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Thursday, June 11, 2015

Steeped in Tradition - Giraglia Rolex Cup

An impressive fleet in excess of 270 yachts from around 20 different countries have registered to take part in a keenly anticipated 63rd edition of the Giraglia Rolex Cup, which commences on Friday.
Action commences on Friday with a large proportion of the fleet taking part in the opening act of the weeklong festival, the short, overnight race from Sanremo to Saint-Tropez. Three days of inshore racing are then hosted in Saint-Tropez (Sunday 14 – Tuesday 16 June), a chance for crews to hone their skills in a competitive environment ahead of the main event, the Mediterranean’s oldest offshore race, running 243-nm to Genoa following the rounding of the Giraglia rock. The event, long on tradition and high on enthusiasm, opens Rolex’s European yachting season.
Bella Mente Photo: Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi
Esimit Europa 2 holds the current race record at the Giraglia Rolex Cup having set a blistering time of 14 hours, 56 minutes in 2012. Igor Simčič’s pan-European crew on the 100-ft Maxi has taken line honours in her last four race appearances and will start as the overwhelming favourite to arrive first in Genoa.
Photo: Rolex / Kurt Arrigo
The fleet’s other 100-ft yacht is Sir Lindsay Owen-Jones’s Wally Cento Magic Carpet Cubed (GBR), another crew with a fine race pedigree having taken line honours in 2013. An array of all out racing Maxi 72s including Sir Peter Ogden’s Jethou (GBR), George Sakellaris’s Shockwave (USA), Roberto Tomasini Grinover’s Robertissima III (ITA), Alex Schaerer’s Caol Ila R (USA) and Dieter Schoen’s brand new MOMO (IVB) will undoubtedly have their say at the front of the fleet.
Jethou Photo: Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi
Also hoping to dent the race record is Lionel Péan’s Volvo Open 70 SFS. “We are very much looking forward to confronting a very high level of competition, including a large number of Maxis,” explains Péan. “We are pushing the performance cursor even higher than last year and we are keen on showing an improvement while hoping to have a little Mistral during the return part of the course in order to mount a challenge for the race record.”
Finis Pit's Ker 53 DRALION (MLT) at the Giraglia Rock Photo: Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi
The last four editions of the race have been won by either French or Swiss crews. Former champions in the 2015 entry list include both Laurent Camprubi’s Alizée (2013) and Dominique Heyraud’s Foxy Lady (2011). The sizeable contingent of Italian crews are chasing the nation’s first success in seven years, following Marco Paolucci’s triumph at the helm of Tartaruga in 2008.

In offshore race terms, the Giraglia is relatively short but intense. Recent editions have seen fast, punishing conditions as well as more benign weather requiring patience and guile. Both scenarios test the skills and preparation of the competing crews notably for those sailing solo or as a two man crew.

While their focus first and foremost will be finishing the race, the 25 or so single and double-handed crews set to take part will take inspiration from the two man crew on Night and Day, who won outright the 2013 Rolex Fastnet. A clear example of why offshore racing has timeless appeal.

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