The second element of the 2016 Giraglia Rolex Cup drew to a close today, with the completion of the three-day inshore series. All that remains is the main event, ‘La Giraglia’, the 241 nautical mile offshore component of this inspirational contest. Those racing in the inshore races have been blessed with warm, dry weather and a mix of largely good wind conditions.
By contrast the early part of the offshore race looks a little less enticing as the brisk winds of the past few days are predicted to abate before tomorrow’s start, offering a slow passage to the Giraglia. Once at the northern tip of Corsica, the fleet expects to meet stronger winds and a potentially difficult final leg to Genoa.
The inshore races have provided not just exciting racing, but also a great spectacle with the yachts finishing each race just off the breakwater of the port of Saint-Tropez. The northern shore of the bay providing a perfect backdrop as the fleet nears the line. Aside from a delay to racing yesterday when a strong westerly was blowing the tops off the waves in the bay during the morning, the Yacht Club Italiano and its partner club, the Société Nautique de Saint-Tropez, have benefitted from cooperative conditions. The fleet have enjoyed different courses each day, with the larger yachts competing over 31, 19 and 30 nautical miles; the smaller classes covering two races of 19nm and one of 21nm.
Today’s races took the bigger yachts north-east to a mark just south of the Ile des Vieilles; the two smaller yacht classes heading into the Golfe de Fréjus, to a mark off Saint-Raphael. In the IRC fleet, after the three races, Benoit de Froidmont’s Wallyno prevailed overall in Class 0, and in doing so secured the Ville de Saint-Tropez Trophy.
COMPELLING FLEET; DIFFICULT FORECAST
Some 269 yachts are expected to cross the start line tomorrow, ranging from the 30.5m Magic Carpet Cubed, last year’s overall winner, the most powerful boat in this year’s fleet and favourite for line honours, down through the other Maxis and Mini maxis, such as High Spirit and L4/Trifork winner of the Sanremo to Saint-Tropez race; the fifty-footers like Team Vision Future and Arobas 2 (winner in the Marseille to Saint-Tropez race); forty-footers including Chestress 3; and not forgetting the thirty foot yachts, such as Alexia Barrier’s Torial.Fr-4 Ever.
For Nacho Postigo, the Spanish navigator on the largely Russian-crewed 19.98m Maxi High Spirit, the forecast conditions are not ideal: “This is my fourth race and while I always enjoy the challenge, this year does not look to be too flashy in terms of wind! That said, it is always special starting a race from Saint-Tropez and of course rounding the Giraglia is something very particular, especially if it’s early in the morning.”
SPIRIT MORE THAN SIZE
While the faster yachts might be expecting to finish the offshore race in between 26 and 32 hours, posing little threat to the existing course record of 14 hours, 56 minutes and 16 seconds set in 2012, the smallest in the fleet will be hoping to arrive no later than Friday to re-join the shoreside festivities that move to the Yacht Club Italiano after the start. Alexia Barrier, sailing single-handed, is projecting an arrival early in the morning on Friday: “I’m happy with the weather forecast. It is better for me that it starts calm and builds after the Giraglia, but I’m expecting a difficult leg to Genoa.”