Giraglia Rolex Cup Draws A Full House

June 13, 2009

Marks on the dock Side.

For this the 57th year, the Giraglia Rolex Cup has roughly marked the start of the summer sailing season in the Mediterranean. Just as the Côte d'Azur heats up with locals and tourists enjoying the first of the good weather and heading to the coast, so too the top race boats find their way to St. Tropez to compete.

And, as if in some way to defy the current economic situation, a near record number of entries - close to 200 - have registered for the regatta that begins tomorrow, Sunday June 14. André Beaufils, Président of the Société Nautique de Saint-Tropez, an organizer, along with the Yacht Club Italiano and the Yacht Club de France, attributes the strong turnout to increased advance promotion along with a reasonable entry fee. It seems to have worked as the entries been continued to stream in all week.

The regatta will feature three days of inshore, around the buoys racing for all yachts over 30 feet in IRC, IRC/ORC, and Classic divisions. Then on Wednesday, June 17 the Giraglia Race, the 243-mile classic distance race tests the fleet offshore from St. Tropez to Genoa, via the craggy Giraglia rock at the tip of Corsica.

A competitive fleet has arrived in the old port of St Tropez under brilliant blue skies, with the iconic clock tower beckoning all sailors. The sailors in St. Tropez are made up of both amateurs and professionals on board a range of designs from Swan (including the Maxis as well as the Swan 45 and 42 one-designs), Grand Soleil, First, IMX 40, J-Boats (J/133, J/122, J/109) and other keen racer/cruisers on up to the latest mini-Maxis, some just launched.

On this picture postcard of a practice day, with a light onshore breeze of 8-10 knots across the Bay of St. Tropez, it would be easy to be lulled into thinking this was a perfect day for taking in the sights, but for the likes of Luna Rossa, Ran, Jethou, and Bella Mente this was an opportunity to see what everyone was made of; the group briefly sailed upwind together, each trying to gauge their performance in advance of the week's racing.

While the bulk of the fleet is amateur and the event is largely Corinthian, not surprisingly for an event ofStart of GIraglia distance race at St. Tropez. such stature some professionals are found among the mix. Grant Simmer, the Australian America's Cup sailor and tactician, will call the shots on the new 21 meter (72 ft) Judel-Vrolijk, Ran for owner Niklas Zennstrom. While Zennstrom is known for his prowess with such tech companies as Skype and Kazaa, he is also making a name for himself and his boat on the race course with good showings in the earlier Med spring regattas.

Onboard French Spirit One, the 27m (90 ft) super-maxi, Marc Pajot is here to enjoy the competition; the boat was chartered to celebrate a friend's birthday - but competitors are wise not to dismiss their intent to sail fast.

The Swan 42 Kora 4, with owner/skipper Paolo Scerni, will be back to defend following their combined overall win (inshore + distance) in the IRC division in 2008.

While the bulk of the entries are from France and Italy, there is good representation from the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, Russian and Portugal.

Further information on the Giraglia Rolex Cup can be found at the Yacht Club Italiano's website at Competitors are encouraged to check the Giraglia Rolex Cup web pages since all administrative documents and race notices will be posted there.

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