Almost two years after the foundation of VCYC and, at the doors of the 1st Mediterranean Champions Cup, which this year takes place in Imperia, Antibes and Cannes, we have decided to interview our president and co-founder, Jonathan Greenwood, to share his thoughts in this new adventure and give us a better understanding of the work VCYC is actually doing these days.
So, tell us Jonathan, you have been in the classic yacht industry for over 25 years now, what has changed over all this time?
Me, I got a hell of a lot older!
To be honest, not a great deal has changed over the years. I remember well regattas back in the early nineties that were incredibly well attended in all classes but especially the big yachts, such as Astra, Candida, Thendara and almost all of the schooners were racing in large numbers. Perhaps that is the biggest change in recent years, that there are not so many big yachts still racing. The other change would be the increase in the amount of smaller yachts that have been found in bad shape and lovingly restored and brought to the start line once more.
Where was the vintage yacht racing industry just before VCYC?
After the end of the 2018 season, Panerai, who had sponsored so magnificently classic yacht racing all over the world, decided to stop. This was a great loss in my opinion and one that was immediately felt during the 2019 season. There was a marked downturn in attendance generally and yachts tended to travel less and less to foreign events. We felt that this trend may continue and we decided to try to do something about it.
What was the trigger to set up a new club?
The trigger was the loss of an international series or championship if you prefer, which in my opinion promotes the good health classic yachting generally. Almost all sports have this kind of championship in their annual calendar and we felt that we needed to try to get it back. We figured that if the yacht owners came together under one structure then they could decide themselves when and where they wanted to race and control their own championship without having to wait for a title sponsor to appear.
Good question! It’s not easy to dream up a name for a new business, shop or event etc and we toyed with many different options but it seemed that the name should reflect what the club is about so we kept it simple. I think VCYC rolls of the tongue rather nicely!
What are the objectives and goals of VCYC?
The goal of VCYC is to give a voice to our members, connect likeminded people, promote the preservation of the international maritime heritage and maintain or increase the number of yachts actively racing all over the Mediterranean.
The immediate objective is to run our first series and reward the winners at the end of the season. To do this, we encourage all the yachts to sign up.
How does VCYC work? Who can become a member?
The VCYC is a non-profit organization founded in France and is run by a board of directors who are elected each year. All proceeds are re-injected into the club to help the club achieve the objectives the board has set in place. It’s as simple as that. At the moment, we rely heavily on the goodwill and generosity of a few talented people to get the club of the ground and I sincerely hope that the club will be able to reward those who contribute their time and efforts in the future.
The VCYC is primarily aimed at classic yacht owners, however, we have a membership plan for sailors who want to be involved but who don’t own a yacht. We are setting up a Crew database so our owner-members may find crew and that crew may find a yacht to race on. It’s all about connecting the sailors.
So yacht owners and non-owners can both become part of VCYC… That’s a brilliant idea! How can I become a member and what are the benefits?
To become a member is simple. Just go to the website, select the correct membership plan and sign up online. It couldn’t be easier!
The benefits for an owner member are that he or she is automatically entered in The Mediterranean Champions Cup series and will be scored throughout the season at the selected events, he or she will have the right to vote in all the polls that will be published during the year concerning such things as which events should make up the championship next season or a question put to the club by a member that requires an answer from everyone. Owner members will have access to the crew database through the private members’ area and we are also developing a panel of experts to answer technical questions or give advice when asked for.
What are VCYC plans for the next 2 years? And in the long run?
The plan is to increase the membership over the next couple of years and if Covid will allow us, increase the number of events in the series. We would be delighted to attract a title sponsor too as that would really help with promoting the championship and bring added prestige to the event.
As to the long run, we can’t really project that far but I would hope that the VCYC grows into something important in the world of classic yachting.
Tell us about The Mediterranean Champions Cup, (or its abbreviation MCC). You mention it is a cup for yacht owners by yacht owners. How does it work? What are the future plans?
The MCC is a series to find the top yachts in the various classes each season. We will award a perpetual trophy to the winner of each class and the yachts name and year of the victory will be engraved on it. The racing will take place in three different venues this year and a total of 12 races could, weather permitting, take place. Two discards will be allowed and the final results will decide the winner of the series in each class.
Who decides where to race?
We would like to promote close racing and increase attendance at the events with this series and what better way to do this than to have the members themselves vote on where they want to race. For this first edition, the board has chosen the events as we had to start somehow and unfortunately one event has been cancelled. However, next season the series will be put to a vote and then it will truly become a cup for yacht owners by yacht owners as you put it.
What impact are you expecting from VCYC and the MedCup in the world?
To be perfectly honest, I’m not expecting anything! I have learnt over the years that it is better to have hopes than expectations and I would hope that the VCYC might help others around the world to form similar organisations to save, maintain and sail these wonderful yachts and provide competitive events for the owners and sailors who love them so much.
Where do you see VCYC in 10 years?
In my dreams, I see a beautiful VCYC Clubhouse with a marina filled with lovely old yachts, sailors busily varnishing and preparing for the next event. Owners drinking cocktails together on the balcony discussing the tactics of the previous regatta.
Really, I can’t answer that one but I can dream!
Thanks Jono for your time, all the best growing this beautiful project and we hope to seeing you in Imperia.