by Katia Kulawick-Assante The 5th Edition of the Corsica Classic that took place August 22-30th is far away my favorite one.
Probably because the casting was fantastic, probably because the week was made of incredible moments and sceneries, probably because the sailing was so fulfilling, and probably because of the smiles we found on everyone’s face at the end of the week.
Visually, the 200 sailors participating in the regatta were dressed in Lacoste, which gave the teams an immediate sense of style. Style was the major part we wanted to focus on this edition because of course sailing is the core, but we really wanted to enjoy the sailing lifestyle like Sail Couture!
Lacoste dressed all the regatta teams with a total color block look from their “Marine Alphabet” summer line and was for the first time a sponsor to a classic regatta since its creation in 1933! Sebago® was also an official partner and dressed the staff and organization teams with their iconic Dockside®, so we all looked good from head to toe.
Of course, to make a good regatta, you need good boats. And we were lucky to count 23 beautiful entries this year.
We had among us for the first time, S/Y Dorade from the St Francis Yacht Club. The classic yacht designed by Stephen Olins in 1929 is now owned by Matt Brooks and his wife Pam Rorke-Levy. It was very interesting talking to them and hearing that there are only a few classic boats in the Bay area (hey we gotta change that folks!)
I must say that most of the boats were a little a bit intimidated by the American team performances. And they were so right: Dorade won the Corsica Classic 2014 in Vintage Marconi Category!
We also had for the first time a beautiful boat just back from refit in Maine : S/Y Olympian was doing her first regatta after getting back on the circuit at the Corsica Classic. Her deep dark green color helped her win the Elegance prize by Sebago® at the end of the week and everyone agreed on that! On the water, we all fell in love with her shape and classic flow. The Lady also won the Vintage Gaffer (Aurique) category just in front of S/Y Owl.
We had for the first time with us a Tall Ship. It was like having a heavyweight in the welterweight championship but everyone loved Johanna Lucretia and her Captain, Roger. So we’re thinking about opening a class for them next year!
With us also was Oiseau de Feu, a legend among the classic sailing boats, a very organic yacht, very impressive during the regatta. Designed by Charles E. Nicholson in 1937, she was just bought by two young Swiss skippers, and trust me, the Old Lady is still in shape. So here we are all gathered in Calvi and the idea is touring around Corsica until Porto-Vecchio in 8 days.
Meanwhile, in Calvi everyone enjoyed the opening party, held as usual at Tao on Saturday night. In this famous night bar created in 1935 overlooking the Citadel, the owners are still playing live at the piano every weekend and their moto is “Be happy today because tomorrow will be too late.” It was a good occasion for everyone to bound and be relax before what was about to happen… Sunday, the first day, we were stuck in Calvi: the weather, too windy, was dangerous and everyone was invited to join the next departure line in Girolata.
Monday was a tough day as everyone left for Girolata really early – 7 hours of sailing for the longest trip when usually you can do it in 2 hours- with a very bad sea. And no time to rest as the next day the regatta was taking off at 12pm for Ajaccio, so another long day of sailing ahead. The teams finally gathered in the City Hall in Ajaccio on Monday evening where the Deputy Mayor warmly welcomed everyone. He explained the the huge czech crystal chandelier in the Napoleonian hall has a sistership at the White House. After a cocktail with the famous Bruccio (goat cheese filled) buns and local wines, we had another gathering at the bar La Part des Anges where we showed the images of the first day on water.
Tuesday, Ajaccio-Cala d’Orzu: A very short distance, with a very little wind so it took forever… But once we arrived on the beach, Chez Francis, the party was waiting for us : cocktails on the beach with Corsican delicacies, followed by a dinner offered for all the participants with a sea soup, Fish Brandade and a chestnut cake. Each table had the name of one the boats on the menu.
Afterwards, a famous DJ – a favorite of Karl Lagerfeld – Charles Schillings was mixing from the top of the cliff while the dance floor was in the sand and God it was crowded ! From the beach, we could see the masts moving from left to right at the mooring and no one really wanted to go back there to rest!
