Racing With Maserati In Monaco By Fiona Sanderson
With boys’ toys very much at the epicentre of Monaco with luxury boats and all that goes with it, I was only too eager to say yes to a 24 hour getaway to celebrate the launch of the Maserati 2015 sailing season and to meet some of the crew – Captain Giovanni Soldini, Fiat boss John Elkan, and Prince Pierre Casiraghi the younger son of Caroline, Princess of Monaco. Quite a crew!
Whilst best known for its prowess on the track, the Italian automotive giant hasn’t restricted its love of racing to the road, as the brand is also very much set on racing across the sea. Maserati and its involvement in the world of sailing dates back to the 1930s. In 2012, the relationship between Maserati and Giovanni Soldini began, when the revered Italian yachtsman, who was already a solo round-the-world winner, skippered the 70 foot Maserati yacht to set the time reference for the “monohull” category in the Cadice-San Salvador run, covering the distance in 10 days, 23 hours, 9 minutes and 2 seconds.
In early 2014, Soldini and the Maserati crew were first across the finishing line in the 14th edition of the Cape2Rio race, covering the 3,300 miles that separate Cape Town and Rio de Janeiro in 10 days, 11 hours, 29 minutes and 57 seconds. Soldini and the rest of his crew, including helmsman Pierre Casiraghi of Monaco, set a new regatta record. Maserati’s links with Monaco were further established in June 2014, when they announced a partnership with the Yacht Club de Monaco. Set in the fabulous location of Monaco Marina, the two brands share a strong passion for premium excellence and high performance both on land and sea. I was invited to the Yacht Club de Monaco for a press conference with Soldini and Casiraghi, to hear more about Maserati’s exciting 2015 sports programme. This also meant I got the opportunity to board the Maserati yacht in the marina, where I could only marvel at this truly beautiful machine.
Soldini, it turned out, was already looking ahead to his crew’s next challenge, and that came in the form of the Trade Clipper Trade Route – a 7000 mile stretch between San Francisco and Shanghai. The team completed the route in just 21 days, 19 hours, 32 minutes and 54 seconds, with Soldini hopeful that the new time “will be difficult to beat.”
Soldini confirmed that “as always, Maserati proved what an excellent craft she is and the crew made an efficient and very tight-knit team. 21 days from San Francisco to Shanghai is a very impressive time and we will be requesting certification from the World Sailing Speed Record Council. Conditions were good almost the entire way and the first part of the route was very fast – it took us only six days to reach Hawaii. Then we had a good old gallop through the Trade Winds. The final section, as we neared China, was the trickiest as winds were light, but we were expecting that.” The Maserati’s next event is in Australia where, in late December, she’ll take part in the Rolex Sydney-Hobart Yacht Race, one of the world’s most famous and challenging regattas. Good luck to all the team!
From the high seas to high teas, as I was invited along to watch the Maserati Jerudong Park Polo Trophy contested at Cirencester Park Polo Club. Playing in the match on the iconic Ivy Lodge ground was a very special guest, HRH Prince Harry, who was playing in the BMG Team against the opposing Maserati Team. In the end, it was the Maserati Team that secured a well-contested victory, with a final score of 8-7. Commiserations to Team BMG, although it wasn’t all disappointment as Prince Harry was named “Most Valuable Player.” Peter Denton, Region Manager Maserati North Europe, presented the winning team with the trophy alongside the club’s chairman, Kuldip Dhillon. Speaking about the event, Denton said “Maserati was proud to be at Cirencester Park Polo Club for such a momentous match on the British social calendar. Polo is about passion, performance, glamour and style – values which we share at Maserati.”
Maserati also showcased an array of its ultra-luxurious vehicles at Cirencester, including the flagship Quattroporte models. I was lucky enough to test drive one of these fabulous machines over the weekend, and was amazed by how smooth it was to drive and how easily it handled. Maserati might be more famous for building sports cars, but with a strong heritage in luxurious saloon cars too, the current Maserati Quattroporte is a good-looking car. Its striking looks don’t end with the exterior styling – the interior is just as extrovert, making this one extremely desirable car. The Quattroporte is a really great car, especially on the twisting roads between the Chilterns and Cirencester.
The Quattroporte is pretty luxurious, with real Italian flair and understated elegance. High-quality leather, wood and metal is the order of the day and the seats were very well shaped and cushioned. The car’s sporty inclinations mean the suspension is firmer than you get with the more traditional executive cars like the Mercedes S-Class, and I found it really very comfortable on this long drive. My other half sat in the back (he likes women chauffeurs) and the extra 107mm in between the front and rear wheels compared to the old model has greatly boosted the amount of space available to rear passengers. The car felt light on its feet through tight and twisty roads – and that is seriously impressive considering this car is not small. I was very impressed and could be a convert if my arm was twisted!