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Steeped in tradition and history, classic yacht sailing draws sailors and spectators alike on the New England coastline every summer to kick off the 2017 Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge – North American Circuit in Marblehead. This year, which is Panerai’s 12th year of hosting classic yacht regattas in North America, saw for the first time in the NA PCYC Series spinnakers allowed on the course, with 14 participating yachts choosing to fly their bright colored sails to the excitement of spectators.

The opening Marblehead regatta this year was full of exciting finishes with both races following a pursuit format. Competition was tight on both days giving smaller boats an edge on Saturday and alternatively big boats the edge on Sunday with the closest finish, after 18 miles, of 7″ between Tilly XV (1912 Wilhelm von Hacht Sonder Class) and Adamant (1937 Fred Goeller Adams Interclub.)  Last year’s defender of the Grand Prix class, the 1970 Sparkman & Stephens 12-Metre Valiant who hails from Marblehead took home both the Grand Prix and Best Overall awards. 

Since 2005, Officine Panerai has been the title sponsor of the Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge – a global series that has grown to 11 classic yachting regattas, and pays tribute to the Brand’s historic ties to the sea. For 2017, the international circuit is comprised of a four-part Mediterranean Circuit, a 5-part North American Circuit (this year with the inclusion of Bristol, Rhode Island) and single classic yacht racing events in Antigua and the Isle of Wight, UK, the latter two of which took place earlier this season. Each year, the race draws over 200 different yachts from around the world to compete for the coveted Panerai trophies.

The 2017 PCYC North American Circuit consists of the Corinthian Classic Yacht Regatta (August 11-13, Marblehead), the Nantucket Regatta (August 18-20, Nantucket), the Opera House Cup (August 20, Nantucket), Herreshoff Classic Yacht Regatta (August 25, Bristol, Rhode Island) and the Newport Classic Yacht Regatta (August 26-27, Newport, Rhode Island).

Panerai’s passion for the sea dates back to its early military history in the Mediterranean. In early 1936, the commandos of the Italian Navy tested the first-ever military diving watch, which was produced by Officine Panerai. Since then, the high-end Italian-designed, Swiss-made watchmaker has been associated with the sea, and admired for the luminous and innovative nautical instruments and timepieces the company has been producing for more than a century.


To celebrate the start of the weekend, Panerai sponsored a community tie-in event on Thursday at the Marblehead Museum, with guests from neighboring Yacht Clubs (Eastern and Boston) joining in the festivities.  Guests where hosted to social activities organized by the Organizing Authority held at the Corinthian Yacht Club including a welcome cocktail on Friday, regatta dinner on Saturday and the official award ceremony and evening cocktails on Sunday night.


There were great sailing conditions on both days in Marblehead with winds ranging from 8 to 10 knots on Saturday with an over casted sky and 10 to 13 knots on Sunday with sunny skies.  The Saturday race was a 14.75 mile reach race towards Boston and back.   Sunday’s race was an 18.5 mile race twice around Bakers Island with upwind, downwind and reach legs.  Both regattas ended at the mouth of the harbor giving spectators a great view from the iconic Marblehead lighthouse.  


Vintage Division:

Grand Classics Class: Marilee (1926 Herreshoff NY40)

Corinthian Class: Neith (1907 Herreshoff Bermudan Cutter)

Day Racer Class: Tilly XV (1912 Wilhelm von Hacht Sonder Class)

Grand Prix Division:

Grand Prix Yachts: Valiant (1970 Olin J. Stephens 12-Meter)

Overall Best Performance (Panerai Watch Recipient):

Valiant (1970 Olin J. Stephens 12-Meter)