Foot down to Italy
Often called the 'Fastnet of the Mediterranean' [although with consistently better weather - Ed], this year's Giraglia Race was the 51st held.
Yesterday afternoon 170 boats lined up for the start in St Tropez embarking on a course that would take the fleet from the Gulf of St Tropez, southwest along the French coast around the island of Levant, before turning east towards the 800m long
rock called la Giraglia off the northern coast Corsica before heading back north to the finish line off Genoa.
The race record, which had been held since 1998 by the Mediterranean Open 60 Riviera de Rimini, now stands at 22 hours 13 minutes and 48 seconds, Alfa Romeo having shaved 2 hours 7 minutes and 59 seconds, about 8% off the time.
Conditions were boisterous on the leg from France to Corsica where the fleet experienced winds of up to 27 knots from the southwest at times. For Alfa Romeo the wind lasted for a little over an hour past the rock before it dropped away to nothing for an hour, filling in weakly from the southeast slowly for the remainder of the leg to the finish.
"The long race and the record were our main objectives at the Giraglia Rolex Cup," commented Neville Crichton who last year won the Sydney-Hobart race on this maxi-boat. "We enjoyed the inshore races but the long race with the strong winds gave us the opportunity to really push the boat hard and enjoy the sailing."
"The highlight of the race for me was rounding the Giraglia Rock in the dark. We had 25 knots of wind and we were travelling at 23 knots. It is quite a significant corner of the course and we changed from a jib top to a spinnaker at that point. There was quite a lot on right then...
"It was tough work for the crew who did a fantastic job. We did probably 40 sail changes over the whole race. My crew is made up of mostly Kiwis and Aussies, all with recent America¹s Cup experience."
"We will now be concentrating preparing for the Rolex Fastnet Race in August and then the Rolex Maxi Cup in Porto Cervo in Septemeber. We will not be back here for two years, but we will be back for the Giraglia, only next time with a new boat.."