Corfu Challenge Reawakens The Ancient Spirit Of Sailing

George Sakellaris with trophy after being declared overall winner of 2016 RORC (Royal Ocean Race Club) Caribbean 600 on February 25, 2016, skippering his Maxi72, Proteus (USA) yacht.

This summer, the usually quiet waters of the Ionian Sea will once again roil with ancient energy—a dauntless fleet of sailing ships racing toward the shores of Corfu. The vision straight from the pages of Apollonius, it could easily be Jason and his Argonauts outracing the Colchian fleet in their famous arrival at the island. The name of Jason’s ship, Argo, means “swift,” and these vessels are all worthy of the name. They are the world’s top, state-of-the-art Maxi 72 class racing yachts, each crewed by a team of modern-day Argonauts vying for victory in the inaugural Corfu Challenge, July 3-8, 2017.

The concept of the race was inspired by a group of Maxi owners searching for a way to bring new challenges to the sport—new experiences that would at the same time reconnect sailing to its oldest historical roots. The key was finding the right location—one that would deliver an experience of new waters, good winds, new challenges, and a new discovery of sailing’s ancient mythology. “What about Corfu?” suggested owner George Sakellaris, a member of Leadership 100.  Corfu’s very scenic setting presents a new adventure for sailing.  Its high mountains with Mount Pantokrator present unpredictable and challenging wind patterns. Corfu would be the ideal setting.  Evoking a modern renaissance of sailing’s oldest Hellenic traditions, the Corfu Challenge has generated great enthusiasm throughout the competitive sailing community and has been included in the 2017 Maxi 72 Overall Trophy. Early Corfu Challenge entries by the world’s top Maxi 72 boats include Hap Fauth’s Bella Mente, Dieter Schön’s Momo, and George Sakellaris’ Proteus.

The 2017 Corfu Challenge is being organized by the Marina Gouvia Sailing Club, with the cooperation of the International Maxi Association (IMA) and the Maxi 72 Class. The event is open to all boats with a valid 2017 Maxi 72 Certificate, as well as boats with a valid endorsed 2017 IRC Certificate and a Maxi 72 Class confirmed Wild Card invitation.

As an officially sanctioned event, the Corfu Challenge will not only inspire the sport to explore its historical grounding in the ancient Hellenic spirit and traditions of sailing; it will, at the same time, help to bring Greece into the future as a key new host of top class yacht racing..

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