Gearing up for Giraglia

Near record numbers for next week's inshore/offshore series along the Cote d'Azur

Monday June 7th 2010, Author: Giles Pearman, Location: France

The 58th running of the Giraglia Rolex Cup set to start with an inshore series this Sunday (13 June). This year's event has 233 yachts registered from 16 nations.

The format remains much the same - three days of inshore racing off St Tropez followed by a 245 nautical mile race. However this year the 182 boats competing in the offshore race set off from St Tropez to round the Giraglia rock off northern Corsica and will finish in San Remo, not Genoa. San Remo is just over the border into Italy, 60 nautical miles up the coast from St Tropez as the crow flies.

182 boats in the offshore race is just short of the all time record of 197 set in 2006 when, coincidentally, one of the smallest yachts in the fleet at 33ft/10.15m, Ala Bianca (ITA), won overall. Owner Camillo Capozzi is back again this year and may view the prospect of a record entry as a good omen for a second such extraordinary performance.

The largest yacht in the competition is set to be the Swan 112 Highland Breeze, which is closely followed in the glamour stakes by the Swan 90 Solleone (ITA) and the CNB 86, Spiip (FRA), which was launched in October last year.

Fastest in the fleet is certainly the 100ft super maxi - Esimit Europa 2 (EUR). Skippered by America’s Cup helm and eight-time world champion Flavio Favini and owned by Igor Simcic, the former Alfa Romeo II is the course record holder for the offshore component of the Giraglia Rolex Cup. Favini and Simcic aim to follow in the footsteps of previous owner/skipper Neville Crichton who racked up and impressive record of line honours victories with the Reichel-Pugh designed rocketship.

Crichton is back this year with his latest iteration in the Alfa Romeo stable. At 70ft Alfa Romeo III is a Mini Maxi and already has an enviable record having won her class at the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup last September. Her interior design is styled after the Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione motorcar, in red, silver/grey, black and white, with a companionway ladder, which resembles the car's grill. She is not the only hot property on the track in this class. Alegre (GBR), owned by Andres Soriano, also has an exceptional record. She has won line honours and overall at the Rolex Middle Sea Race, and, recently took the Mini Maxi title at Rolex Capri Sailing Week. The Mini Maxi competition will once again be some of the most interesting with Udo Schutz’s STP 65 Container (GER), Sir Peter Ogden’ all-black Jethou (GBR) and Brian Benjamin’s Aegir (GBR) in the line-up.

Competition amongst the 50 footers looks just as intense as at the front. Sam Chan has brought his TP52 Free Fire all the way from Hong Kong, to do battle with the likes of Atalante II (BEL), Plis-Play (ESP), Imagine (GER), Lurigna (SUI) and plenty of other competition from Italy and France.

There are 80 yachts entered that are under 40ft in length. Sub-40s have won the offshore race in the Giraglia Rolex Cup three times in the past ten years confirming this is a race where weather plays a key part. In the year Capozzi won conditions definitely favoured the smaller boats as Ala Bianca crewmember Adelaide Giromella explained. “It was good for us,” she said. “We found no wind near the Giraglia Rock. But after Giraglia we had good southerly wind, which took us to the finish in Genoa. The big boats found no wind at Giraglia and no wind in front of Genoa. They had to stop more times than we did.” When a small boat wins a race like this the innocent delight is palpable. Capozzi got the better of Russell Coutts back in 2006. In what other sport could you show up with yester-year’s equipment and hose the sport’s grand master. Advantageous conditions or not, you still have to sail your best.

2010 Giraglia Rolex Cup schedule

Friday, 11 June: Prologue race - 
 San Remo to Saint-Tropez.

Saturday, 12 June: Registration/Measurement

Sunday, 13 June: Inshore Race(s)

Monday, 14 June: Inshore Race(s)

Tuesday, 15 June: Inshore Race(s)
Close of Entries for Giraglia Rolex Cup distance race
Gala Dinner & Inshore Prize giving at La Citadelle

Wednesday, 16 June: Start of Giraglia Rolex Cup distance race
(245nm) Saint-Tropez - La Fourmigue - La Giraglia - San Remo.

Thursday, 17 to Saturday 19 June: Finishers arrive San Remo.

Saturday, 19 June: Prize giving at Yacht Club San Remo

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