Maxi Class to Contest North American Title During 2024 ORC World Championship

Maxi Class to Contest North American Title During 2024 ORC World Championship
Maxi yachts racing at the Maxi Yachts Rolex Cup in Porto Cervo, ITA © Carlo Borlenghi / YCCS

29 February 2024 - Newport, RI, USA - The 2024 ORC World Championship will bring top sailing teams from around the globe to battle on Rhode Island Sound and Narragansett Bay for one of four coveted world titles. It is the first time in over two decades this regatta is back in North America and will be held out of the New York Yacht Club Harbour Court facility from September 27 to October 5, 2024.

Now, the event has added an important new class: Maxi yachts that are larger and faster than those competing in the Worlds and fighting for their own Maxi North American Championship title using ORC scoring.

The New York Yacht Club Harbour Court
The New York Yacht Club Harbour Court

Soaked into the floorboards of the saltier watering holes in Newport, R.I., are stories from the 1980s and 1990s when the globe-trotting Maxi class would regularly call into this quaint New England port to contest a major championship. Bend an ear into a swampy southwesterly seabreeze, the grey beards will say, and you can still hear echoes of wire sheets and overtaxed aluminum rigs straining to hold back spinnakers the size of circus tents.

Judel/Vrolijk 66-foot TEMPTATION OACKCLIFF SAILING - courtesy of Art Santry
Judel/Vrolijk 66-foot TEMPTATION OACKCLIFF SAILING - courtesy of Art Santry
“The last Maxi worlds I did was in 1987,” says Art Santry. “I skipped my business school graduation and sailed on Cannonball. Back then you had eight of them, the crews were big, and it was a lot of fun. Late summer was a great time of year to do it because the town was a little quieter and you could take over Thames Street. Watching those boats go through the water, it was unbelievable. When you were on one and crossing tacks, it was like ‘Whoa, don’t get too close.’”

While an octet of 80-footers is unlikely to once again furrow the waters off Newport, Santry is expecting at least a handful of 60- to 80-footers to join his Judel/Vrolijk 66-foot TEMPTATION OACKCLIFF SAILING. The Maxis will be contesting a North American title, unlike the world crown on offer for the four other classes, and will sail buoy and coastal races, eschewing the opening overnight contest. But the majesty of these yachts—now imbued with remarkable performance in all wind conditions—will make this new group the belle of the ball.

“You’re going upwind at 11.8 knots and downwind at 20-plus,” says Santry. “It’s outrageous. You can’t believe how fast these things go. Our boat has twice the sail area and little bit less displacement than the Frers 57 my family built 40 years ago. And she was a fast boat at the time. It’s pretty spectacular.”

Maxis in Porto Cervo
Maxis in Porto Cervo, YCCS, ITA © Studio Borlenghi

The Yacht Club Costa Smeralda in Sardinia, Italy, hosts an annual world championship for the Maxi class and has become the place where sailing’s biggest and most advanced craft go to test their mettle. But there are large boats in many other parts of the world and the inclusion of a Maxi class in the first ORC World Championship in the United States in nearly a quarter century fits right into the class’ efforts to broaden its base.

“It is good to see a new stimulus for Maxi competition in North America, once the home of many classic maxis,” says Andrew McIrvine, Secretary General for the International Maxi Class Association. “More recently, there have been strong and growing fleets in Europe, and some in Australia.”

Likewise, the Offshore Racing Congress, which has traditionally capped the ORC Worlds at boats just over 50 feet, is excited to see these ocean thoroughbreds competing alongside the smaller, but more popular, classes that will make up the bulk of the 60 to 80 entries expected for the 2024 edition.

“We’re excited that the worlds event will also have this new Maxi class,” said Bruno Finzi, Chairman of ORC. “We are ready to help showcase use of our system of rating and scoring tools to help create fair racing among these exceptional yachts."
74-foot FOGGY, co-skippered by New York Yacht Club Commodore Jay Cross and Richard Cohen
74-foot FOGGY, co-skippered by New York Yacht Club Commodore Jay Cross and Richard Cohen © Jay Cross

In addition to TEMPTATION OAKCLIFF SAILING, the 74-foot FOGGY, co-skippered by New York Yacht Club Commodore Jay Cross and Richard Cohen, has confirmed it will enter the Maxi class. FOGGY was drawn by the legendary yacht designer Germán Frers, with stylistic input from architect Frank Gehry. It’s a work of art as much as it is a race boat. But the beautiful wood exterior obscures a carbon core that makes it something of a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

“We believe a world big-boat championship is always more fun with the Maxis,” says Cross. “We are looking forward to hosting North America's maxis in Newport this fall."

Measurement for the 2024 ORC Worlds will start on Friday, September 27. The first race, an overnight race of roughly 36 hours in duration will kick off the competition on Monday, September 30. The remainder of the regatta will include three days of buoy racing and one day of coastal point-to-point racing. The Maxis will not compete in the overnight race, sailing coastal or buoy races on the opening two days.

Since 1969, the Offshore Racing Congress has been a world leader in providing a scientific and transparent rating system used to create fair racing among a broad variety of boat types, from sportboats to superyachts. Since 1999, ORC has organized the annual ORC World Championships and other inshore and offshore racing events sanctioned by World Sailing, with recent events attracting over 100 entries from dozens of countries around the world.

The 2024 ORC World Championship will be held in Newport, R.I., and hosted by the New York Yacht Club. Registration and measurement starts on September 27, with racing kicking off on Monday, September 30, and finishing on Saturday, October 5.