Tuesday, 25 July 2017 13:40

Rewards of Excellence when brands with history collaborate

For a journalist or a media person to pick up straight from the press release and print it as it is, is considered a shame and we try and rewrite or rehash or 'pad it up' with required quotes, but I admit I haven't changed a word here. I don’t want to, I won't be able to add anything to it to 'add' to it I feel. That's just my perception for this story and I am sharing it the way I would share on social media platforms.  The story reads so good. So what if it comes from the involved brands perspective. It's a story from the yachting world, of brands creating brands, of giant brands coming together to create another brand, of a passion to achieve,  of excellent teamwork, of just seeing your name there in the history of the brands,  and yes there is no money involved. Read on.  

There is no prize money for the winners of most yacht-racing events. Sailors compete for relatively humble reasons – whether it be passion for the sport of sailing, the camaraderie that comes from teamwork, or the opportunity to pit oneself against the challenges presented by the wind, weather and sea. For those who win there is the prospect of recognition from their peers, featuring in the event annals and receiving a well-deserved trophy, often one with many years of history and an allure beyond its physical value. At an event partnered by Rolex, the reward for excellence is even more distinct.

Two of the most revered events in the Rolex yachting portfolio are the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race and the Rolex Fastnet Race. Both are 600 mile offshore races with fearsome reputations. The simple act of participation itself can be regarded as a triumph; winning outright, the fulfilment of a lifetime dream.

The Rolex Sydney Hobart, organized by the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia (CYCA) every year, and the Rolex Fastnet, run biennially by the Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC), are at the forefront of the world’s leading offshore races. Rolex has been Title Sponsor of both events since the early 2000s; the organizing clubs are leaders in their fields and are long-term Rolex partners. Fiercely demanding and frequently subject to extreme conditions, these two races are considered icons of the yacht racing world. Both attract large and varied fleets, bringing together professional sailing talent and Corinthian amateurs, all of whom share a commitment to the challenge.


On the prize giving table, at the end of these races, lying prominently among the numerous historic trophies is a green presentation box containing a Rolex Oyster Perpetual timepiece. Engraved on the back is the race name, the year and the words “Overall Winner”. A simple addition to the awards at these classic races, this particular prize has attained legendary notoriety in the sailing world and beyond. The reason is straight-forward according to John Markos, Commodore of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, “The engraving on the back means everything. It stamps the timepiece with a unique feature that cannot be purchased. While a trophy like the Tattersall’s Cup is awarded each year, the Rolex watch is personal, owned and carried by the winner. It’s become a recognized symbol of success and achievement.”

Another secret to the symbolic status lies in each timepiece awarded providing a lasting memento of an individual story of endeavour and triumph. For Andrew Saies, winning the 2009 Rolex Sydney Hobart with Two True was a life ambition. “I’ve been dreaming of winning this since I was 12 years old,” he explained. “It is an iconic yacht race and every yachtie wants to win it. I feel proud to have achieved this once in a lifetime goal.”

Years later the pleasure has not dwindled. Competing at the 2016 event, Saies points to the watch he won and the engraving as a continuing source of pride and inspiration: “I wear it mostly to yachting events, but also to non-yachting occasions where I know there will be people interested in the race. People love to ask me the time just to see it. The engraving on the back makes it special – Rolex Sydney Hobart Overall Winner 2009 - you can’t buy that.” Paul Clitheroe, winner of the race in 2015, confirms the sentiments the timepiece confers and the interest it attracts: “There is a big piece of silverware for this event, but the watch is something I can wear. I’m often asked to take it off just to see the engraving on the back. It is unique.”


The significance given to the Rolex timepiece awarded at a race like the Rolex Sydney Hobart has not occurred by chance. It has accrued over many years and results from Rolex’s respectful and longstanding partnership with yachting.

John Markos again, “The depth and longevity of Rolex’s involvement is fundamental to the success of many sporting and cultural events. It’s no different for the Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, Rolex’s support is well-recognised around the world.”

Rolex’s direct involvement in yachting stretches back to the 1950s, but from the brand’s earliest days there has been a natural affinity with the sea. Hans Wilsdorf laid foundations in the 1920s when he developed the cornerstone of the company’s success, the world’s first waterproof wristwatch, the Rolex Oyster. It became the wristwatch that defied the elements, an essential feature for those engaged in exploration or sports. Sir Francis Chichester wore one on his ground-breaking solo-navigation of the globe from 1966-67.

