This weekend the Italian port village of Portofino welcomes some very special guests for the first-ever Portofino Rolex Trophy. Created by the Yacht Club Italiano and Rolex to honour some of the classic designs that make up part of the long history of sailing. The event is open by invitation only to a select list of wooden classes. The Portofino Rolex Trophy is an event intended to bring sailing history to life through both racing and on-shore exhibitions in a quintessentially maritime Italian location.

Regatta festivities officially began this evening with the Welcome Cocktail at the Caffè Excelsior in Portofino, where all participants were able to enjoy some fine hospitality at the start of this classic regatta weekend that has a full race and social programme.

Racing is set to begin tomorrow, Friday 8 May, at 11.00, following a 09.30 breakfast and weather briefing at the Yacht Club Italiano (YCI) Clubhouse. All racing will take place in the waters of the Marconi Gulf and nine races have been scheduled, with no more than three races per day. Racing will continue through Sunday 10 May when the final races and the prize-giving ceremony will take place. Along with regatta prizes and trophies, a Rolex Yacht-Master in Rolesium will be awarded to the winners of both the 8 and 12-Metre classes.

The confirmed entry list of the “barca d’epoca” for the Portofino Rolex Trophy 2009 currently includes the 12-Metres CINTRA, VARUNA, EMILIA and eight 8-Metres including MARGARET, BONA and VEGA among others. VARUNA and CINTRA will be celebrating their centenary year, as will ORION, the famous 129’ gaff schooner built by Camper & Nicholson, who will be in attendance as a non-racing Guest of Honour during the regatta.

Over the weekend, participants will be feted with a grand social program organized around the racing. On Saturday night, the social highlight of the weekend will be the Rolex Gala Dinner at La Cevara, formerly a historic abbey (Abbazia di San Girolamo) founded in 1396 in the hills between Portofino and Santa Margherita Ligure.

In addition to the display of classic yacht design on the water, there will also be an exhibition of historic wooden Olympic classes in the main square of Portofino. The boats on show date back as far as 1936 (Dragon) and the exhibition includes boats representing Star, Class A, Finn, Snipe, Flying Dutchman, Contender, Fireball, Flying Junior and 5.5M classes.

The Portofino Rolex Trophy is part of the Rolex Yachting Portfolio that includes over twenty world-class sailing events that take place around the world. Rolex is also the title sponsor of classic races such as the Rolex Sydney Hobart, the Rolex Middle Sea Race and the legendary Rolex Fastnet Race.