Marking time at the recently concluded Monaco Yacht Show were once again the hands of Richard Mille. One of the Maison’s many initiatives linked to the nautical world. (Here all our posts about Richard Mille)
Richard Mille Cup
Saloni aside, the last one, in order of time, was the Richard Mille Cup, an event packed with excitement and incident, offering something more than the conventional classic yacht regatta. The driving force behind the event is a desire to celebrate the art of sail – not just anywhere, but in the home of yachting, the stretch of sea separating the UK from France, a location that was also the setting for the first America’s Cup. The story is similar to that of the Le Mans Classic, the race reserved for cars evoking eras past, which Richard Mille has been involved in since 2012. This commitment is inspired by a desire to promote the values of motorsport on a circuit revered as a temple of motorcar racing. The link between Richard Mille and the sea can also be seen in other initiatives, from Les Voiles de St. Barth to the SP80 project and the Monaco Yacht Show, as we hear in this interview with Peter Harrison, CEO of Richard Mille for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, himself a great sail yachting enthusiast.
It all started with the Les Voiles de St. Barth. Then, as time went on, the sea became an increasingly strategic part of the brand’s vision, as we can see with the Richard Mille Cup. Is this true?
When it all began the main focus was on classic car racing, one of Richard Mille’s great passions. My preference, though, is for sail yachts. I became more and more interested in the sport and eventually I realised it could become a communication channel for the company. We like to think of ourselves as part of an event’s growth process. That’s what happened with the Les Mans Classic and the same is also true for the Les Voiles de St. Barth. This year’s event was the twelfth edition, and it’s become one of the most important Caribbean regattas. Now the Richard Mille Cup has arrived. The event is inspired by a desire to gather classic yachts in a more authentic setting, one that reflects their origins, as shown by the presence of the many Fife-built yachts that took part in the first edition.
From past to future – does the story of the SP80 project you’re involved in seek to show another side of sail yachting?
Absolutely. This initiative reflects the brand’s vision, focused on developing high-performance materials for our timepieces. These form the basis on which the brand has built its reputation. The SP80 is created with the aim of setting a new sail yacht speed record. The project began in Switzerland and reflects our vision, always seeking to overcome the limits.
Then there’s your choice in 2022 to work with the Monaco Yacht Show. What are the reasons behind this choice?
It’s an important showcase, featuring yachts that are considered to be as unique as Richard Mille watches. Then there are the many initiatives promoted by the Monaco Yacht Show, introducing the concept of sustainability.
Which of these is closest to your heart?
It has to be the Les Voiles de St. Barth. The mix of ingredients is unique. The time of year, the trade winds, an incomparable course and the large number of technically-savvy participants. Now there’s no lack of competitive yachts in the Maxi 72 class, or the TP 52s and the many race multihulls and sail maxi-yachts.
Talking of Richard Mille, what’s the secret behind the success you’ve achieved in just over 24 years?
It’s no coincidence that the top four watch brands – and we are one of them – are all independent. This is the most important factor in being competitive and efficient. It means that in contrast to the big groups we can take decisions more quickly, no matter what the context. Small but efficient. That’s the reason for our success.
Is sail yachting only about racing or is there also room for cruise sailing?
It’s only the racing element that appeals to me. It’s the only time I manage to switch off. When you’re at the helm during a race you can’t let yourself be distracted, you have to concentrate on everything, especially when there’s a strong technical element and your crew includes people from the America’s Cup or the Vendée Globe.
What’s your favourite Richard Mille watch?
That’s a tough question. Probably the RM 004. I think it took seven years from the original idea to the finished watch. It has perfect proportions. Yes, maybe the RM 004 is my favourite.