Over the years, Rolex has accompanied many of humanity’s greatest feats as men and women have broken long-standing records, defied the elements and explored the globe’s most forbidding frontiers. Rolex has supported individual excellence and the quest for perfection since its foundation early in the 20th century.

The Rolex Fastnet was first held in 1925. Rolex became its only ever Title Sponsor in 2001. For Eddie Warden Owen, CEO of the Royal Ocean Racing Club, the move to add a sponsor was carefully considered; the fit had to be perfect: “The essence of this successful relationship is a mutual and timeless pursuit of perfection. To win the Fastnet Challenge Cup demands extreme attention to detail, superb teamwork and continual concentration and drive. These are values important to the club, Rolex and the competitors.”

Warden Owen is an impressive yachtsman in his own right, with a 35-year career in the international sailing arena, including many of the classic 600-mile offshore races, as well as the America’s Cup. He knows what it takes to win and, importantly,

what the rewards mean to the individual winners: “The engraved Rolex timepiece awarded to the winner of the Rolex Fastnet will forever remain a joyous reminder of the hard work and dedication that went in to winning the race. It is as if the Rolex prize means something more than winning itself; it’s a symbol of status in the sailing world, of achievement, of success. It is a powerful reward.”


The annual Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup held in Porto Cervo, Sardinia and organized by another longstanding partner of Rolex – the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda – is a more glamorous affair than offshore racing, though no less competitive. Held at an incomparable venue, featuring the largest, most powerful monohull yachts, it attracts the cream of the sailing world. Winning here is not just a question of having the newest, biggest or fastest yacht. Like all sport, it is the result of considerable preparation and perseverance.

Edoardo Recchi the Sporting Director of the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda recently remarked about the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup that: “It has always been considered the Maxi yacht world championship. When you win this, it’s a pedigree for the boat. Like winning in Formula One, it’s a milestone.”

American yachtsman and businessman Hap Fauth is a lifelong sailor, and for the past ten years has been racing in the Maxi 72 class, one of the most demanding and competitive on the international circuit and which holds its world championship during the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup. He takes huge pleasure from having developed three distinct campaigns, all named Bella Mente Racing, during this period: “There is so much that goes into building a successful team and yacht”. His efforts have not gone unrewarded, winning in Porto Cervo on three occasions in 2012, 2015 and 2016. Although Fauth deems his most recent triumph to have been the most satisfying, the Rolex he wears is from his first win in 2012. “It is a symbol of excellence in the sailing world. There is no question it demonstrates you are at the top of your game,” he says.

Fauth’s tactician is Terry Hutchinson a highly regarded professional, competing at the top for some 30 years. An America’s Cup winner, he has also won twelve world championship titles – seven at events sponsored by Rolex. “The sport of sailing is fortunate to have Rolex associated with it. Everything it does, from shore side activities to the racing always seems to be a little bit better. Taking home one of its watches at the end of an event makes for a much sweeter win. Every time you check that watch it is a great reminder of the amount of hard work and sweat that went into winning.”


US yachtsman Paul Cayard is one of the most accomplished sailors on the international circuit, having competed successfully at the top level for more than 30 years. A talented yachtsman, he is a seven-time world champion, has taken part in the America’s Cup seven times and twice in the Olympic Games, and won major offshore races. A member of the Rolex family of Testimonees, he has this to say: “Rolex is one of the most respected sponsors in the sport and has been for many years. The reputation of its timepieces is matched by its reputation for

providing valued patronage and as a true partner to the clubs and competitions it supports. Awarding watches to the winners of events in its portfolio has created an aura around the regattas and races concerned.”

This apparent aura has built over the many years of involvement and stems not simply from the watches awarded. The clear respect with which Rolex is held as a sponsor in the sport of sailing is significant too. It is consistent and faithful in its support of events that represent the highest standards of sportsmanship, demand the highest levels of skill, commitment and preparation. It partners the yacht clubs which cherish the pursuit of perfection. And, in rewarding the winners of the regattas and races it sponsors with one of its timepieces, it provides those who have excelled a lasting symbol of their achievement.

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