Three to fight for the 68th Rolex Giraglia line

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Three to fight for the 68th Rolex Giraglia line

by James Boyd / International Maxi Association Jun 15 08:36 PM UTC
June 16, 2021

Wally 60 Wallyño by Benoît de Froidmont © IMA / Studio Borlenghi

First race off the coast of Italy, the Rolex Giraglia sets sail tomorrow (Wednesday June 16), the fourth round of the Mediterranean Maxi Offshore Challenge 2020-21 of the International Maxi Association.

Due to the pandemic, the organizer of the event, the Yacht Club Italiano, was for the first time forced to keep the start and finish in Italy. As a result, the start will be from Sanremo, with the course heading towards a mark at Cala del Forte off Ventimiglia, then into French waters to a turn mark off Rade d’Agay (east de Fréjus / Saint-Raphaël). From there, the normal route resumes in the direction of the rock of the Giraglia in the north of Corsica and until the arrival off Genoa.

This is not the first time that Sanremo has hosted the Giraglia Race before. Over the years, it has been both a port of departure and a port of arrival. Despite the change of course, its length will remain at 241 miles, the same as the originally planned course from Saint-Tropez to Genoa.

This year, of the 143 entered in the Rolex Giraglia, 17 are maxi yachts of 60+ feet, racing in the IRC 0 fleet.

“It’s impressive,” said Benoît de Froidmont, president of the International Maxi Association, the official body entrusted by World Sailing with managing maxi yacht races. “The owners are pushing their crews to sail – I’m happy to see that and that we have six IMA members here. It’s a fantastic thrill to be back after nearly two seasons which have been almost completely canceled.”

As for the Rolex Giraglia, de Froidmont added: “It is one of the most attractive races in the Mediterranean. It was sad not to have the coastal race in Saint-Tropez, but rather there is a mark offshore just beyond Cannes. It can get a fairly light breeze this time of year so the start can be a bit tricky, but the forecast has improved. ”

As usual, de Froidmont will campaign with his Wally 60 Wallyño, aboard which he became the first winner of the IMA Mediterranean Maxi Inshore Challenge (MMIC) in 2019. The Wallyño has just been refurbished with a new deck , an improved hydraulic system and new sails.

However, de Froidmont will again face stiff competition from Jean-Pierre Barjon’s Swan 601 Lorina, which she narrowly beat in the MMIC title two years ago. Then there is the constantly improving Reichel-Pugh 60 Wild Joe from Hungarian owner Márton Józsa as well as Mills Vismara 72s Leaps & Bounds from Jean-Philippe Blanpain and Yoru from Luigi Sala.

On the opposite end of the maxi-yacht spectrum, there will be a three-way fight between the 100-footers. One campaign that has been the most successful in the Rolex Giraglia of all time is Magic Carpet by Sir Lindsay Owen-Jones, two-time honors winner and one overall winner (in 2015). His Magic Carpet Cubed is entered again this year, the first regatta of the Blue Wallycento in 20 months, although it has been used for cruises and day trips.

According to the captain of the Magic Carpet Cubed Danny Gallichan, so far they have avoided the events, but “the Yacht Club Italiano did a good job of organizing this one. They have the government behind them, so there was a lot paperwork and there was a lot of testing for the crew. ” The Magic Carpet Cubed crew army includes many legends, from multiple Olympic medalist Jochen Schümann to sailor Marcel van Triest to former Volvo Ocean Race skipper Neal McDonald and designer Jim Pugh. Despite international travel restrictions, almost all of their regular crew are present.

As for this year’s course, Gallichan predicts: “Tomorrow, it looks like it will be light downwind from the Rade d’Agay, then close to the Rocher with not too much wind, then around the Rocher and move away into the hole. usual off Genoa. . “He thinks it will take them a little over 24 hours to complete the course, but given the predictions it could be faster or slower.

The big favorite of the Arca SGR Grand Prix based in Trieste and organized by Furio Benussi and his Fast and Furio Sailing Team, as well as the Farr 100 Leopard, now promoted by Dutch internet entrepreneur Joost Schuijff, will face off against Magic Carpet Cubed.

Leopard has done well to squeeze in as many regattas as possible during the pandemic, including Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez last fall and the recent Loro Piana Superyacht regatta in Porto Cervo. Her crew includes many of the original crew who raced on board under original owner Mike Slade, including skipper Chris Sherlock. Leopard has only competed in the Rolex Giraglia once, when it was chartered by American Jim Swartz in 2018.

“I think it’s an interesting course,” said Leopard tactician, two-time Australian Olympic medalist Mitch Booth of this year’s race. “It will be a challenge and of course it’s different, but the length is the same so I think it will be similar.” This afternoon, his navigator Hugh Agnew predicted a race time of 28 hours. “There are a few potholes in the road,” Booth agreed.

One of the surprise stories is that of new IMA member Carlo Alberini leading a full maxi campaign aboard the Davidson 69 Pendragon VI. Over the past 20 years, Alberini has been a major competitor in one-design keelboat fleets such as the Mumm 30, Farr 40 (Calvi Network), Melges 32 and more recently the J / 70. “I decided two years ago that my time of racing a design was over because I’ve been doing it for over 20 years. I decided to remove the ‘J’ in front of ’70’ and buy a 70 instead! ”

The most surprising thing, given its prolific course in navigation, is that this Rolex Giraglia will be Alberini’s first. “For many years there was always another competition at the same time,” he admits. “I’ve done offshore races like the Rolex Middle Sea Race, but not this one.”

As for his outlook, he says it depends on the weather and it seems to be changing. “Yesterday there was a forecast of strong wind. This boat is not good for upwind – it is better downwind. Today the forecast has changed, but it is the Mediterranean! There will be times where it will be totally quiet, so I have no idea how long it will take. ” Maybe a mantra for this year’s race.

The maxi will be first class tomorrow departing from Sanremo at 1200 CEST.

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