Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge – sun, wind in the sails and the graceful silhouettes of venerable ladies sprightly riding the waves of the Mediterranean. Sometimes, it is so good to be a journalist…

I was not in my best shape when I arrived in Cannes this year, to take part in one of the most beautiful events in the watchmaking world: Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge. Tarom managed to lose my luggage on a direct flight, sending it to Paris instead of Nice, in the name of a certain Mr. Michon. An absurd melodrama followed, which was threatening to deprive me of my joy of seeing some of the most beautiful boats sailing on the blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea.

Fortunately, you cannot really stay mad while you are in Cannes. Flowers, sun, French women in their 80s who never forget their pearls, diamond earrings and elegant shopping bags, the beautiful promenade where you can feel happy even if you are just looking at the shop windows, the constant murmur in the old town district and the shops selling over 100 types of cheese – each one smellier than the next. All this boosted my spirits and helped me see the bright side, even if my elegant and stylish sailor’s outfit was somewhere in Charles de Gaulle, while I was crying over it in Cannes.

After a delicious dinner at Table 22 and after enjoying a walk, people watching and brand guessing in Cannes, I started feeling better. I went shopping, replaced what I could, and, more or less equipped, I got onto the motorboat skillfully driven by Sebastien, who was our guide for the regatta.

I couldn’t claim I am an expert and perfectly familiar with the rules of navigation, but I do know there aren’t many shows as beautiful as the one in which perfectly restored centuries-old sailing boats are happily competing against one another under the Mediterranean sun.

Under the supervision of Angelo Bonati, the CEO of Officine Panerai, Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge has become one of the most important and most anticipated sailing events of the season, and the race that is part of the Regates Royales de Cannes (an event organized since 1863) is a real joy. Under the warm September sun, sailors, enthusiasts, journalists, spectators and sponsors – all come together on the Croisette to compete or just watch the show of the regatta.

Eilean is the already legendary boat competing on behalf of Panerai, having been perfectly restored by the brand. But all the boats are gorgeous, with the erstwhile brilliance of the precious wood on their decks, their silhouettes so slender that they are propelled only by the wind blowing in their sails.

All these boats competed in the Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge, an event where the trophy is, obviously, important, but what is even more important is the joy of a great sport and the happiness of sailing on the blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea, in a windy, exciting, yet relaxing race, together with the best coordinated and most experienced crews. The winners of the three trophies are Hallowe’en (Big Boats category), Linet (Vintage Yachts) and Ganbare (Classic Yachts). In my opinion, though, we are all winners, all those who had the privilege to attend such an elegant and fair competition.

As far as I’m concerned, I eventually managed to recover my luggage (yes, I had to go from Cannes to Nice and back to pick it up myself – Tarom does not deliver to the hotel, and their representative at Nice airport is nowhere to be found, as the ladies from the neighbouring offices confirmed), I enjoyed seeing Mr. Bonati and all my friends at Panerai again, I bought some extremely smelly cheese, and I realized life is beautiful.

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