Rolex Giraglia: Inshore race series commences
11 June 2018
a destination characterised by the alluring light, unique charm and
vibrant colours which has attracted artists throughout the last
century, is each year in mid-June, home to one of the
Mediterranean’s largest and most impressive sailing events. The
Rolex Giraglia is in rare company as a competition capable of
attracting a fleet in the region of 250 international yachts year
First held in 1953, and this year celebrating its 20-year partnership with Rolex, the Rolex Giraglia offers three diverse stages. Saturday morning witnessed a fleet of 72 yachts conclude the arrival race from Sanremo. Today heralded the start of the three-day inshore series in Saint-Tropez, with the week’s main event the 241-nm offshore race to Genoa, Italy commencing on Wednesday.
THE FIRST ACTS
Fastest on the water during the relatively short offshore race from Sanremo – and one this year defined by consistent, testing breezes – was Davide Zannoni’s 83-ft Maxi Vera who completed the 60-nm course in seven hours, 45 minutes. Rossko in IRC and Hebe V in ORC claimed the handicap prizes. Today’s inshore programme pitted the Maxi classes, Swan One Design and Wally Centos on windward/leeward races in front of Pampelonne beach, with the majority of the fleet tackling coastal courses of varying lengths. An 8-9 knot breeze prevailed for the race starts before building gradually up to 12 knots throughout the afternoon.
The race winners on Day 1: IRC 0 – Cannonball (ITA); IRC A – Freccia Rossa (ITA); IRC B – Il Pingone di Mare (ITA); ORC 0 – Phoenix (RUS); ORC A – Paola 3 (ITA), ORC B – Controcorrente (ITA); Swan 45 – Porron IX (ESP); ClubSwan 50 – Cuordileone (ITA); Wally – Galateia (ITA). Full results from the 2018 Rolex Giraglia can be found here.
A FORMIDABLE FLEET
The fleet at the 2018 Rolex Giraglia is eclectic, comprising an impressive range of yacht design and heritage. In terms of size, elegance and power, the eye-catching acts include the event’s largest yachts – the Swan 115 Solleone, Wally Centos Magic Carpet Cubed, Galateia and Tango as well as Leopard 3, the 100-ft Maxi of Rolex Fastnet fame.
Six Maxi 72s should provide close boat-on-boat racing during the inshore series and, as recent history testifies, fascinating tactical duels in the offshore race. Line honours at last year’s race was decided by a matter of minutes between eventual winner Momo and runner-up Caol Ila R, two yachts which feature amongst this year’s fleet. Competition should be equally engaging among the impressive contingent of Wally yachts and ClubSwan 50s.
Relatively new to the Maxi72 Class, Lucky’s American owner Bryon Ehrhart is looking forward to the challenge of the week’s racing having twice competed at the event. “The Giraglia is always a lot of fun for us. We have done it in our 52-ft and 63-ft boats. Now with the 72 we are still getting up to speed. Our only expectations are to make progress.” The Lucky crew comprises sailors who have been with Ehrhart from his days in the Etchells Class, young Americans making their way in the sport and sailors who possess extensive knowledge of the boat having been part of the crew when she was Hap Fauth’s multi-world champion Bella Mente.
Of the 241 yachts currently registered for the week’s racing are in excess of one hundred entrants measuring under 40-ft. These yachts are primarily sailed by Corinthian crew for whom preparation for an event of this magnitude is a significant commitment, one born of a passion for the sport and a desire to be part of a week-long competition renowned for its exciting sailing programme and overriding spirit of camaraderie.
An international flavour is provided by yachts from over 25 countries. Russia is well represented with 16 entrants including Igor Rytov’s Bogatyr, winner of the 2017 Rolex Middle Sea Race. A Russian owner is also the defending race champion – Vadim Yakimenko triumphed in 2017 with his Italian-flagged TP52 Freccia Rossa. An element of history is provided by Nita, a 1976 custom Germán Frers Snr design, which won a punishing edition of the race a year after her launch before becoming a dominant force at the Rolex Middle Sea Race in the late 1970s.
“Now marking its 66th edition, the Rolex Giraglia represents a cardinal point in the offshore Mediterranean sailing season,” explains Nicolò Reggio, President of the Yacht Club Italiano. “I sailed my first Giraglia in 1970 and was lucky enough to race on the yacht which arrived first in real time. Now in my second year at the helm of the Yacht Club Italiano it is with great satisfaction that I reflect on the evolution of this regatta, thanks to our historical partners and the thousands of sailors who with their enthusiasm constitute the real success of this event.”
The inshore series continues tomorrow and concludes on Tuesday 12 June. The offshore race starts the following day, Wednesday 13 June. The Rolex Giraglia is organised by the Yacht Club Italiano (YCI) and the Société Nautique de Saint-Tropez.