Saint-Tropez – Often yacht races are close and go to the wire. This week’s Rolex Giraglia inshore racing was not one of them. Organised by the Yacht Club Italiano in collaboration with Yacht Club Sanremo and Société Nautique de Saint-Tropez, this was the third event of six in the International Maxi Association’s 2022 Mediterranean Maxi Inshore Challenge.
Among the 13 maxis (within the 100+ full Rolex Giraglia inshore fleet) divided into two classes, there were stand-out performers: Sir Peter Ogden’s Judel-Vrolijk 77 posted a perfect scoreline from four races among the bigger maxis finishing the three days four points ahead of Peter Dubens’ Maxi 72 Northstar of London. In third Sir Lindsay Owen-Jones’ Wallycento Magic Carpet 3 was a further two back, winning her intense battle with fellow Wallycento, Charif Souki’s Tango.
Meanwhile in the smaller maxi class, Alessandro del Bono’s Capricorno, also scored four bullets. The 79ft Reichel-Pugh designed IMS maxi beat IMA President Benoît de Froidmont’s Wally 60 Wallyño by four points, in turns squeaking in one ahead of Adriano Calvini’s Felci 61 Itacentodue.
Both Jethou and Capricorno will be awarded with IMA trophies for the best placed owner-driver IMA member at Saturday’s Rolex Giraglia prizegiving at the Yacht Club Italiano in Genoa.
The inshore racing concluded today with a further windward-leeward, albeit shortened, on the Baie de Pampelonne. This was well received by the competitors, many of whom believed racing would be impossible today due to the lack of wind. America’s Cup legend Brad Butterworth, tactician on Jethou, praised the organisation: “The race committee did a great job. Today was looking like not being a good day to race, but they managed to fit one in.” The race committee included Ariane Mainemare and Alfredo Ricci from the International Maxi Association.
As is often the case off Saint-Tropez, conditions approaching mid-summer are light and this was generally the case over the last days, save for a near-perfect Sunday raced in 10-15 knots.
Over the four races, competition was always tight between Jethou and her former Maxi 72 rival Northstar of London. “It is always close. We are a bit faster than them, but we rate higher. The two of us were going well,” explained Butterworth. Meanwhile Sir Peter Ogden was expressly pleased with today’s race when, due to the light conditions, his all-black Jethou came home ahead of all of the 100 footers.
Among the 100 footers the all-black Wallycento Tango was competing in her first race in three years. According to her strategist, French 470 Olympic gold and bronze medallist, Thierry Peponnet. “We twice did four days of practice in La Ciotat, but no racing with others around, so it was good to have that opportunity to figure out our routines on board, starting, manoeuvres, etc. We have some new people also, so it was good. In light air we are pretty happy.” Compared with the immaculate Magic Carpet 3 (which did not race today), Peponnet reckons Tango perhaps has a small advantage in light conditions.
Despite the two giant Wallycentos and the extended former Wallycento, the 107ft long Spirit of Malouen X, biggest boat competing in the Rolex Giraglia inshores was the Dubois-designed New Zealand-built 111ft Silvertip, belonging to Swiss entrepreneur and philanthropist Bernard Sabrier. Sabrier is a Kiwi-phile and supports the Millennium Cup superyacht event that takes place in New Zealand. Thus Silvertip’s crew includes several NZ sailing legends such as Tom Dodson, more regularly tactician on the J-Class Velsheda, former America’s Cup and round the world race sailor Matt Mason and America’s Cup legend, designer and one time Team New Zealand syndicate head Tom Schnackenberg, who navigates. According to Schnackenberg typically Silvertip competes with this crew at the Millennium Cup but on this occasion Sabrier called them for Rolex Giraglia duty.
“It has been pretty good,” said Schnackenberg of the inshores. “Everything is well explained and the courses well set up. We slip on round and enjoy ourselves while trying to work out what sail to use in the light conditions!”
Despite being 27 years old, Capricorno is one of the best examples of how a well equipped, well optimised and well sailed yacht can be a winner under the IRC rating rule, regardless of age. Ignoring her aged design, the boat otherwise looks immaculate and her crew are among some of the most faithful, many having sailed with Alessandro’s father Rinaldo on board Capricorno when they won the Admiral’s Cup for Italy in 1995.
“We had some good sailing,” explained Capricorno’s tactician Flavio Favini of the Rolex Giraglia inshores. “I think we have been sailing okay although we are still learning it a little bit.” The light conditions weren’t what del Bono and the Capricorno crew had hoped for this week. “Last year we were fine in the light but now the boat should be better in medium conditions. We have been working on the stability – improving the bulb and sailing with more crew.”
Tomorrow (Wednesday) at 11:55 will be the warning signal for the traditional Rolex Giraglia offshore that this year returns to its original course from Saint-Tropez around the Giraglia rock off northeast Corsica and to the finish off Genoa. However with ultra-light conditions forecast the usual opening leg west down the coast to the La Fourmigue turning mark has been scrapped and the fleet will set sail directly for the Giraglia rock.