Giraglia Rolex Cup
St.Tropez, France / San Remo, Italy


Sitting on the harbor breakwater in Saint-Tropez staring wistfully out into the bay it’s hard to believe that tomorrow the water will be filled with sails. There are signs, admittedly, that something is afoot. Behind the vantage point, ‘le Vieux Port’ is full of sailing yachts. Quayside strollers are more accustomed to gazing at motor yachts. And, at the end of the mole, there is a buzzing tented village full of purposeful people busy doing something. Out on the bay the activity appears leisurely in keeping with a Saturday afternoon early in the season. Tomorrow, though, the scene will be wholly different. The port and tented village will be empty, as around 190 race yachts and crews take to the sea for the inshore series of the 2010 Giraglia Rolex Cup.

Three days of inshore racing are planned as a lead up to the main event, the 241 nautical mile distance course that this year will take the fleet from Saint-Tropez to San Remo, via the fabled Giraglia rock. The day-trippers and holidaymakers of this part of the Côte d’Azur will have plenty to watch from the beaches and waterside restaurants over the next four days.

A distraction from the weather may be welcome. Tomorrow the forecast is for a light southerly breeze that may build to 12 knots in the early afternoon. This will please the sailors. More worrying for those on shore is the threat of cloud cover and even the possibility of a little rain. Conditions for Monday are more settled with a second day of light southerlies. On Tuesday, however, the expectation is for stronger winds from the east bringing more clouds and real rain.

For those more concerned with the distance race, studying the longer-range forecast does not make great reading. With high pressure anticipated to cover the course, competitors may be blessed with winds that struggle to breach the 10-knot barrier. But this is the Mediterranean and, by all accounts, the situation has been changing day-to-day, so no one will take this as read.

A total of 247 yachts have registered for this year’s Giraglia Rolex Cup a record for the event as a whole. The highest number to have participated in the distance race is 197, set in 2006. This looks set to be bettered with a current tally of 198 entrants and the entry period not set to close until Tuesday afternoon. Currently, competing yachts range in size from the 9.14m/30-foot Hocus Pocus (ITA), Massimo Maffezzini’s Adventure 30, to the 34.34m, Swan 112, Highland Breeze.

There look to be number of interesting battles shaping up throughout the fleet. A competitive Mini Maxi class has assembled, including Alfa Romeo III (NZL), Container (GER), Alegre (GBR), Aegir (GBR) and Jethou (GBR). Added to this, there are bulk orders of Archambault 40s, First 40.7s, Swan 42s, Swan 45s, Comet 45s and First 45s, which will have the added spice of more localised rivalries supplementing their ambitions for the overall prize.

With many off the distance race fleet participating in the inshore series, by tomorrow evening we shall begin to have an idea who is in tune and who is not.

The 241 nautical mile offshore component of the 58th Giraglia Rolex Cup starts on Wednesday, 16 June from Saint-Tropez. Prior to this there are three days of inshore racing on the Bay of Saint-Tropez.

The prize giving for the inshore series will be held at La Citadelle, Saint-Tropez, on the evening of 16 June. The prize giving for the offshore race will be held on the evening of Saturday, 19 June at the Yacht Club San Remo.