Monaco Classic Week-La Belle Classe is not just a regatta but a voyage through yachting history as the final day’s Grand Parade of vintage sailing and motor yachts testify - from the last steam-yacht still active, the 78.4m SS Delphine (1921), to the fleet of 12’ Dinghy (3.67m) class gems via the awe-inspiring gaff schooners Puritan (1930) and 47m Orion (1910) making her return to Monaco, and the 15M IR yachts including organisers’ Yacht Club de Monaco’s flagship Tuiga (1909), Mariska (1908) and The Lady Anne (1912).

A highlight was an exhilarating race to the new Cala del Forte marina in Ventimiglia, Italy, an extension to Monaco’s Port Hercule, upwind into a 15+ knot easterly for a picnic on the quays before steaming back downwind to Monaco, a 16nm round trip. A race won by Meerblick Classic (1917), a 10-Meter Class (10mR).

all images © Studio Borlenghi

On the Mediterranean classic yacht circuit, this biennial event stands out as it unites a select group of both sailing and motor boats with the former being restricted this year to those built before 1950 with a wooden mast, plus 20 Rivas and Chris Crafts and other vintage motorboats and a dozen period motor-yachts including M/Y Blue Bird 1938.

On the last day, while the sailing boats were racing on calm blue seas in a light southwesterly, the 12’ Dinghies enjoyed back-to-back windward-leeward races, while the motorboats showed off how their timeless, elegant craft still perform so well in manoeuvrability and regularity contests.

All week each boat was subject to the intense scrutiny of a jury chaired by Sir Robin Knox-Johnston for the La Belle Classe Restoration Prize and an elegance parade contest on the last day to decide the winner of the Monaco Classic Week 2021 Trophy. Peter Simmons’s 1938 Fife-design yawl Mariella emerged triumphant. A very difficult task as all have been restored with the same passion and love for their boats. “In the end, it’s the heart that decides for each jury member,” said Sir Robin, which just about sums up what this meeting is about, the soul of yachting embodied in living maritime heritage.

Monaco Classics
Prizes and Trophies
Monaco Classic Week Trophy 2021: Mariella (1938)

The 33 classic sailing yachts were divided into four groups, according to their size, age and rig type. After three days of racing, the results are as follows:

Big Boat: 2 races validated
1. Mariella (Fife 1938) - Peter Simmons
2. Tuiga (Fife 1909) - Daniel Pereira
3. Mariska (Fife 1908) - Dan Polsjak

Classic: 2 races validated
1. Stiren (Stephens 1962) - Oren Nataf
2. Dambuster (Illingworth & Primrose) 1962 - Nicholas Hill
3. Brynhilde (Parker 1958) - Niall Robinson

Vintage Marconi - 3 races validated
1. One wave (6M IR) - William Borel
2. Meerblick Classic (1917) - Gabrielle Kohlmann
3. Skylark (Olin Stephens 1937) - Martin Fox

Vintage gaff - 3 races validated
1. Viola (Fife 1908) - Kostia Belkin
2. Olympian (Gardner 1913) - Guillaume Fetas
3. Vistona - (McPherson 1937) - Gian Battista Borea d'Olmo

La Belle Classe Restoration Prize:
S/Y Mariella (1938)
Iran (motorboat - Stempler Corsier Port)
M/Y Blue Bird of 1938
S/Y Olympian (Gardner P-Class 1913)

Elegance Contests:
Motorboat: Iran - Eric Andre
Motor-yacht: Istros (1954) - Mr Nuten
Sailing yacht: Viola (Fife 1908) - Kostia Belkin