will be helping run the inshore racing in Saint-Tropez for both the Rolex Giraglia and Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez.
As well as our traditional affiliation with Wally, it is good to see growing fleets from Southern Wind, Swan, CNB and Mylius getting involved with our events. Similarly, after a small hiatus, the magnificent J Class fleet is slowly reconvening, ready to be in Auckland, New Zealand in early 2021 for their second World Championship, run under the auspices of the IMA.
It is interesting to observe the substantial growth we are seeing currently in our Maxi class. This is both in terms of the number of new launches and increased competition, including 100ft thorough breds like Comanche and Black Jack, both heading from Australia to race with us in the Mediterranean this season.
There is also exciting news in the pipeline of a series of new race boats falling around the cusp of our Maxi and Mini Maxi classes. For this season our Mini Maxi classes have been remonikered. Although this might seem like a cosmetic change, in fact we are hopefully shedding the traditional and often misleading ideas of what a ‘racer’ or a ‘cruiser racer’ are in favour of a simple formula that will pit yachts of equal performance against one another. We can all agree that racing is much better when you can see your opponent! For this reason we are also introducing our Maxi Maxi 4 class which will be home to the ‘modern classic’ racers such as the Swan 65s.
I look forward to seeing you at 2020 Rolex Giraglia. The IMA team will be both in Saint Tropez and in Genoa. Happy to help.