Giraglia Rolex Cup sets off

Esimit Europa 2 leads the charge out into the Mediterranean

Wednesday June 22nd 2011, Author: Giles Pearman, Location: France

The 59th Giraglia Rolex Cup is underway with the 190 participating yachts from 20 different countries beginning the 243 nautical mile race from St Tropez to Genoa. The three competing classes started in staggered times: 12:00 CEST for Group B, 12:30 CEST Group A and approx 12:45 CEST for Group 0. Conditions were again light, with an easterly 4-5 knots of breeze.

As the crews prepared to depart this morning, the overall feeling was excitement about the adventure ahead coupled with slight disappointment regarding the tame conditions predicted for the course. Igor Simcic, owner of the 100ft line honours favourite Esimit Europa 2 (SLO), last year’s first boat to arrive, felt that the meteorological conditions will most likely scupper one of the key ambitions of the crew.

“Our boat is good in light winds and we will do our best. It will be a long race, anywhere between 22-30 hours,” explained Simcic, “we have made the boat lighter this morning and we will manage the breeze in the best way possible. However, it will be impossible to break the course record which for us is a pity.”

Like Esimit Europa, the crew of Brian Benjamin’s Aegir 2 (GBR) had to make some late changes due to the forecast, as tactician Andy Beadsworth explained: “We’re looking forward to the race although we’ve had to make some sacrifices with less crew. It’s not nice to leave people on the dock at the last moment, but we’re going light with less sails and spares whilst fewer people means less food and water onboard.”

Another former line honours winner Alegre (GBR), were fully prepared for the start. Owner/skipper Andres Soriano was looking forward to competing, fresh from having won line honours and the overall prize at the recent Rolex Volcano Race. “It is an addictive race. Like most of these offshores you sometimes wonder what you are doing here, but coming back is a sign of a good race. The conditions can be trying whether windy or light. The start can be a real Le Mans type rush.”

While the aforementioned yachts as well as the likes of Sir Peter Ogden’s 60ft Mini Maxi Jethou (GBR), Danilo Salsi’s Swan 90 DSK Pioneer Investments (ITA) and Ernesto Gismondi’s Wally 65 Edimetra (ITA) will be looking to set the pace, spare a thought for Pietro ‘Ciccio’ Supparo’s Halberg-Rassy 41 Gianin 6 (ITA), skipper of the self-proclaimed ‘slowest boat in the fleet’.

It is not breaking records or arriving in Genoa early on Thursday morning that motivates Supparo. The crew’s sole aim is to arrive in the city of Christopher Columbus before the time limit of 13:00 CEST on Saturday, 25 June. “We are a Corinthian crew, seven close-knit friends, who compete with that spirit of the 1970s,” explains Supparo. “We use the boat almost every weekend and it is far more used to cruising than regattas. The yacht is incredibly heavy and when there is little wind we suffer. The boat simply isn’t born for racing and we take everything on board to cover our every needs. We don’t change anything for racing. If we want to roast lamb in the oven we can, if we need enough gas to cook a minestrone for 24 hours then we can do that too.”

Supparo calls Gianin 6 his ‘floating girlfriend’ and is competing in the race for the second time having taken part six years ago. There were good winds last time around and the boat came in 55th place overall. The weak breeze of 2011 is likely to make it a much longer haul.


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