Wednesday was the most fantastic sailing day in the week and even in the history of the regatta. The departure line was in Porto Pollo and we had to reach Bonifacio in the evening. Usually that’s a distance we do in 7 hours. But this time, the Gods of wind were with us and we did it in 4 hours. The departure line was incredible as everyone was so close to each other, it was like a huge ballet and you could feel the tension.
Arriving in Bonifacio by boat is always a great moment. You’re surrounded by the white cliffs, usually it is very windy and then all of a sudden you get into this polite “Goulet”, like a long corridor where everything is calm (except the crazy Ferries coming in from Sardinia) and peaceful again. The harbour in Bonifacio is one of the best in the Mediterranean Sea and you’re in the heart of the city instantly.
That night we had a tasting on S/Y Oiseau de Feu with french Caviar House Boutary and owner, Charles de Saint-Vincent. On a mother-of-pearl spoon we tried 3 different kind of Caviar made in France, oui Monsieur! Between each caviar, you could try the Salt Water Sorbet created by one of the best ice cream chefs in the world, the Corsican Pierre Geronimi. I loved everyone’s funny faces discovering that taste, but it was so à-propos !
Thursday was a very short regatta from Bonifacio to Porto-Vecchio. In between, one of the most beautiful stops and spot in Corsica, we moored in front of The 5 Star Hotel Casadelmar. On the terraces, we had fruit cocktails and delicious Corsican specialties made by the one Star Michelin Chef, Fabio Bragagnolo.
The Corsican boat S/Y Eileen won the Real Time Award that day and got the Casadelmar Prize Gift, given by the sweet Tania Young, french TV anchor who is also the Godmother of the regatta. After that, we joined the Porto Vecchio Harbour where around 11 pm the film of the day was shown on the sails. It was very moving to see everyone very quiet (for once) enjoying that moment…
On Friday we left Porto Vecchio to join Santa Giulia, a very short trip, a perfect 28°C, 3 to 6 knots, but what a view. All the teams were breathless when they discovered the white sand beach and crystal clear water from the moorings. Everyone joined the beach for a cocktail and dinner was offered for all the crews. Two Corsican veals were roasting since the morning on the beach of the 4 Stars Moby Dick Hotel. The party was delightful. Ice-cream maker Pierre Geronimi once again offered us some surprising tastes with his salty & sweet ice creams as starters and desserts at the Ice Bar : Mustard, onion, sweet pepper, clementine, etc.
After the dinner, everyone was welcomed to join the Porto Vecchio Festival on the other end of the beach where some DJs and a whole village was ready to party all night – and some of us did ! Saturday was an excellent day of sailing from Santa Giulia back to Bonifacio, and Sunday, was very windy, so we all enjoyed playing around the Bonifacio Bouches before the final cocktail at the Sperone Golf Club above the Lavezzi Islands.
S/Y Lys won the Lacoste Fairplay Prize, a beautiful giant crystal Baccarat Crocodile. American Artist Carol Haas, now living in Calvi with her husband, the glass artist Dominique Campana, offered a beautiful glass Sailing Yacht to S/Y Dorade.
The 2014 Corsica Classic video can be viewed here.
Everyone left with incredible memories in their mind! We’re even thinking to create a special psychological support unit for everyone to deal better with their come-back to real life in stresstember! Register for next year’s Corisca Classic August 22-30, 2015, www.corsica-classic.com and follow all year long at @CorsicaClassic.
Katia Kulawick-Assante is a French journalist, well known in the luxury, lifestyle and menswear world. She’s the former deputy editor of Vogue Hommes International and former editor of Sport & Style, a french magazine she helped create and ran for the last decade. She currently serves as Director of Communications for Corsica Classic regatta, sponsored by the Yacht Club de France, and managing with her husband, Thibaud Assante, who created this event in 2010.