by Matteo Salamon
The first S&S Swan Rendez-vous took place in Porto Azzurro, Elba, from the 29th -30th August 2003. For the first time ever 22 magnificent Swans, all designed by Sparkman & Stephens Inc. and built by the Finnish boatyard Nautor, which is universally considered to be among the finest in the world, gathered together in the waters of Elba.
The initial scope of this Rendez-vous was to arrange a friendly gathering of Swan owners and their crews. Despite the fact that the event was organised by amateur enthusiasts, the organisational machine was perfect, even managing perfect weather on the given day during a week marked by storm, squalls and the unsettled weather typical of the Mediterranean in late August.
22 boats signed up for the Rendez-vous and 17 took part in a race of 20 miles which saw a fleet of Swans setting out from the beautiful Porto Azzurro bay and beating out towards Cerboli island. They rounded the island re-entering Porto Azzurro bay later in the afternoon.
In the mean-time, those who had not taken part in the Regatta had the opportunity to attend several alternative programmes which were organised courtesy of the Porto Azzurro Mayor, amongst which a special visit to the ancient and famous fortress prison located nearby.
The sight of so many classic Swans, moored to a single jetty and streaming large white Swan Nautor flags from their rigging in the stiff breeze, was quite a spectacle. While out sailing in the bay, the sight of so many Swans criss-crossing and tacking was simply word defying. One has to imagine the best of Naval architecture from the 1960s and 70s from the finest boatyard of its period in the world concentrated in one place. The result was simply electrifying.
There were many famous personalities on the quayside. From Dr. Leonardo Ferragamo, the current owner of the Swan Nautor Yard, who not only was the patron of this Rendez-vous but also had presented a challenge cup for the best maintained Swan (this cup was won by the Swan 65, Nashira). Dr. Ferragamo was present throughout this event and had occasion to greet Vincenzo Onorato, the happy owner of one of the last Swan 65s to be built, Mascalzone Latino XIV.
Before the closure of this event and prior to the announcement of the next S&S Swan Rendez-vous due to take place in Porto Azzurro on the 18th, 19th and 20th August 2005, all the participants (roughly 300 people in all) took part in a festive buffet dinner which took place on the Pianotta quayside overlooking the gulf of Porto Azzurro in order to taste the famous Tuscan dish, Panzanella and to listen to the sweet melodies of a Brazilian band.